Phoning it in
Monday February 20th 2017, 11:37 pm
Filed under: Family
It is brutal out there. We’re not near a creek and we’re above the flood plain near the bay so we figure we personally are okay–as long as that big tree doesn’t fall on our bedroom.
Michelle was off with a friend and when she came home she said that our street was well under water two blocks away and that they’d had to go around the neighborhood to drop her off.
A few hours later, with it still raining nonstop, we looked at each other: anybody in their right mind would absolutely stay home. Richard had, working from home rather than risking driving under those leaning waterlogged eucalyptuses en route.
And so… The three of us drove out of here the one way we could still go. There was a Verizon store a mile away, and Verizon had recently offered a new family plan that was not only cheaper than what we had, it offered unlimited text/call/data service for each phone unlike what we currently had. Since nobody on earth would want to be out in this, it would be the one day the store wouldn’t be swamped with people trying to change to that new plan while the offer lasted.
It helped that we couldn’t think of any place between here and there that the water would seriously collect in, and that turned out to be true.
We were third in line but that line went fast, even though the workers there were occasionally pacing up to the windows and looking out on the storm–I just hoped none of them had a long commute in that.
We actually got in and out of a phone store and home again in well under an hour with the thing done. Even when that included discussing options on replacing my iPhone 4s and one other phone on that plan. (We did keep the ones we’ve got for now.)
I guess it literally paid to be a little crazy.
Okay, this is silly.
Wait–back up a bit. When I was home from college over Christmas break when I was 19 or 20, my dad surprised me by telling me he was going to take me shopping for a pair of boots for Christmas; he knew it would be my first pair ever. It was cold and snowy where I was going to school and he wanted my feet nice and warm. Besides, hey, boots!
Took me a moment to get over the shock. My dad. Wants to take a daughter. Shoe shopping. Brave man.
What I ended up with was inexpensive waterproof synthetic ones. One, because I knew the folks had three kids in college that year, and two, because trying to buy my feet anything was hopeless anyway, so once I found something, anything, that I could at all get my feet into I knew that was as good as I was going to get and the fact that these were waterproof seemed practical. Finding something that actually fit my 6.5EE and high arch was completely out of the question.
Back at school, I found my feet hurt pretty fast wearing those and I only wore them to get from my apartment to campus. And only a few times, with regret at not letting my dad push me to try harder. I should have skipped getting those altogether, which I’d known all along but I just couldn’t let him completely down.
Fast forward to when I had kids in elementary school. The PTA in our school district ran, at the time, a wardrobe exchange in order to pass clothes on to those less well off, while covering for their pride by presenting it as a way to offer warm clothes for those going to Tahoe who only needed to rent snow clothing those few days out of the year. Wash them, bring them back, done.
So anybody could rent outfits for their kids for a few bucks and anyone in the school district could buy them for about that who needed to. The funds went to cover the rented trailer they ran the operation from.
So I brought in some warm outgrowns for the cause one fine day.
Someone had donated these shearling-lined horsehair boots that look like a Westie terrier about to be told to get down off that chair. I thought they were hilarious and tried slipping one on, and then the other, and by golly I could actually get my feet in them! What a great Halloween costume! Besides, my oldest was getting to the age where it was my job to embarrass her, right?
The woman was incredulous. You LIKE those?! Nobody checks those out. They’ve just sat there forever. You want them? Take them!
Well, that wasn’t quite fair, so I went home and got those old tall rubbers and exchanged them pair-for-pair. They were happy, I was happy. The fact that I wear European 37 and these were stamped 39 40 on the bottom–US 8-9.5–three full sizes too big, no wonder I could get them on.
But those polyurethane ones from back in the day left a lasting impression: I don’t do boots. Period.
Although I sure wished I did when I was in DC January a year ago and it was five degrees out with a strong wind and we were trying to hike the C&O Canal in the cold (not for very long).
And then there was my younger daughter’s enthusiasm. “Boots! Cute Boots! You need cute boots!”
As if. Come on, they don’t exist now any more than they did then.
But we had that conversation every so often these past few years and I always wondered if that was actually so.
Recently, she needed some cheering up. And I knew how much she would love it if…it couldn’t hurt to look…
I went to a specialty shoe store that advertised wide widths. No dice. I searched Birkenstock’s online store. Their American importer? Nope.
And then I found a German Birkenstock store. They had a few pairs left of a now-discontinued style. I knew that ordering from Germany was going to cost me a whole lot in return charges if this didn’t work, I had no idea how they would handle it if I did, the cost was in no way cheap but I thought how much Michelle would love it. I thought about getting to tell my 90-year-old Dad that, hey, Dad! I did it! I finally got those boots you wanted for me all that time ago!
And so I took a deep breath and typed what I needed to type.
They came yesterday.
I put one foot in. I put the other foot in. Walked a few steps. And then just about shouted to the rooftops, THEY FIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They’re not high boots, they’re more like high top sneakers, but wearing something above the ankle is a whole new thing here as it is. The doctor who treated my broken bones in November wanted me to be wearing something like this instead of clogs, and there you go.
I keep laughing at the name of the boot: I have a Bartlett pair.
We heard a thunk this afternoon, and opening the door, I found a box: it said New Balance. The mailman hadn’t even driven his truck away before I read the label, laughed, and started walking next door. He saw me and was startled–Did I–?
No problem, I laughed, it just helps me keep in touch with the neighbors.
Jim opened at my knock and I handed him his box. “Those aren’t my shoes, mine came yesterday,” pointing at my feet, and he laughed.
I wonder if he was as excited about his as I was about mine. I mean, you just don’t want to miss out.
Since he still wasn’t feeling too great that day, Wednesday I drove Richard to what I assumed was going to be a half hour, an hour at most at the doctor’s.
I got in three and a half hours of knitting in two different waiting areas. (He’s fine, no worries.)
Near the lab, there was an antsy little boy of about two and a half, three at the most. Trying to be good. Playing with his dad’s phone for entertainment, small and portable, but a real toy is always a good thing so I offered them a finger puppet and told the little boy, “Happy Birthday!” So that his daddy would know it was for keeps, too.
And we waited.
There seemed to be some uncertainty at one point and I said it again to the little boy: “Happy Birthday!” This time he gave me a great big smile back and did a little leap for joy.
And I knitted.
The afghan spilled all over me and my large chair and onto the floor, greens and white and teal, and every now and then I would get to the end of a row and turn it over, showing more of the other side of the work. The front and back are so different. But of course the strands would tangle on each other every time, and sometimes I would reach into my knitting bag and move the balls around right away, sometimes, eh. Wait till they refuse to let the others go past. And then I’d turn again. In between, I would get to where it changes from the plain edging to the patterned center and have to track down which strand was an end being woven in upwards and which was the next working one, a little bouquet of yarn stems to choose from here and then again down here.
They got whom they were waiting for faster than I did: an older man was wheeled out from the lab. The younger man got up and walked over to him and then spoke with the receptionist behind him while the little boy danced around. Grandpa, if he was the grandpa, looked like Carlos Santana and one could almost expect him to whip out a guitar and start playing into the quiet. But the towering ceiling seemed to swallow all sounds.
Mostly, though, I was just focused on the work in my hands and letting them be. I’d been at it for long enough at that point to wish for an icepack break–not too fervently yet, but since I’d forgotten my phone and anything else to read there was simply nothing but knitting to do. Besides, I wanted to get this thing finished this week anyway.
After about a minute I finally realized I had been feeling eyes upon me for awhile and glanced up.
And there was the man in that wheelchair, all of them still there, waiting. No word had been said. He wanted my eyes, and once he had them he held them a moment.
He took in that afghan. And in no more hurry than one would take to knit such a thing he gave me a slow-motion, deeply affirming bow of the head and then, reverently, a thumbs-up, holding my eyes again. It came so closely from his heart that to emphasize that point he slow-swooshed that thumb forward and up a second time, like a conductor extending the symphony’s note and holding it out there in space. He wanted me to know that. He could not leave till I did.
Whoever he was, however he’s lived his life, this was someone who knew the creative life and understood the time and perseverance it takes to become good at what one does. He wanted me to know he knew I was there.
I’d never met him, we never spoke a word, and yet the next day it was still such a powerful experience that while I was finishing those last patterned rows I nearly cried. I couldn’t write about it immediately because I was still trying to process how to say it.
That man radiates love. I want to be like him when I grow up.
Yes you can
A friend of mine went up to Lacis in Berkeley for the first time. Lacis is both a shop and a museum of all things lace; it was founded by Kaethe (I was told, as best as my hearing could tell, to pronounce it Katy) Kliot. Who as a refugee from post-WWII Germany funded her ticket to America by resurrecting old doily patterns to make cotton tablecloths for American soldiers to send home.
And then she spent a lifetime finding and publishing and selling every lace book title you could possibly hope to find. When she couldn’t find fine enough knitting needles for certain types of work, she manufactured her own.
Ruth marveled that she’d missed out on discovering such a marvelous place earlier and wanted to know if any of us had ever been. This is what I told her:
Years ago I bought, from Kaethe Kliot herself after she helped me find it, a book on Shetland lace whose price was marked in British pounds so I had no idea what it was going to cost me. (It was not inexpensive, as it turned out, but I had been able to find it nowhere else.) But what it gave me was the memory of talking to Kaethe herself before she passed. One of the things I was there to look for, I told her, was a musical treble clef and base clef done in a lace pattern; was there such a thing?
She glanced upwards and searched mentally through her vast library for several long seconds, then was quite certain as she looked at me again and said, “No–but it wouldn’t be hard, here’s how you do it…” and she was quite excited to be part of an unexpected collaboration here. Excited for me, clearly knowing how much I would love the discovering in the process.
At the time, though, I was barely started at being self-taught on doing lace and there was no way. But what she did was make it so I had hope, or at least wanted that hope, that someday, maybe, I could live up to what she believed I could do.
I actually still haven’t ever knit such a thing, but now it’s only because I haven’t bothered to. By now I know I can.
But I loved her for her faith in me and I loved, too, that there was an entire warehouse of knitting books and a woman who knew every pattern in every one of them. Who wanted everybody to be able to do anything they wished they could do.
Edited to add: I just found the Lacis tribute to Kaethe, here, with pictures of her work and of her. I have visual memory damage specifically for faces and yet I recognized hers instantly. With great fondness.
Doesn’t have to be pink
A quiet day, a bit of knitting, a sick husband, here, honey, drink some juice, drinking some myself while trying not to catch his bug…
And with all that is going on in politics I happened to stumble across this: a cooling treatment that helps chemo patients keep their hair through it all, and the study was done right here at UCSF.
Well, huh. If you can’t afford the cooling scalp, maybe a plain icepack or two? You know, we could definitely design a hat with a giant pocket to hold them in place, and you always want a layer of fabric between you and the colder side of the pack anyway to keep the skin from freezing.
Those sewn-square pussy hats would be about the right shape to add to.
Monday February 13th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Life
For years I’ve parted my hair a certain way because of the way the divot in my scalp from the skin cancer removal made the hair go wonky otherwise. Straight up, it used to be. (Note to self: next time don’t wait nine months to get that spot looked at. I could have kept a lot more hair.)
This morning I thought, y’know, it’s been awhile since I’ve tried; I’m curious. And I parted my wet hair on, wait for it, the other side. Thrills! Chills! Excitement!
And it works now, too, if I want to keep it that way; the divot is much less than it was.
The only problem was that all day long, any time I walked past a mirror it was startling to see my face on backwards.
Knitting diplomacy fail
I think maybe that was a mistake.
Yesterday we had our lupus support group meeting, and rather than have someone present info on some medical topic of the day it was requested that we come prepared to talk about our hobbies, our creative outlets, what we do that we enjoy.
I had no idea MR quilts, but wow does she ever. She brought some small ones to show us and I wished out loud that my mother, who also quilts, could have been there to see them.
The conversation continued around the room till me, the last in line. I said that if I took this out of its ziploc it was probably never going back in, and seeing the badly bulging bag coming out of my tote on that rainy day there was a chuckle around the room.
And so they dutifully admired the afghan project.
And then the leader of the group asked me the same question she’d asked the quilter: “How long did it take you to do that?”
“Well, usually an afghan takes me about an hour an inch but this one is taking two.”
Her eyes kind of bugged. “TWO HOURS an INCH?!” I could see any possible hope of interesting her in learning to knit instantly vanishing. Hard.
I knew that explaining untangling the balls of yarn and dropping and picking up every fourth stitch every sixth row down four rows certainly wasn’t going to help the cause, talking about five or six hour (or more) cowl or hat projects wouldn’t rescue it–I had already lost them all.
But hey, nice afghan.
(And now you have some context for yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek post.)
He was a stranger and we took him in
The second meeting of Stake Conference was this morning.
One of the last speakers was a man who was born in Korea. His father came from very difficult circumstances and, trying to make a better life for his own family, took a job in Tehran for several years to be able to send money home, having to leave his wife to raise their new baby and toddler alone but at least he could provide for them.
At last she was able to bring the children to go see their dad.
Right as, it being the mid-’70s, Iranian assets were frozen. The family could not get to their savings, they could not get home, they had no job to go to if they even could, and from what I understand they could not so much as go buy food–they were completely stranded.
A Mormon family in Utah took them in and their teenager gave up a bedroom so they could have a place to sleep. The man telling the story was four and a half at the time. He went on to say that he and his sister got a good education, everybody was safe, everybody’s circumstances are comfortable now (and he lamented that his own children had no way to understand just how good they truly have it) and they owed it all to the great generosity of those individuals who took them in and to this wonderful country which had let them come; he was so grateful. It was clear he had spent his life seeking to live up to the chances that had been offered him and to give back.
I was a stranger and ye took me in… He was overcome a moment.
After he sat down, the Stake President stood to give a few final remarks. He stated, first, “That was not political.” The crowd chuckled a little, and he explained: they had planned this meeting six months prior. And yet here we are.
Patrick Kearon’s talk last April to the church and the world at large summed up his experiences with, This moment does not define the refugees. But our response will define us.
…This post typed as a longtime friend’s husband, naturalized as a US citizen most of his lifetime ago on a dual citizenship, is stranded in Iran not knowing when or even if he can come back to his own home to see his US-born children and grandchildren again.
We are better than this.
One single skein. And then another.
On my way out the door to Al’s memorial service I stopped a moment, looked at the finished cowls in ziplocs, and one leaped out at me and into my purse as if the others didn’t even exist: that one. It had been sitting there waiting to be discovered ever since I’d made it. I even ran the yarn ends in recently in anticipation but had put it back away–it wasn’t its time at the time but now maybe it was.
Talking to one of his grandchildren afterwards whom I’d met when she was a little girl, she was wearing a blouse…and the blues were a match. Well there you go. From me and her grampa, with love, since she used to see me sitting knitting waiting for my girls to come out from their music lessons with him.
(I was wearing a cowl in a similar shade playing backup plan just in case but when she exclaimed over hers and how good it looked with what she had on, I couldn’t improve on that.)
Tonight we went off to a semi-annual Saturday evening church meeting, and the local Mormon mission president and his wife were among the speakers. Now, my brother and he were great friends growing up together and her grandmother was my sister’s favorite teacher at church and I’ve wanted to knit for her for several years now before they finish their assignment and go home. Which is coming up. I just never know when they’re going to show up because they float between a lot of different wards.
I was still wearing that other blue.
So I asked her afterwards if she liked the color. Why, yes she did. Could I, then…? She was quite surprised and quite delighted, and started to say something to the effect that but then you won’t have–and I laughed. “I’m always knitting.” Matter of fact, right there in my purse was yet another cowl. And it was, fancy that, a near shade of blue to hers. So there you go.
It felt good. It felt really really good. That’s why I make random cowls, because they like to run out and go play just like that.
Thursday January 26th 2017, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Garden
The two black velcro ties holding my right pinky and ring finger together are officially history.
I had the baby blanket project in my lap when the quite-young doctor came in to review the new x-rays–the heavy project he’d specifically told me ten weeks ago not to work on for five weeks and then when the hand still wasn’t fully healed I think it was supposed to be just assumed that knitting would still be on hold for five more.
Yeah good luck with that one. The first five were eternity enough.
I told him of my elderly friend who had lived to see her baby tree produce, how good her pomegranates were, and that I had planted my own this morning–and I couldn’t resist adding that I’d pulled a whole lot of old gravel away down to the good soil (and had replaced a wide swath of it with more good soil.) I’d marveled that there was any possibility that this little thing could possibly come to provide the harvest Jean’s had in such a short period of time but I was willing to find out.
And clearly there was that baby blanket and it was not a small thing. He laughed and said it was pretty and added something to the effect of, clearly you’re going to do what you’re going to do. He did make sure my hand had been okay with all of that.
Well, yeah, mostly (shrug). That got a grin out of him. He made me promise to come back if there were any problems.
What I didn’t say was the careful untangling of the tightly felted roots once they were out of that plastic sleeve and the fact that I’d planted the tree three times: no, that’s not quite it (dig), that’s… umm, almost but (dig) there, third time’s the charm. That’s how I wanted it to look from over here as it grows, got it. That’s it!
There is such an element of joy to starting a creative project that will still be creating and giving of itself a hundred years from now.
I can just picture the young doctor and his wife descending on Yamagami’s after my enthusiasm: What was that variety? Parfi..? Parfianka…? Yes, that one!
Al would have loved this
(Photo added in the morning after a little more work.)
Where a gravel pathway was laid down, oh, 50 years ago or so, the rocks run deep.
And then there was that tree trunk. When we cut down a bunch of scraggly trees and started relandscaping a few years ago I had the tree service leave this one tall stump at over six feet–I wanted the Ladder-Backed woodpeckers to be able to have old dead wood to find bugs in.
I never saw a woodpecker touch it but the squirrels sure liked their express lane offramp from the fence. Various birds liked to play king of the mountain on it to scope out the view of their feeder.
About a month ago I kind of toggled the thing a little, thinking it should be well rotted by now and better to take it down than to have it fall.
It held solid.
I’ve wanted a pomegranate tree ever since our friend Jean shared from her two-year-old one last year. She had planted it at 88 and gotten to share the fruit. I had never before tasted one picked when it was so ripe that the thing had started to burst open; I know it partly depends on variety (she didn’t remember what hers was) but I’d had no idea they could be like this. If we were going to start our own, this is bare-root season.
Yesterday I worked down through all that gravel–it went to nearly a foot–and started turning over bare soil below at last.
And asked Richard when he got home what he thought about that placement.
Well, if I liked it. He personally would have preferred it further back…
Your house too. It needs to make you happy, too. I reminded him that I’ve wished I’d planted the Tropic Snow peach a few feet further right and it was too late now and I didn’t want to make that mistake again. I wanted to do it right this time.
Today I went off to Yamagami’s. The Parfianka is a taste-test favorite and has seeds that are both quite small and quite soft–meaning, okay for me post-op, and it helped that one of their staff had previously told me it was his favorite.
When they saw me with my walker, one of them dropped what she was doing and took me right to where that particular variety pomegranate was, and then, seeing that it would be hard for me to do, she not only pointed out good specimens but reached to the back and pulled several out from there as well as the front and put them down on the ground in a row for me to choose from where I could see them all individually. She helped me get a really nice one, and had I been on my own I wouldn’t have been able to risk reaching for it for fear of losing my balance into the lot of them. I was and am grateful.
That stump was in the way of digging where Richard wanted this to go–and you can’t risk having it fall on the new tree, either. I thought, after all the rain we’ve been having, maybe it made a difference? And again I tried giving it a tug.
It came away, not in a fast collapse but rather slow and measured and easy to aim. Well THAT worked!
With that out of the way I started pulling away rocks again. And it was fascinating: just a few feet away, yesterday’s had been jagged. Most of these were smoothed, rounded, far easier to deal with. Still, it was a lot of work and enough for one day. And I’m glad now I did two holes because both will have good soil for the tree to grow into.
Pleased at the depth and width, I declared it done and went off to get Richard.
Tomorrow the prime planting soil from Yamagami’s goes in. Tomorrow I plant my new fruit tree in Al’s memory. I can’t wait to tell Jean.
Tuesday January 24th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Friends
Sunday, when I told Eric’s story about his marathon, I typed that little thought at the end.
Then I started to delete it. I didn’t want to take away from what he’d said and I was afraid it might.
But if… And I didn’t.
Then again… But I left it.
I second-guessed myself all the way up to bedtime and wondered who I’d written it for.
Well, me, as it turned out: because even though the hailstorm was over by the time I got to the audiologist’s, it was raining off and on (on, just then) and I did not want to bother with struggling to get the walker out of the back of our small car–it’s not that it’s heavy, it’s that it barely squeezes in and out of the trunk without some wrangling to get the angles right coming and going and I didn’t want to bother in this weather.
So I just grabbed the cane in the back seat and made do.
It being my first time there since the latest head injury, John-the-audiologist had never seen me that wobbly, and I didn’t have the walker to steady my balance by. I told him about it and that I’d come a long way since and that I was fine sitting down.
Which he could tell, because by then I’d been sitting in his office just peachy-fine for awhile. But it was when I stood up to go that he got worried, more so when I admitted I’d taken a tumble into a nice cushioning (except where I’d pruned it) bush that afternoon. He wanted to offer me an arm not just to the door but clear to my car.
Just as the skies threw a new bucket of cold water on that idea.
I started to brush him off with, You don’t have to do that!
Wait, I told myself–what did you just write just last night? Were you listening to yourself? You know you should have gotten that walker. And I realized that all that internal fussing over that blog post had helped me remember how I needed to see this. Let him be his best self, willya?
John had no raincoat on, not even a sweater, but good man that he is, he made sure I was in okay before he dashed back towards his nice warm dry (which he was not now) office. I was glad that at least I’d gotten a decent spot close in for his sake.
More consonants just like that
Monday January 23rd 2017, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Friends
Drove through a cloudburst that was quite the hailstorm, than an underpass on the freeway where the day’s rains had collected to too deep for comfort. Traffic actually slowed down to a responsible slow crawl through the whole thing.
My audiologist likes to check the hearing aids every six months to make sure everything’s in good working order.
My question to him, was, Given what these cost and that the three-year warranty just expired, is there an extended warranty I can buy?
His answer surprised me, so I’m putting it out here in hopes that someone who needs the information finds it. He told me, Yes, the company sells one, but the costs are very high–you’re much better off contacting your homeowners insurance and asking for a rider specifically on the aids.
That would never have occurred to me, and given that I for one am not in a hurry to pay a third of a Prius towards my ears again anytime soon, I thought I would put that out there.
Then he handed me a bluetooth pendant, clicked a few clicks on his computer, and presto! One more dB in the uppermost frequencies of speech per my request, done!
Sunday January 22nd 2017, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Friends
That new guy who looks like my sister’s identical twins spoke in church today.
When he was a student, he’d decided to do a semester abroad at the BYU Jerusalem Center. It turned out a local marathon was going to coincide with his semester there so he decided to train for it and make that part of his experience, too.
Well, come the day of, he maybe wasn’t quite as prepared as he thought he was, he said, and he thought that by starting off fast and staying fast he could get through the race in less time.
Mile after mile… He passed people stopping at way stations to eat a bite and was glad he didn’t need to do that–it would wreck his time.
Till at last he found himself collapsing on the side there, unable to take one more step, really not feeling great, thinking his friends would finish and come back and pick him up. He was surprised at how wiped he was and he felt like he’d failed.
And so there he was; he said it felt like a very long time but was probably only five minutes or so, when a stranger came to him to see if he was okay. He clearly didn’t look okay to him. The man talked to him, but he was a Palestinian and our college student didn’t speak Arabic and shrugged, Sorry!
He watched the man then cross the street to a vendor and come back with a sandwich.
You need this. Eat this. The moment transcended the language barrier.
Eric finished his talk by reading the parable of the Good Samaritan, with feeling.
And I considered the thought that sometimes we don’t even know we need to be helped. Until we allow someone to do so.
The great nephew
Saturday January 21st 2017, 9:35 pm
Filed under: Friends
Diana’s memorial service.
The seats were all filled over on the left where the knitters I knew were. There were several empty ones on the back row on the right, and I sat down at the end there, ready to scoot over as needed. There seemed to be a lot of family there and they should always have the best seats.
He was about Parker’s age (Parker is in kindergarten) and he came in with his daddy and they sat down two rows straight ahead of me before the service started.
The father was a young vet, by all appearances, and he walked with a beautiful wooden walking stick. I glanced down at my own wooden cane by my feet and then quickly to his and his eyes in that way that you do with a smile in solidarity when you see someone else who’s been there, gotten used to that. When that’s the way it is now, having a nice one makes it easier. (I knew how tight that room could get with a crowd, had seen the number of cars in the parking lot, and the fact that it was going to pour shortly–I’d left the walker in the car and made do.)
Since I wasn’t interrupting anything yet, I reached into my purse and thought, hmm, not that…ah, that one. Perfect. We’ll call it a California condor, even if it was knitted in Peru. I offered it to the dad and both he and his little boy turned and said thank you.
As the music and speakers began, the little boy played quietly with it rather than in grand sweeping motions: he had been well and lovingly coached in what was expected of him at his great aunt’s funeral–and he really liked that condor.
At some point they got up for a minute, and before they returned one of their two seats was taken; there was still an empty one there at the back, though, and the dad had his little boy come sit down by me. Where he again was very quiet for a very long time, his daddy beaming behind him at his adorable little boy.
My impression was that it was easier on the dad’s body to be standing than sitting.
But at last Justin, if I heard his name right, looked up at me and with big questioning eyes said something to me that I had no way to know what it was.
I had my hearing aids cranked up. Nope. I told him the condor was for him to have, and that made him happy, but something else was still on his mind. I tried whispering back the ever-helpful, I’m sorry but I can’t hear, while pulling a hearing aid out to show him, but he didn’t yet have enough life experience to understand what that really meant. I did catch the eye, though, of the young girl of about ten on the other side of him and tried to convey the thought of, would you mind helping us out a little bit?
Covering for a deaf grownup’s shortcomings wasn’t her specialty yet, either. She gave me a friendly smile but had no idea what to do.
He whispered something else and I whispered back, I don’t know.
Oh okay and he turned to her.
What he’d wanted, it turned out, was a bathroom. And I was one of the very few people in that room who actually knew where it was. Oops. Diana’s brother who’d set up the venue was a Mormon but my understanding is that he lives nowhere near California and we were at The Annex, a stately old reception hall that had come with the property when the Mormon Church had bought it to build a chapel on the lawn in 1950 or so. My son’s wedding reception had been held there. I knew the place. I also knew you had to climb some semi-hidden stairs to the far right over thataway as if you were going to go up into an attic–it is not intuitive.
That all got taken care of, the speakers got done speaking, the final song was sung and the closing prayer was offered.
And then Justin stood in front of me, wanting to ask one more thing. (And he didn’t have to whisper anymore.) He had seen that I had more finger puppets in my purse: what were they all for?
I have grandchildren, I answered, wishing I could swoop him into a hug as if he were one, too. Such a sweet child.
He asked, in wonderment, Are they all for them?
(And I realized I had just restocked so I probably had several dozen in there. The finger puppets are small and light, the purse is big, things easily disappear into the depths, so, the more the easier in there.) I said, Well, sometimes like when I’m at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office I’ll see a little kid who is unhappy or crying. And I give them one and then they’re happy!
Oh! he said, patting his condor he’d tucked into the little pocket on his white shirt, its head peeking out at the world. He was going to make sure that if he saw any little kids who needed to be happy he’d take care of them.
He did not ask me for more. He was willing to share his.