August 16, 2016

Perseid Meteor 8-11-16Photo by Ralph Johnson, Shenandoah National Park, 8/11/16.

 

We sat on the back porch in weathered-gray Adirondack chairs which tilted back

but not quite enough.

With cricked necks we stared up at the sky.

Experimenting with focused gaze and then with soft eyes,

We took in Cassiopeia’s night sky.

In late, still darkness,

The sounds of summer’s sultriness drummed in our ears–

Cicadas, frogs, crickets, locusts–the chorus that calls for fall.

We held hands and waited for the promised Perseid meteors

As children might watch for lightning bugs.

“There’s one!”

“Did you see that?”

Spears of light etched through the stars urged us to stay for just one more.

“There’s one!”

Just one more. . .

Flash of wonder.

 

 

 

August 9, 2016

Sunday morning. I had planned to get up early and finish off the chores that missed attention the day before, but I just had a bit of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss left to read. It had been a while since a book so moved me and catapulted me into walking in another’s shoes. I felt the immaculate beauty of her language. The joys and sorrows showing the kind and cruel ways human lives intersect or fail to connect. When I finished, I wanted to start it over again, not sure that I got it all the first time. I wanted to drink it to the last drop.

In The History of Love, Leo Gursky wonders if his life has mattered, if the love he has carried in his heart for a woman he fell in love with when he was 10 would make a difference to anyone. All the could-have-beens, if-onlys, and what-ifs, fill his thoughts at the end of his life. This is a story of reflection on outcomes of important decisions. Leo often expresses a thought followed by “And yet.”  Poignant pauses to reconsider what might yet be ahead.

My arm was parallel to my husband’s; shoulder-to-shoulder, he slept while I read. I heard him breathe in and out. I turned the pages quietly, trying not to wake him. I wondered if he could feel my heart swell as I read Leo Gursky’s story. Would he know that I was changed by this book? Distracted for a moment, lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof ran through my mind:

“Do you love me?”

“Do I what?

“Do you love me?” …

“Twenty-five years, my bed is his. If that’s not love, what is?”

For me, it’s forty-one years. That’s 2,132 Sunday mornings. The history of love. Sometimes unbearably beautiful and sometimes unbearably sad. And yet.

Sunday morning. There was a time when that meant finding Sunday shoes, ironed dresses, hair ribbons, and shirts and ties that matched. Taking the roast out of the fridge, peeling potatoes and carrots for the requisite Sunday dinner, perhaps regretting that a cake or pie didn’t get made for dessert.

“Mom, these shoes are too small.”

“You can’t tell me that on Sunday morning. I can’t do anything about it now. Tell me Saturday, please.” But inside I knew I should have been the one to think of shoes on Saturday.

“Do I have all my music? Okay, let’s go.” Seven of us in the car on the way to church, racing the clock to be only 5 minutes late.

Sunday morning. My dad’s face was shiny clean from his early shower, smooth shave, and the pungent scent of Mennen’s aftershave.  His shirt was crisp, his tie chosen carefully to go with his suit. Mr. Glazier’s Dry Cleaners carefully folded and made his shirts like new each week.  My father’s shirts were never on hangers—they were stacked neatly in his dresser drawer. Each Sunday he would select the best (newest) shirt from the stack and unwrap it. I could never understand why my father chose Mr. Glazier as his dry cleaner since his shop reeked of an omnipresent cigar in his hand or mouth. We always said we were going to Mr. Glazier’s, not to “pick up the dry cleaning.” It was personal, a friendship of sorts, I guess. Somehow by Sunday morning there was no trace of cigar smell anywhere.

Coming down to the kitchen, dressed in my best clothes and shoes, I would be greeted by my mom or dad. Mom often just stood at the kitchen window, staring out at our beautiful backyard. There might be a bunny to see or Mr. Northern’s chickens. Always a bluejay or cardinal. My parents always ate Danish on Sunday mornings purchased at the Westover Bakery. My mom cooked only once on Sundays. On the clean counter was a pie made on Saturday and the little bit of extra crust baked separately in a little Pyrex custard bowl, just for me. The blue enamel roasting pan had either a beef roast or a stuffed chicken, ready to go in the oven. Orange Jello with mandarin oranges and slices of banana waited in the fridge. If she had time, there would also be fresh dough for rolls rising in the white Sunbeam mixer bowl. Everything prepared and ready.

Sunday mornings tell my history of love.