Thursday, August 21, 2014

I didn't know him all that well but he was familiar.
Like the large, old oak tree that once grew in our front yard.
He was deeply present as if rooted in the ground.  Entwined in the branches that stretched out above our small block.
He lived there since the house was built in the 80s.
He'd tell you that.
His skin was a milky white.  The kind that probably never took to the sun very well.  His hair was a silky heather grey which he wore slick back.  His clothes, even the casual ones, were always freshly pressed.  His loafers always impeccably clean. 

Photo by DardaniM
Every morning, I'd spy him outside my window as I made my tea.  Stretching in the middle of the cul de sac and doing push-ups against the curb.  No matter the weather he wore a sweat band and tennis shorts, no doubt showing off his impressive skills for the other retired ladies living on our block.  When I left to go to work, I'd wave to him as he began his run.  He'd smile, wave back and begin his scurry.  His arms moving faster than his legs as he made his journey through the quiet of the morning.
He knew everyone's comings and goings, including ours.  Every afternoon, he'd perch at the top of his stairs and watch.  Knees bent, arms crossed.  His playful blue eyes bouncing from this to that.  The rabbits chomping on the grass in our yards.  The kids riding their bikes.  And the birds flying their quiet journey through the air.  He could have sat on his deck in the back of the house but I think he preferred being a witness.  Being a fixture in the life around him. Greeting the school children as they arrived home.  Slowing the inevitable rush that marks middle age by waiting for a wave or a comment on the weather. 
"Hi, Mr. Jim," My boys would say as they road their bikes and scooters fast by his house.  He'd smile and watch graciously as they showed off a new move or answer intently as they badgered him with questions.
"Do you have a wife?"
"No. Don't want one."
"Do you have a scooter?"
"Are you a Grandpa?"
He was amused by my overprotectiveness. Watching me as I rushed to nurse a sudden boo-boo, or break-up an inevitable dispute between the neighborhood kids about who won at tag or who lost a race. Teasing me about letting the boys "be boys" or siding with my three year old when I told him he was too little to play in the street.
"I'm just messing with ya'," he said waving his hand towards me when I tried to explain.
He was the kind of guy that scolded my mother for looking under the hood of her car when she thought something was wrong.  Me for contemplating fixing the weathered paneling on the side of my house. 
"That's his job," he would say, referencing my husband and gesturing towards my house whether my husband was home or not.  I chuckled because he reminded me of a my grandfather.  He's brand of throw back was a kind I didn't care to disturb.
He had a beautiful 1969 Corvette in his garage. 
"His baby." 
He'd back it out only on the most beautiful days and go for a ride.  He'd pull out of our cul de sac with a small smile on his face.  I imagined him slow riding on I-95, picking up septuagenarian babes and remembering the good old days.

Tuesday evening, we learned he was gone. 
In his bed, I heard.  Suddenly and alone. 
I stood outside with a few of my neighbors looking toward his house.  I  pictured him sitting there watching us.  Amused as we shared tears and stories.  Suddenly filled with gratitude for the bit part we play in each other's lives. 
We've had the most beautiful sunsets since. Filling our quiet streets in strawberry orange.  Making everything in the backdrop glow.  Somehow making his empty stoop look warm and full.
I'd like to think it was his way of remaining present.  Reminding us to be present, too. 
In life.  In all its glorious finite.  For all its quivers and falls. 
I'm glad I was a stop on his journey. 
I'm glad he was a stop on mine.

Love and Light,

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The walls in my bedroom are ivory.  A rather plain ivory but it ricochets sunlight from our window and captures shadows from the large oak trees behind our house.  In the morning, while my husband is still sleeping, I like to pull our fabric blinds all the way open, lie back down and be consumed by the light.  I watch the soft motion of the wind as it travels through the leaves to the rhythm of the chirping birds. The shadows two-step in the sunlight and sketch patterns on my body. 

My youngest son holding his scooter and looking out on a lake.
My hair, when loose, feels like spun cotton against my pillow.  I turn so it captures my face.  It's soft and it smells like coconut.  I like how it feels against my face.  It isn't long before I hear little bare feet smacking against the hardwood in the hallway.  Two sets. Opposite directions.  They swing open the door and jump into bed, my sons, snuggling against my husband and I, kicking blankets and talking about their dreams.  My little guy wants ice cream today.  My eldest wants to run through the sprinkler.  My husband opens one sleepy eye and asks if they're ready for breakfast.  They are.  They sprint from the bed making trips to the bathroom before bounding down the stairs to fill their bellies. 
For a brief moment, I lie still.  Captured in the shadows. Content.  Nothing more than me. 

Love and Light,
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