Thursday, May 18, 2017

P.S. Her Name Was Shannon

Even though the sidewalk appears empty, in my mind's eye, 
I still see my frisky red companion trotting along up ahead of me. 

It happened again today.

This time, I was stepping off the corner of Chennault Beach Road and 107th Street SW, just about to cross the street into my neighborhood, when I heard a voice call out.

"Excuse me. Excuse me!"

I turned round to see a woman behind me, emerging from a car that she had clearly just pulled to the curb. In fact, I realized only seconds before, she had driven past me on the corner where I had been waiting to cross.

I paused. I didn't know this person.

"Are you the one who used to walk a beautiful big dog on a long, long (her arms fully outstretched in illustration) leash?"

Haha. Umm. Yes.that would be me.

Knowing where this conversation was about to go, I hesitated to answer the question as I walked back toward her, as she came toward me.When we met on corner, she took both my hands and looked deep into my eyes.

Remember, I have never seen this woman in my life.

Yes, that was me. 

Her eyes filled with tears.

He died

She hugged me.
She told me how sorry she was to hear that.
She described in great detail my dog's sparkling spirit and spanking good humor.
She mentioned that over the years, she and her husband talked about my dog regularly, and lately have been worried about his absence. Her husband didn't want her to ask me about it for fear of upsetting me.

My eyes filled with tears.

Yes, he's gone. He was ready. He lived a good life.

She hugged me again.
She told me that she loved me.

I've never had anyone tell me they love me before they even tell me their name.

But you know, when you share life with a dog like Ranger, you get used to some pretty amazing things.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Looking Up: Mother's Day Edition

Now that's red hair.

I was a tiny little thing, much shorter than the towering round racks of clothes scattered across the sales floor of our local Arborland JCPenney. But I wandered among them confidently, knowing that I could easily spot my mother from any place in the store. All I had to do was look up. At 5'11" with waves of auburn hair, my mom stood out in a crowd and I never, ever worried about getting separated from her.

It's memories like this one - simple, straightforward, and full of security - that make my first Mother's Day without her a bit easier to bear.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A True Story

"It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense." -Mark Twain

Fact. I'd kept the check safe and secure for weeks, carefully placed between my keyboard and desktop monitor, waiting for a trip to the bank. Finally, the right errand day arrived and I gathered up this one hundred dollar beauty, tucked it into the depths of my bag, and headed out the door.

Fact. I always run my errands in a certain order: I head to the farthest destination first, and then slowly work my way back towards home. Sometimes I'll make an exception to that rule, and take care of a few right-handed stops on my outbound journey. Because logic trumps order. But on this particular day, I honored my process which called for the bank to be my last stop.

Fact. As I pulled up to the ATM, my right hand confidentlally dug into my bag to grab that oversize check.

Fact. It wasn't there.

Fact. "Whatttt. No. Of course it's there. You just need to look more methodically." This is the conversation my frontal lobe had with my freaked out limbic system. I'm a fan of self-talk.

Fact. After turning my bag inside out, emptying my wallet, and checking under all the floor mats, I reached a conclusion. The check was most certainly gone.

Fact. "Where did you last see it?" This is my husband's favorite question to ask me when I'm looking for something. Wait. That's not true. Usually he's the one searching for what I've misplaced because I hate to chase after missing things and he quite enjoys it. But in this case, I didn't mind the question because for once, I knew the answer. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I remembered feeling the check in my bag as I was fumbling for the key to look up my storage unit, which had been my second-to-last stop.

Fact. After almost a decade of putting up with an overcrowded garage, we recently rented a small storage unit to stash our collection of furniture that will someday go to live in our daughters' future homes. Best decision I've made in a long time.

Fact. Storage warehouses are busy places. And they are full of strangers. If I had indeed dropped my check on the floor in that building, that baby would be gone, long gone. Weighing my options in the bank parking lot, my first instinct was to drive back to the warehouse with a lead foot. But, my internal conversation continued, let's be realistic. The check had almost certainly disappeared. Maybe it was worth a call to the warehouse office to see if a kind soul had turned it in, but the best investment of my time would probably to call the person who wrote the check and arrange to have her stop payment and then cut me a new check net of the fees.

Fact. Ugh.

Fact. In  a sudden surge of optimism, I decided to go look for my check.

So. I reversed my route and drove back a mile,
parked my car,
walked into the lobby,
climbed into the elevator,
punched in my codes,
ascended to the third floor,
exited the lift,
found the proper hallway,
then turned round the corner to look down the aisle toward my very own unit.

This I did not expect to see. 

Fact. And, miracle of miracles, there was my check, just where I had apparently left it.

Friday, May 5, 2017

My Lilacs Are Blooming

Eventually, my mom planted some lilacs that came from my grandmother's garden. And now this bush, which came from my mother's lilac, lives at my house. 

My lilacs are blooming.

Every year, when my lilacs bloom, my mind flies back through the decades to a precise instant in time.

I can't put a date to this moment, but most likely it was spring of my first grade year. As the Michigan snows faded into memory and warm winds dried the last puddles of melt, my whole world filled with wonder at the newness of spring.

Bare legs flashed pale in the sunshine
Breezes stirred through the classroom.
Grass grew green on our school yards.

And as if by the same mysterious script, students began to show up in the mornings with bouquets of fresh lilacs for my teacher.

Glorious handfuls of lush pink-purple blossoms
Twiggy stems wrapped in wet paper towels and plastic bags
Sweet scents filled the warm classroom for days on end.

At home, we did not have any lilac bushes in our yard so this creation was new for me. Anyway, I would have been too shy to bring gifts for my teacher. But as lilac season unfolded and each new bouquet joined the others lined up on Mrs. Newheart's desk (where did she get all those vases??) I was drawn deeper and deeper into their mystically fragrant and fantastically floral spell.

And this is what I think about each and every year when my lilacs are blooming.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sunset Over Walla Walla

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers." -Henry Adams

We were all brought here for a reason.

I was brought here for a reason.
You were brought here for a reason.

And when we discover even just a tiny piece of what that reason might be, in our hearts we feel all the heavens explode in glory.

We were all brought here for a reason.