Arrives as Gift
It all started with a parrot, followed by two or more yapping chihuahuas.
The parrot screamed: Mom! Mom!
Incessant barking sounded through the fence as loud, or louder, than a pack of small dogs sounding an alarm at close range.
Were they being corralled? Or ostracized from being cozy in their owner’s house? Was it the invisible robber that brings them into a frenzy on the regular?
No one knows.
In self defense, I pulled a portable speaker, put John Denver’s Greatest Hits on my phone, and set it to “loud.”
The distinct voice immediately took me back in time.
No longer bothered by the popinjay and the four-leggeds whose noise assailed my process, I fell into the words deeply.
“Centerpieces” my daughter replied when I asked what she needed for our family Thanksgiving meal. My daughter said the food was all handled and could I possibly put together some centerpieces for the table?
I was thrilled.
The process of creating a holiday centerpiece follows a recipe:
- scour my brain and imagination for an idea;
- consult with the brain children that magically arrive (aka: details of what the finished product will look like);
- decide on the container of choice—spiral themed plates;
- set up the six foot folding table, scissors, and clippers;
- harvest greens from my yard;
- prepare to assemble seven centerpieces;
Since losing my partner of over fifty years, apparently there is one more step: weeping.
The first holiday after my person died in April 2021, I was lost in a fog. That whole first year seemed like a fog.
Looking back, I think I was in shock.
In our situation with extended illness, I saw it coming….I could see it clearly with my mind and logic.
Yet, death’s finality (whether sudden or slow) is something the psyche needs to process in bits and pieces. Maybe over a lifetime.
I am mostly alone at home and my visiting family were on an adventure so I was solo while assembling the centerpieces—my yellow lab looked on, sleeping intermittently.
With John Denver’s voice as my vehicle, I began laying the greens and accenting them with colorful yellows, maroons, and a few sunflowers.
I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s timeAll the things I’ve done and how it’s been And I can’t help believing in my own mind I know I’m gonna hate to see it endI’ve seen a lot of sunshine, slept out in the rainSpent a night or two all on my own I’ve known my lady’s pleasures, had myself some friends And spent a time or two in my own home
A sentimental feeling, aroused by the lyrics took me back to so.many.memories; pulling my consciousness from the work.
Hands kept working, placing rounded greens on top of pointed ones.
Arriving at the heart of the song, the familiar words and their meaning in our lives opened both my heart and my tear ducts. Enter weeping.
And talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long it’s been since yesterday
What about tomorrow?
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share?
Yes . . . all those memories we shared. Hands assembling while John Denver’s voice delivered memory after memory; me weeping, then assembling, then weeping again.
It felt good to allow myself to cry.
Like a gentle rain, the contrast of holding things together, holding in my emotions, and then letting them go was a gift. The loving response to the gift of memories: my tears.
I have to say it now, it’s been a good life all in all
It’s really fine to have a chance to hang around
And lie there by the fire and watch the evening tire
Where my friends and my old lady
Sitting pacified with love.
In the end, the “polly-wants-a-cracker” bird and the herd of canine midgets are to be thanked. Without their annoyance there would likely have been no music; and without the music there may well have been no tears.
As I move toward crossing the threshold of Year Three without Dan, I am grateful for the weeping.
Grateful for songs that take me back to our youth.
Happy for the time we had and the beautiful, imperfect love we shared.
In some mysterious way, this is how you live on, my love.
Lyrics from Poems & Prayers & Promises