Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Big Steps

new pastor
Originally uploaded by podso.

Last night I dreamed about my father. It was one of those vivid dreams that stay with you into daylight. I call my mother every day and this time my dad answered the phone. It was good to hear his voice, but confusing. "Daddy, is that you? Why are you there?" "I'm here because I'm here," he gave one of his typical confusing-for-fun responses in a cheerful voice. "Where's mom?" I questioned again. "Oh, she's here cooking up a storm." I could hear the clink of kitchen noise in the background and a lilt to my mother's voice as I heard her speak to Dad. Everything seemed right again. Of course she was cooking; she loved to cook when she had someone (a particular someone especially) to cook for. Then I woke up. Of course, disappointed that I couldn't finish the dream and understand what was going on.

I thought of my father several hours later when I was walking the track. I'm a fast walker and always have been. My legs are long and I try to stretch to the max and get my heart rate up. I don't think anyone ever passes me, no matter what their age or shape. Again I thought of how my father taught me to walk fast. Even when my little legs could not match his stride, I would try. Look into a journal entry I wrote soon after he went to heaven:

"Today, enroute to Good Will with some of Dad's clothes, I stopped at the cemetery to look at his grave. His everyday shoes were in the back seat of the car, and as I looked over at the mound of fresh dirt marking his earthly remains, I couldn't help but think he no longer needed those shoes; such rest and peace he now had. He also had peace from my continual saying "Big steps, dad."

"When I "cruise" the halls of the hospital or my neighborhood or a shopping mall, I am always reminded of my father. As a child, a big treat was running the few blocks from our home to church to walk back with Daddy for his lunch break. My little legs stretched to keep up with his long strides, and thus I became a fast walker.

"Dad walked fast until old age and the cruel disease of Alzheimer's began to chip away at him. In recent years, his pace became shuffled and unsteady, with tiny steps. I took him for a walk when
I would visit, and often nagged him to take big steps. When reminded, he would, but then would quickly forget. Workers in the care center chimed in with my "Big steps, Dad." My eyes were always focused on those brown shoes. (Imagine, I was proud that my dad, in spite of his disease, could still tie his own shoes!)

"I drove up to Good Will and gave the shoes to the man; he seemed gentle. Did he know the significance of what I was doing? I found I could not put the car in drive and leave. I watched as he dumped my dad's familiar shirts and pants in the bin. Away they went, absorbed into a pile of clothes, though his old green vintage tennis warm up outfit was hard to disguise. And the shoes, sitting way atop a pile of other shoes, did not sink into the pile at all. They were there for me to see. I finally started to drive away ever so slowly; my head turning to watch those shoes, shining in the sun, soon to be worn by someone else looking for a bargain. I rounded the corner, taking one final, tear-filled look. They were still there, so silent and still, yet so full of memories. What do they wear on their feet in heaven?"

Friday, January 19, 2007

Potting Soil

It was a beautiful Saturday. After a long time apart, the man and his wife anticipated the day, eventually deciding it was a perfect day to buy flowers for their garden.

It had been a long time since the lady had had energy enough to plant flowers. Much had been going on in various aspects of her life and there just had not been time to do such things. Her winter garden, sadly, had been without color. She was hopeful, however, that spring would sprout new enthusiasm for planting, and was heartened by the fact that her husband would be by her side to help with the task.

Home Depot was a busy place. And it was hard to find just the right flowers. The lady was starting to feel overwhelmed and grumbled to her husband that she just couldn't manage sorting through all the plants. Eventually they did find the plants and potting soil and then noted the very long checkout lines. Thinking they would be clever, they went inside to buy the plants; but the lines were just as long. Then they realized the “self-checkout” line was open and a worker beckoned them to come over. The worker helped them ring up their selections. When it came time to pay, the lady fumbled with the machine. A tall man they recognized came up and offered, “Push debit.”

“No, no,” exclaimed the lady, “I have a credit card.”

“This is how you do it,” the tall man said as he pushed his own card into the machine, and took the receipt that popped out. “I'm having a very good day today and I'm going to buy your flowers for you. Happy gardening!”

The Home Depot worker stood by, her mouth wide open. Most certainly she had never seen anything like that happen before. The tall man went on to explain that he thought he was going to need to spend $300 on pool repairs that very morning but, instead, found he only needed a $3 part. God's sense of humor in it all was that the plant bill was $30, so it seemed a sort of tithe on the money that never needed to be spent on the pool repairs that day.

The tall man then said he had to get going and told the man and lady to enjoy their planting. And they did. For the not-so-pleasant task the lady had anticipated had now become quite pleasant. As she knelt in the soil and dug in her plants, she remembered the generous, tall man and thanked God for the lesson about grumbling and generosity. She also hoped the tall man's children knew what kind of a dad they have.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We Did It Our Way

frank sinatra
Originally uploaded by podso.

We really did. We went and heard a concert by a Frank Sinatra sing-alike. I'm not a Sinatra fan, but when our symphony trio deal was made, we had to choose one pops concert. This was the only one that worked out between our schedule and our cohorts in this adventure. So we went. Spouse and the other couple were happy with Sinatra.

I did not grow up listening to him nor did I ever really pay attention to him. That's why I was shocked at how I "knew" or was very familiar with almost every song in the concert. How much Mr. Sinatra is part of our American culture ... even to me. It was amazing.

The guy really can sing just like the legend. Does he sometimes think he is Sinatra, l wonder? Anyway it was a good evening. The other snippets of old TV theme songs strung together and a "southern comfort" medley played by the orchestra were great fun to listen to, not to mention watching the antics of a lively conductor.

There is a bustling, wakening night life in our growing city. The basketball game had just let out and the bars were busy. Quite a contrast from the days we would walk uptown with our small boys and be almost alone on the streets. It was fun to be a walking part of it for a brief time. Wowsie it was late ..11ish. We're getting old or what?

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