Monday, July 16, 2012

Greater than old

He was handsome. With horn-rimmed glasses, bright eyes, shiny black hair and a smile to melt your heart.  And he stood there looking fervent but free, leaning against his brand new Studebaker in a button-up polo shirt and black trousers, grinning up at me from a yellowed scrapbook page resting on the kitchen table. I turned my head toward the man showing me the photo. He was frail now; his black hair thinned and grayed; his glasses a little more practical.  But then he smiled and the young man was both in the picture and by my side.  His eyes glistened and it was almost like the shiny Studebaker was right there in the living room begging to be driven.

He was not an old man, I realized as I looked at more yellowed scrapbook pages.  He was an added-upon being. He was a small toothless boy sitting with his mother in a living room in Holland. He was the father proudly wrapping his arms around three giggling little girls. He was the grinning groom holding hands with a beautiful curly-haired bride. He was the soldier in uniform at a camp in Vietnam.  He was the cheerful man with the accordion, playing the tune of a place and time long gone, but not forgotten. He was the smiling person by the sea, in the desert, in a castle, in a garden, in a small apartment. He was the grandfather in a fishing hat, chatting with a grandson at the lake.  And he was here on this page before me, the proud owner of a brand-new car, ready to take on the world.  

And all of these people – the boy, the soldier, the father, the grandfather, the handsome man in a polo  – they look out at me when I look into his eyes.  They sing to me when he whispers an old melody.  They beg to not be forgotten, even when the body they live in has grown frail and the laughter that comes out of it isn’t as loud as it used to be.  They plead with me to remember all the people inside this one man, so that when I look at him, I will not see an old man, but a great man; a collection of so many experiences that looking at his stature does not do him justice.  To see the boy soldier father grandfather handsome man, you have to look at his soul. Look in his eyes.  And then when you hug him, you know you’re embracing decades of memories and experiences and darkness and light and pain and beauty and love. 

 And you feel so very glad you came.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Retirement community adventures

The paved walkway weaved through and around the retirement community. I strolled idly along it in my husband’s oversized hoodie, feeling lighter with each breath of fresh sea air that washed through me.  The breeze and the sun played a bantering game with my senses, both cooling me and kissing my exposed skin with warmth and light.

Retirees sat in their well-kept houses and watched me warily as I strolled past their back doors.  I admired their perfect lawns and blossoming flowers, but resisted the urge to scoop them up and smell them.  Retiree lawn flowers are not for touching.

After some time the pavement ended and the groomed landscape stopped. I bent beneath some low-hanging branches and stepped onto a muddy, primitive pathway, perhaps once blazed by deer or an early modern explorer, or both.  I imagined the spirit of the deer and the noble trail blazer walking with me, encouraging me to pick all the wild viney flowers I saw and hold them to my nose.  So I did.  Fallen logs, red with rain, replaced well-kept lawns. The music of bumblebees drowned out distant stereos.  

The world of the retirement community was far behind me, or was it far ahead, in the unimaginable 21st century?  And me and my deer ghost and ancient explorer discovered a clearing at the end of our trail where the sun illuminated patches of long grass and scattered raspberry bushes.  I took some berries for myself and left some for the bumblebees, then left my forest glen and explorer friend and deer ghost and stepped back on to the pavement.

The retirees with their coffee and TVs eyed me skeptically again as I walked back past each of their homes, and I smiled at them through their screen doors and popped raspberries in my mouth.  I was giddy with adventure. And I vowed to never grow so used to any place that I don’t see the magic in my own backyard.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Dear friends and loved ones,

Before you come any closer, know now that I am a biohazardous agent of the mononucleosis virus!! 

Not that I would have ever known it.  I feel fine. But the husband, well, he’s fallen prey to my pathogens, and the doc says it’s probably because I was walking around all diseased and stuff without ever even knowing it.  Meaning while planting kisses I was actually planting vicious painful destructive bugs straight into my husband’s innards. Scary thought, no?

Inadvertently causing suffering is something I’m sort of good at. And it’s the best way to make me feel the worst kind of guilty.  Like when I snuggle up to Kendon when I haven’t had socks on for two minutes and instantly he turns into a frozen icicle and can’t form coherent words for… well, at least a few seconds. GUILT. Or like that time my companion at the missionary training center was so miserably constipated from cafeteria food and I happily gave her my anti-constipation pills for a good week before looking down and reading the label “anti-diarrhea.” DOUBLE GUILT.  Or the time I found a sick gecko in my air conditioned office and hurried him outside where he could get some nice, warm healing sun and… shudder… how did I get on this subject?

The point is, I kissed my husband as an expression of love. And it turned out to be a kiss of death.  Death being a metaphor for a swollen throat and sleepy demeanor.  I’m feeling guilty.

But admittedly – and this is just between us – I’m loving the extra snuggle time. 

My little sickie bug (pictured left.)
P.S. We are dogsitting the cutest little punkin on the planet. More soon!