Thursday, May 14, 2015

Signs


"There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." 
- Albert Einstein

I was reading “Poems of Inspiration and Comfort” aloud to my dad to pass the time in the nursing facility. Cancer had knocked the wind out of him. The smartest man I knew had forgotten how to read.

“Oh, Captain, My Captain, rise up and hear the bells;” I began.

“That’s my favorite poem by Whitman,” he whispered, “it’s about President Lincoln’s assassination.”

Rise up for you the flag is flung…” I continued, but dad, who had undergone two cranial resections, interrupted me again, reciting from the beginning as if someone had suddenly found a flashlight in his brain.

“Oh, Captain, My Captain! Our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; Oh, the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead…”

I stopped him. “Let’s find a better one,” I suggested, my eyes flooding as I looked down, flipping through the pages.

“Cut the bull,” he said tiredly, but not without tenderness. “I’m dying.”
I responded with quiet acknowledgement as I shut the book. In the lobby beyond his door fragile looking people in wheelchairs were clustered around a television watching Bing Crosby sing, “May your days be merry and bright!”

 Our thoughts were heavy pieces of furniture that awkwardly crowded the room. The garish winter morning sun filtered through the high window. My dad would be gone the day after New Year’s, just shy of his 60th birthday. Two days later I would turn 38. For my 37th birthday, he and my mom gave me a white orchid plant as a present. My grandmother, Alice, had turned me on to collecting them.

“I don’t know what God will allow me to do,” he said, as if I had mind-read the rest of his tragic dilemma.  And I had.

“Try to reach us through thoughts,” I told him. “I will be listening, I promise.”

My dad used to make fun of my cooking when I first got married. Everything I made included a secret can of Campbell’s soup. He called my Shrimp Alfredo “Shrimp I’m-Afraid-Of.”  One time my parents were coming over for dinner and I made my favorite soup from scratch-butternut squash.  He wouldn’t touch it, and I got insulted. “I hate butternut squash,” he announced.
The day after my dad died my neighbor knocked on my door. She knew dad was on Hospice at my house, but she did not know he had just passed away.

“I was in Shoprite yesterday and I saw this plant and I suddenly thought of you,” she said, handing me a white orchid. “I felt compelled to buy it.”

“I love orchids!” I told her. She hadn’t known.
It wasn’t until later, while I was washing the dishes and looking at the gifted plant on the counter, huddled still in its plastic wrapping, that I made a mental connection that was accompanied by a gasp and tears.

The day after that, a family friend rang the bell.

“I was making soup and I thought of you,” she said, handing me a Tupperware container filled with homemade butternut squash soup.

“This is my favorite soup,” I said, laughing. “You don’t know that,” I told her, and she agreed it was news to her.

“Today is my day to make soup,” ‘she explained. “I was making two kinds, and I decided to bring this one over,” she explained.


I was thinking, “I guess God allows souls a sense of humor.”
Dad amused by a "big" catch.
(This post was published in the April 2, 2015 issue of Long Island Advance. Thank you to editor, Linda Leuzzi for putting it in the Easter issue.)

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Dear Internet Traveler,

Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.

Fondly,

Loren Christie

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