My son came over the other day. He works two jobs, so visits are few, but intensely joyous. He stayed long enough to ride his three-wheeler and complete the list of repairs I always have for him. One of these was the vacuum cleaner, which was making a strange sound. Son, who never lets a machine win, investigated the problem. He realized the hose was clogged and rigged a hook from a metal coat hanger to go to work. I assisted him, shoving a broom handle through the other end to dislodge whatever was in there. His girlfriend looked on in amusement as he remarked, “This is an interesting way to spend Saturday with family, fixing home appliances. We removed clumps of dust, hair and animal fur. This went on for a half hour with various adjustments of the hook until the real culprit was removed. A black sock. As my son held it in his fingers and we all erupted in hysterical laughter, I immediately recognized the handiwork of my daughter’s domestic skills.
Problem solved, we relaxed in the living room. My son glanced at my upright piano and reminded me it was promised to him. One hundred years old now, it belonged to my Father who played it as a boy, and I had it restored to its original state. It doesn’t get played much these days, so I was thrilled when my son, with his grubby jeans and mechanic’s hands, set down his beer to tickle the ivories. I joined him. Together we played a combination of the classics I had learned as a little girl and the modern day songs he had taught himself on his electronic synthesizers and keyboards. That moment of generations connected by music filled me with joy, especially when I felt the presence of Dad. He passed away when I was a teenager, leaving the piano to deteriorate in the basement until I resurrected it. He would’ve turned 93 this year and although Dad never knew his grandson, I know he was in the living room with us that day celebrating the resurrected piano and us and smiling.
Speaking of turning 93, I had the pleasure of visiting an old friend at a rehab center to deliver a card for his 93rd birthday. After he read it I told him I didn’t know what to get a man who has everything. He responded, “Today, I am receiving your smile,” and he reached out for my hand. There was a framed passage next to his bed from an award he had received. I read it aloud and watched his smile grow and the tears well up in his eyes. One statement struck me. During his tenure as a science teacher, he had touched nearly 35,000 students. Appreciating his humorous spirit, I knew the delight he passed on to them. After I read, he said, “I remember a guy…” before his voice trailed off. He couldn’t verbalize the rest of his sentence, but I could see his faraway eyes light up with happy memories. When I mentioned that, he told me his head is filled with so many thoughts that he can’t articulate. “The science teacher that can no longer think,” he finally said. He turned his head to look out his window and the subject turned to the spring nature happening there. He grew tired, so we parted our usual way. I told him I would see him soon, and he said, “Promise?” And I responded, “Promise!” and reached down to give him a kiss.
As I stepped out of the warm building, my hood blew off and my head was immediately soaked by the cold teaming rain. My hair slapped in my face and became a tangled mess. It was a distance to my parking spot, but I decided against readjusting my coat. I let the wind whip its frigid grasp over me, cherishing every wet drop as I glanced up at the clouds and inhaled deeply. Walking to my car, I embraced the weather, understanding that he no longer has the freedom to go outside at will or mobility to walk to a car. Suddenly, I didn’t feel cold anymore, just the intense warmth of his hand.
FROM THE SANCTUARY Temperatures are edging up slowly. Sixty degrees had me sitting outside in the lanai the other day. Robins are back and the geese are pairing up. The familiar trills of red-winged blackbirds have returned, and sprouts are breaking out of the soil in my gardens, Yay! Grey snowy days are giving way to bluer skies, indicating that spring will match the calendar this year. I am grateful, bring it on! Tonight’s sunset reveals a yellow ball sinking in slow motion sending sparkles through the trees and streaks of orange to the clouds above it. I am happy!
Just for fun…Note to all of those paranoid construction vehicle drivers who end up in front of me, I will continue to follow you, no matter what your sign says, as long as you are on the route to where I happen to be headed.
Keep the joy flowing, Everyone!