memories

Last night I was at a dinner party at a friend’s house who has an amazing view of the Dells and a vast sky. As the sun set and the hills changed from dirty brown to greens and pinks and the stars started to peek out from behind their curtain, I was transported back to my grandparent’s house where I grew up.

The house was built on the top of a hill with a view west across from a few acres of hilly southern Illinois. To the left of the house was forest and to the right after the leaves had fallen from the trees in the late Fall, we could see our neighbors. At the bottom of our sledding hill, which ran down from the backside of the house, and a short hike through a thin birch grove, was the lake. I spent many summers searching its banks for four-leaf clovers and swimming out to the square float in the middle of that muddy lake.
The hills to the west were treed, and in the Fall we were treated to a spectacular show of reds and yellows of the changing leaves. On occasion we could hear the plaintive cries of the peacocks at the farm on the other side of those hills a few acres away.

My grandparents house was a modest two-story ranch, as was popular at the time of the build in the mid-1960’s. They lived in the upstairs, and my mom and I lived in the downstairs. Because the house was built on a hill, the porch was built on the downslope and quite high. The roof came out over the porch and we had adirondack style chairs under that part of the roof.

We spent a lot of time on that back porch. When a thunderstorm would roll in, we would gather under the protection of the roof and watch the light show. The rain would splatter down just a few feet from our seats, we stayed dry but could smell that wonderful summer rain air.

From that porch, the view of the sky was beautiful. At night, we could see the Milky Way and my grandpa and I would often spend the evening hours star-gazing and picking out the constellations and making up our own.

During warmer weather, we would watch whole deer families cross our yard on their way to the forest. My grandma had bird feeders hanging from the eaves, and little Chickadees, and Robins, and Cardinals would come feed until, much to my grandma’s chagrin, they were chased away by my outdoor cats.

When I left home, I told myself that I wouldn’t live in a place where I couldn’t see the stars. Since then, I’ve lived in a number of large cities.

I’m finally living in a town where I can see the stars from my front yard. Every time I come home at night, I gaze upward and say hello to the night sky.

Advertisements

time slips away

April used to be such a happy month for me. It was full of the delight of the first warm spring days, the beauty of yellow daffodils, celebrations of my birthday and the looking forward to my dad and mom and grandma’s birthdays in May. April was the turning point from the drudgery and dreariness of Winter, into the life-filled lush smelling rains of summers promise.

Now, March moves into April with a sense of dread.
The early April reminds me of my dad’s untimely death, and now added is the suicide of a close friend, and the terrible attack on the Boston Marathon which resulted in at least three deaths and hundreds maimed and wounded.

April should not be a sad month, but today the lively singing of the birds outside my window does not cheer me up.
It becomes simply a reminder of how quickly time passes.
Yet another spring has fallen on my doorstep, another year disappeared into the infinite.

gone

My friend Dave was taken off life-support late Friday afternoon and died that evening around 5:30pm.

It’s a peculiar feeling to know that someone isn’t in existence anymore. It’s not like a breakup where they are still on the earth, but you just aren’t in touch. Instead, the person you once knew doesn’t exist. There is no possibility of running into them at a party or randomly at a cafe in a couple of years.

I have that feeling with my dad still. Less, but it’s there.
I often have a desire to call him, but there is nowhere to call, no search string on Google to look, no dark bar to scan.

Gone. Completely and utterly gone.

My pop used to call that unexplainable feeling the “existential heebie jeebies.”
It’s uncomfortable and ungraspable. There is nothing to hold on to.
That’s what I am experiencing.
And I do not like it.