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.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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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

browse DAVID’S paintings on his virtual website


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#ewbok. [d.r. thursday]

sarcasm is babycat’s modus operandi. his viewpoint is much more cynical than dogdog’s, who is a tumbling optimist. dogdog listens to the rise and fall of our voices and reacts accordingly. babycat merely takes a look at things and lists his sweet hulking body to the sardonic.

we read it on a wall in chicago: “everything will be ok.” i really want to believe that. there’s so much.

we are not 65. nor are we essential. workers, that is. so it will take some time before we are eligible for vaccines. the mutation of the virus sounds like it will give the vaccine a run for its money and, still, we drive past full restaurant parking lots, bustling bars.

yesterday was the year mark on my broken wrists. my right wrist refuses to cooperate, having been stunned into re-injury in september. i wonder how it will be in the future. there’s a lot i want to do with that wrist.

we are sharing the crossroads of before and after with the millions of unemployed people in this country. we search for ways to use all we have learned, all we have done, all we have experienced, to make a difference in the world today.

we wonder about people who used to be an integral part of our lives. we try to understand things that have no real explanation. i try to shove the grief into a corner and the anger into another corner and take off the boxing gloves. we hike on the snowy trail and those gloves are nowhere to be seen. but reality returns back in the car somewhere on the way home and then we try to move beyond the big disagree, this thing that lurks, the poison that was pointed my way.

we watch from afar, our hearts hurting, as d’s sweet dad is moved into care, out of his home, away from his wife and all that he used to recognize. we tether ourselves to our phones to field any calls from his momma as she tries desperately to deal with all the details, the loneliness and worry and fear that brings her. she made sure he has his record player and records to listen to and she yearns to be around people at a time that is most dangerous.

and we scroll through the news. our sigh of relief with this new administration is consumed by lies perpetuated by complicit voices of violence, of extremism, of overthrow. it takes our breath away to read of legislative branches, in states and in the federal government, making excuses for the dreadful and inexcusable mayhem, the inciting of riot, in our nation’s capitol. racism, gender-discrimination, ignorant social injustices are rampant. the chasm is ever-widening and the bridge is ever-crumbling.

the wall in chicago reassures, “everything will be ok.” #ewbok

and i remember hearing the saying, “it will all be ok in the end. if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

yep.

it musn’t be the end.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit DAVID’s gallery online

AT THE DOOR ©️ 2017 david robinson, kerri sherwood


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simply. go all in. [merely-a-thought monday]

my niece and her husband have a newborn baby. this tiny little boy entered the world and their lives and has turned everything upside down in every good way. like all of us, i suspect, who have had experience with newborns, they are discovering that, despite all the mechanical and high-tech devices that have been invented to aid in caring for a newborn at the very-very beginning, the most prized is simply holding that baby. and they have gone all in, loving him, snuggling him and, i’m guessing, kissing the top of his sweet-baby-smelling head over and over and over while dreaming of all the moments in life as a family to come. all in.

my mother-in-law is in the middle of taking care of my father-in-law as he slips quietly deeper into dementia. she patiently explains to him where he is, who she is. she reassures him when he is worried or frightened. she shares pictures and stories, in soft tones explaining to him, at 87, that his parents are no longer present on this earth. she spoons out masses of his favorite ice cream in bowls each night. she makes him laugh. she makes sure he has everything he needs; she watches after his safety. she has sacrificed her own activities to defer to those that speak to him, those that he might be able to still partake in. his repeated stories elicit interest and open-ended questions from her, despite the redundancy. she makes sure that they play bingo each day to keep him thinking and engaged. she has deep compassion and deep commitment to caring for this very kind, sweet man, her husband, even in the midst of the hardest of days. all in.

we approach a time in our country that will necessitate all its citizens to go all in. so much is on the line. the freedom and equality of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, economic status, religion – the ability for people to be who they are and to be supported by a country that embraces them. we simply cannot ignore the direction in which the current leadership is sinking. we simply cannot strip rights from the populace, cannot empower this soulless extremism, cannot allow all the complicit, standing by clutching their elite wallets and positions of power without conscience, to be the rule-makers, to further divide this nation. we simply cannot stand by silently while conspiracy theories radicalize this country, while leadership without compassion or heart or honesty tends to its own narcissistic agenda. we simply cannot sit back while being catapulted backwards, rewinding decade upon decade, defining this country with ideologies of nationalism, of anti-feminism, anti-LGBTQ, no recognition of drastic racial bias devouring equalities, instead of stories of a country holding its citizens with deep love, reassurance, compassion and commitment.

we simply must concern ourselves – absolutely right now – with racial disparity, with LGBTQ rights, with healthcare, with this ongoing, raging global pandemic, with education and work and housing equality for all, with climate change threatening this earth, with the violence committed by people with guns of mass destruction, with recognizing our collaborative place in the world, with truth, with justice, with the welfare of every single citizen.

we all must go all in. we all must vote. every one of the 328 million of us who is of voting age. every last one of us. all in.

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


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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

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

andcolumbus website box.jpg

SURRENDER NOW ©️ 2016 david robinson