Simple Things, Powerful Things

Kathleen - Haddonfield, New Jersey
Entered on March 1, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: family

I am home…here in this old house with dust on my glasses. It is late, my best time. Carl is in San Francisco on one of his last trips. Christopher is in Pasadena thinking about Baton Rouge. David is in Cranbury settled with his little girls and very good wife. Kate is away at college…away…living the “away” you can only do in college. And I am here with Bob Dylan calling to me, as if all the cleaning of the boxes of unknown stuff were not enough to time warp me back to when I had long hair, short skirts and my self-righteous opinions honed on all the events of the late 1960’s. I am once again, attempting to clean out, to purge, to try to unclutter my life. The pictures, letters, pieces of old tickets and bits of memory have wrapped their tendrils around my ankles and made me sit down on the floor and slog through boxes of another era. So, Bob Dylan and I poke into those morsels of the past.

“Lay down your weary tune, lay down,

Lay down the song you strum,

And rest yourself ‘neath the strength of strings

No voice can hope to hum.”

I am not sure when I became unsure but it struck with the full force of an epidemic. When I listen to “This I Believe” I wonder what I would say. I play at trying out various things. I know it is true that I love my family and that I believe in something way bigger than myself. I know it is true that I have been surprised by how my life turned out. I know the world is exquisite and I am blessed to be in it and “have a turn”. Maybe it is in the things I sort through that I can find what I deeply believe. I find letters and notes…one from a friend to my son when he refused to play his trumpet. The consequences were great. There is a picture attached… a baby and a very young priest who wrote “The note from your silent trumpet went round the world.” Long ago for both. Something they still believe. In the box is a framed picture of beautiful red strawberries…a last anniversary gift from a man no longer my husband. It rained in mighty sheets the day he gave it to me. In the same battered corrugated box, there are pictures of my mother and father…she on his knee, he in uniform…pictures of Carl’s parents whose marriage lasted until she died. His father still signs “Mom and Dad” on cards. What do I believe of marriage? It is a mystery pulling at your heart …making it wild with joy or sorrow.

Music plays while I gather memories. Joan Baez weaves her golden thread. Judy Collins soars through the living room with Amazing Grace. And then, my son’s song comes up on the itunes list. When did that happen? He sings of his life and I wonder how he got one so soon! A sharp frame nicks my finger and there he is…the little blond haired boy with his brother the day I took them to the supermarket…no barbered haircut or perfect clothes but my favorite picture of them both.

Simon and Garfunkel chime in with “The Times They are a Changin” .I head to the den to check the song list. My home church; my comforting, small Ascension Church in North Tonawanda New York is now closed. Over the last few years friends from my 8th grade class have kept in touch. We remember so many things with this collective memory. On a visit to Ascension the smells of incense and candles was exactly the same after more than 40 years. The floor still creaked. No soaring ceilings or gorgeous paintings, just memories…priests and sisters now no longer living. I never told Sister Ursula how I still keep a journal of beautiful pieces of writing because she told me to.

Carl is away in San Francisco. I wish with all my heart that he was home. Christopher and Miki are in Pasadena with his dream of a new job. David and Elyse are nestled in Cranbury with their delightful little girls. I am so in love with my granddaughters I can hardly breathe. And Kate is away at college. I know she will find a way to come “home”. I will be waiting to hold her and let her go.

What do I put in the box for the trashman? What do I hold to be true?