reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the glimmer and the glint. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

the glint in his eyes was there. columbus told us about the business he was running from his memory care apartment, as steadfast as i suspect he has always been about hard work and dedication. though he was imagining that the bathroom was a library and that the lack of customers was due to the inclement weather, he remained dutifully on duty, waiting for the end of his work day with good humor. talking about his “shop” and his customers and challenges he, always humble, admitted, “i can make as good a mistake as anybody.” i took photographs of his sweet face as he talked and gestured, hands lined with age and the evidence of toil. i caught my breath more than once as he spoke and as i looked around, taking in this phase of columbus’ life. though he seemed content, dementia is a cruel robber.

my sweet poppo’s favorite saying was the quote, “be not concerned, be not surprised, if what you do is criticized. mistakes are made, we don’t deny, but they’re only made by those who try.” (unknown) with a glimmer in his eye, he was also famous for repeating (and repeating) “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” a believer in the re-do, the fix, the oh-well, the humanness, my dad never lingered in the mistake. he was also aware that he could make as good a mistake as anybody and i would bet that, given the chance, he and columbus would have been pals. these two gentlemen were raised in a certain era and times of challenge; even fifteen years or so difference would not have mattered. their humility and simple straightforward approaches run parallel, both smart and extraordinarily capable in unique ways. their commitment to family and a strong work ethic would have united them.

up in the mountains we sat at dinner and listened to my amazing daughter talk about physical therapy for a concussion she got while coaching snowboarding. she spoke of climbing and ropes and uncomfortable shoes you stuff your feet into to elicit a better grip. she and her sweet boyfriend talked about the challenges of living spaces in high elevation and adventure and camping. the one thing missing from the conversation was anything about fear. there is no fear of making a mistake, of a choice-gone-wrong. there is only fluid adjusting, correction, a different direction, a new tack. it is acknowledging, without words, that we all can make as good mistakes as the next. it is living without concern of criticism for those mistakes. it is being those who try.

were they to have been at the table with us all, in our first restaurant experience in well over a year, i imagine that columbus and my poppo would nod their heads in proud appreciation. “yes,” they would say in chorus, “that’s the way to live.”

and the glimmer and the glint would smile.

*****

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humanity revealed. [merely-thought monday]

in a twist of irony, the measured-computerized female voice on our voicemail the other day admonished us, “sorry. you did not reveal yourself to be human. goodbye.” 

what??! 

the audacity!

we are sitting in the emptied living room of my in-laws as we write.  long grooves in the carpet reveal where the couch was and a few browned leaves lay in a trail of the shedding ivy that was moved yesterday.  pictures are off the wall and the mirrors have been taken down.  we sit at the counter on folding chairs from the shed out back. 

all along the top of the mantel are shot glasses, part of columbus’ collection, the rest of which are on shelving downstairs or on top of the player piano in the family room.  they read things like “green bay” or “maker’s mark” or “south dakota” or “heidelberg” or “cedar rapids, iowa” or “yosemite national park” or “krakow” or “utah shakespeare festival” or “ithaca college” or “chicago” or “estes park” or “florida” or “skagway”.  over a hundred, there are too many to list.  but they are a glimpse into a life – a human life – a timeline shared by others. 

columbus went to some of these places, not all.  but his beloved family and dear friends would bring him tiny glassware from wherever they roamed.  their story became his story in the way that sharing stories works. 

it would be a 100-act play to sit and listen to the narrative behind each of these memory shots; it would reveal times of travel and joy and yearning and the seeking of adventure.  it would traverse across miles of decades; it would travel around the globe.  it would be punctuated with laughter and sighs and maybe a few tears. 

the thing i know – it would be rich with human-ness, rich with revelation, rich with love.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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hand-holders. [d.r. thursday]

in my memory bank, i can remember my sweet momma and poppo holding hands. they would grasp each other firmly. they would hold pinkies. they would hold hands often. and, for me, it was one of those telltale signs that they loved each other, despite the day, despite the challenges, despite everything. my dad would not let my momma cross a parking lot without holding her hand. my dad would not let my momma walk on a sidewalk without holding her hand. for that matter, my dad would not let my momma walk on the road side of the sidewalk – ever. he placed himself between momma and the cars zipping past. he opened doors wherever they went and waited to close the car door after she got in. a gentleman always, his stock of niceties was plentiful and momma never had to remind him.

i am a hand-holder. and i, obviously, come by it honestly. but i haven’t always been around hand-holding types. some folks just prefer not to hold hands. for me, it is an intimate sharing of moments, a warm reassurance, a statement of adoration. to adjust one’s stride to match another’s, to hold their hand, is gentle reinforcement – of pooh-piglet “making sure of you” right-here variety.

i don’t know if david’s mom and dad held hands through the years; i haven’t known them that long. but columbus is a sweet man who tears up when it’s time for anyone to leave, who loves to hug, who has a glint in his eye that says, “i like you! you’re in!” and so, i would imagine that he has been a handholding proponent, an advocate of a firm and tender grasp. and david’s mom stands with this man who, if he still understood and remembered all that had gone before these sadly-ever-increasing dementia-ed days, would still grab her hand, declaring his undying love and devotion.

i cannot think of a time that we do not hold hands. we hike holding hands. walk the ‘hood holding hands. watch movies holding hands. sit together to talk holding hands. it is a gift i relish – a many-many-years-yearning during which i spent years watching others. and pining.

in this painting columbus stands in the cornfields of iowa, the place he grew up, the place he packs to go regularly in his memory care apartment. jeanne finds him with bundles of clothing secured by belts or wrapped up between the sleeves tied in button-down shirts. he’s excited to see her when she comes to visit, a new limit that must be incredibly difficult for her to fathom after decades of marriage. most of the time he still knows that she is ‘the one’ – the one he would choose most in the world to hold hands with. but he is confused and sometimes he does not readily recognize her for who she is. he is still settling into his facility. it’s not likely he will go to iowa again now.

it matters not. together they stroll the halls and step into the colorado sunshine. jeanne, steadfast and brave, chats about the family and reminisces and columbus tells tales of the things he believes he has seen that day, visions of beloveds who have gone before, of places he cherishes and stories of the way-past. they walk slower than they used to; columbus breathes with a little bit of oxygen helping him along. jeanne checks in to see how far he wishes to walk, how tired he has become.

i imagine jeanne takes his hand and squeezes it. and i imagine columbus smiles. he knows she likes him. and, just like piglet, he knows she’s right there.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

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sweet surrender.

#8 Held In Grace -Surrender Now  copy.jpg

“sweet, sweet surrender. live, live without care. like a fish in the water. like a bird in the air.” (john denver)

it’s the second time this week i have quoted john denver.  surrender.  sweet surrender.

this painting in david’s HELD IN GRACE series is called SURRENDER NOW.

giving it over, surrendering, relenting, succumbing, relinquishing.  all synonyms with slightly different connotations, slightly different surrenders.  within yesterday’s grey-ness and vulnerability, surrendering seems most obvious, most necessary.  the letting-go-of-control-and-trusting is difficult.  the barricades between you and surrendering a fortress of spider-webbed resistance.  we tend to fight surrendering.  we tend to forget that we will be held within that yielding.

columbus turns 86 today.  somehow, in his ever-joyous soul, he is surrendering to a changing journey.  somehow, he is gracefully surrendering to the anguishes of dementia that slowly, but surely, take over.  he laughs.  he is quiet.  he tells stories.  he has forgotten stories.  he doesn’t remember things.  he remembers things.  he knows how to do tasks he has done for years.  he has no recollection of how to perform tasks nor does he recognize the familiar around him.  he doesn’t remember us.  he remembers us.  we hug him and he surrenders to the tears he feels when we leave.  he is held.  by his wife jeanne, by his children and his family, by his friends, by those who love him.  he is held.  his surrender, whether intentional and thought-out or simply reactional grace, is like a fish in the water, like a bird in the air.

“There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday
Tomorrow is open and right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today, and I don’t know

What the future is holdin’ in store
I don’t know where I’m goin’ I’m not sure where I’ve been
There’s a spirit that guides me, a light that shines for me
My life is worth the livin’, I don’t need to see the end…”   

(john denver)

happy birthday sweet columbus. we love you. xoxo

view/purchase SURRENDER NOW on david’s gallery site here

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andcolumbus website box.jpg

SURRENDER NOW ©️ 2016 david robinson

 


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time together. [k.s. friday]

time together song box

the air coming through the windows this morning felt cool.  almost chilly.  it has been a long while since the last time i could say that of a morning here.  we have had a very hot, very humid summer…not my favorite combination.  but today.  it was different.  and it made me feel immediately homesick.  that happens every fall for me.  maybe it’s a melancholy recognition of the passing of time, years zooming by.  maybe it’s the season-change-thing…we know grey days are lurking right around the corner.  either way, i feel homesick.

it’s a time when i miss long island the most, recall my growing-up years, pine for the autumn at millneck manor and long deserted-beach walks at crab meadow.  a time when my sweet momma and poppo are really present for me in their absence, if that makes sense.  i yearn to talk to them.  a time when The Girl and The Boy seem oh-so-grown-up now, steeped in their own adult-lives, having adventures and being a dynamic part of this world, far away, without the benefit of hearing ‘good night moon’ every night.  i know that every evening they roll their eyes at my goodnight texts to them, but i figure that someday they will understand.  homesick.

yesterday was my father-in-law’s 85th birthday.  we called columbus and sang ‘happy birthday’ to him.  my momma and daddy did that every year for me and i try to carry on the tradition with the people i love.  he laughed and told us he had gotten back from dinner at texas roadhouse and was listening to an old record.  he listens to old records a lot.  i suspect, because he is the man he is, that he gets homesick.  i can tell by his eyes that he would totally understand me if i told him how i felt.

so today, if you are spending time together with someone, memorize it.  if you are lucky enough to spend time with your momma or your daddy, please hug them.  if you are one of the fortunate parents who have their children nearby, hold on just a little tighter and look into their faces when you say goodnight.  relish it.

there is nothing like it.

time together.

 

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TIME TOGETHER from THIS PART OF THE JOURNEY ©️ 1997, 2000 kerri sherwood