Sunday, October 12, 2003

Just back from Sunday errands with Dorian ... .

The half-hour on the freeway allowed for time to think back on some of the memories that flowed after writing that last piece. Think I'll print out some of these pages and give them to David on his January birthday. There is much to remember, and it isn't all disturbing or hurtful.

There was Mrs. Rood. She was a grandmotherly woman whom I remember as David's first love, and as one who silently co-parented with this lonely young mother for one long and lonely summer. David was a little over five and still pretty self-assured. He looked like one of those apple-cheeked children that appeared from time to time on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

I've never known how they met, but since she lived just about where the school bus stopped each morning and afternoon, I suspect that he found her, trowel in hand in her garden. Her little house hugged the creek bank a long half-block away. I believe that she lived alone. We met only once, on the occasion of her telephone call to alert me that David had invited her to tea on Wednesday, and that she'd like to accept, thank you.

For most of that summer, at least twice each week my little guy would rush in from kindergarten -- wash his face and change his shirt to get ready for tea with Mrs. Rood. It was quite a formal occasion, but it was also quite private to the two of them. I made no attempt to meet her, wanting to honor this. This was a wise woman. I was sure that she understood. It was the same many years later when my friends, Jean and Roger, became David's close personal grownup friends -- and I quietly withdrew into the background.

On the occasion of his first experience at hosting tea, she came. A lovely white-hair-netted grandmother, lavender-scented and sensible-shoed and with the warmest of smiles. She told me that David had appeared at her door a few days before, pressed the doorbell, and when she answered --handed her a very short-stemmed very large sunflower and one of his little class pictures with the words, "...this is for your goodness!" And so saying, turned and walked away.

I guess it takes only a few of these loves in the life of a child to balance off the nightmarish events that all of the logic in the world can't explain away. It's quite possible that those unanswerable "whys" that haunted us and made me feel so impotent to protect him -- kept alive his humanity and enough of his own "goodness" to handle the pain of rejection. Mrs. Rood was living proof of his worthiness. I wonder if she knew? I suspect that she did.

Another song? This one was written while sitting under some trees high on Mt. Diablo watching the kids play. This mountain is the crowning point in the Valley.

The Real Things
Sailing a kite on a breeze
a child's arms encircling my knees
these are the real things
the truth in my life

watching reeds bend with the wind
buttercups held 'neath my chin
these are the real things
the truth in my life

artists paint so that we may remember the ways
but we laugh and deny what we see
artists play, sing, and dance -- all the ways to remember
the secret is simply "to be!"

holding your face in my hands
seeing there sea, sky, and sands
this is the real thing
the truth in my life.

Am still amazed that the music comes up as soon as I start to type the words ...


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