Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Birthday in the Clouds

Dad, today would have been your 95th birthday. I remember as a kid lying on the grass in Warinanco Park near our house looking up at the shifting faces in the clouds and wondering if it was the departed souls looking down at us. It was a sweet thought. I’d like to do that today and look for you, but hey, I still have a job and besides, there’s a light rain. I imagine birthdays lose their meaning once you’ve crossed to the other side, but for us mortals left here, it is yet another way to remember and keep you alive in our hearts.

There’s much I wish you could see here— and perhaps you do. Your great-granddaughter’s 2nd birthday yesterday, her jumping on the bed while we Skyped, stopping in mild alarm when I played my bagpipe and then continuing her jumping to gaida music! Tearing open the puzzle present Karen sent and doing it right away, while naming all the colors of the different shapes. I wish you could see Kerala, your first grandchild, as a mother and know how wonderful she is. And how proud you would be of Ronnie on his way to becomine a doctor in chiropractic school. We will spend Thanksgiving with them next week in Portland and what a pleasure that will be!

I want you to know what a joy it is to get a snack in the school kitchen and have Talia walk in. Yes, she’s teaching first grade here and she’s a marvel, beloved by kids, parents and fellow staff alike. I wish she liked old black-and-white movies as much as I do and sit next to me on the couch to enjoy them together, but in the list of disappointments that we might have in our own children, that’s pretty small!!

Karen’s in her 40th year at school, I’m in my 39th and we both still like our work as much as we did all those years back. That’s a gift beyond measure. Ariel came over yesterday and commented that in my Conference I went to the Hambone Summit— while I got to slap my body silly, she was listening to how to make numbers behave on screens. And amidst the avalanche of electronic technology that has fallen into just about every corner of life, Karen still has to prepare the paints, wet the clay, take out the weaving materials while leading children into the pleasure of self-expression with things that get their hands dirty. Hooray for that!

And then there’s Mom. Still with us at 92 and many days I wonder why. Nothing much left but lying in bed and eating. But then she perks up and starts talking and smiles while I play piano or inhales the fresh air in the garden and exclaims, “Isn’t that lovely?” Five years now the faithful son visiting her at least twice a week and though she won’t remember it, I’ll mention your birthday.

That’s the news, Dad, such as it is. Hope the clouds are not littered with the frivolous i-Cloud droppings of our earthly life and you have a moment to look down and smile. I know you’re there somewhere.

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