Today is my birthday. 65th. Not sure how life passes so quickly. It just does. 65 cycles, 65 full rotations. You young folks hear us all say it: We don’t feel old—until we look in the mirror. HAHA. No celebration is planned; life is low-key. I have a Skype date tonight with my two daughters and my one-year-old granddaughter who all live in Oakland, California.
When this darling toddler sees me on the screen she kisses me and I can feel the love. (I completely ignore the fact that she kisses her stuffed animals as well!) She doesn’t really know how far away I am. In her short lifetime she has seen more of me on the phone or a computer screen than me in person. She doesn’t even know that her existence is a mighty force that pulls me west. My granddaughter doesn’t know that she looks like her Mother and her Grandmother when we were young. She doesn’t know she will grow up in an urban setting of great diversity unlike anything I ever knew as a child. She doesn’t know what an awesome future awaits. She indeed is living in an Innocent Age: her life involves only today. And in reality, that’s all any of us ever have. Today.
I’ve been at Poppy’s house since November 4, except for the one wonderful week that I spent with Crusty in Broad Ripple over Thanksgiving. If you recall our story from my earlier post, Poppy and I have lived somewhat parallel lives. But let’s all remember that even though I am friends with the people I move in with, I have never LIVED with them before. So, we never really know how compatible we will be as housemates.
As it turns out, living with Poppy has been as easy as putting on an old pair of jeans. We cooked and ate meals together, we built fires when we were chilly, we watched the Colts win and lose, we raked leaves and cleaned out gutters. Clearly I fulfilled with Poppy #4 of my original goals for embarking on this adventure.
But one magical day came last weekend when we decorated the Christmas tree on December 6th, her daughter, Morgana’s, 31st birthday. We put up and decorated the tree because Morgana is coming home from California for the holidays.
I went through Poppy’s albums looking for Christmas music and found instead that our music collections (mine is now gone, of course—daughter and her hubby took many of my classics and I gave the rest away) contain the same musical selections! Besides the aforementioned strong women singers mentioned in my previous post, we were both surprised to know that we knew all the words to the whole album Last Train to Hicksville by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks! Who knew?!
We both have always agreed that Dan Fogelberg was the best poet/songwriter of our times and we listened to and sang along to the songs on both albums in the set Innocent Age as Poppy told me family stories that accompanied the ornaments that I unwrapped and she hung on the tree. We discovered that we both have the very same Dove of Peace that we put at the top of our trees. (I suppose I should say ‘used to put’ since mine is now gone with the rest of my Christmas ornaments.)
At one point, the lights inexplicably went out on the Christmas tree. We ignored them, hoping they would magically just come back on. Minutes later, as she took out one ornament, Poppy shared with me that one morning years before, she woke up to these Fogelberg lyrics in her head: Death is there to keep us honest and constantly remind us we are free. Then in her story, her phone had rung, the person on the other end telling her that her father had died. The exact second that she told me that, the Christmas tree lights came back on (we weren’t near the tree), never to go off again. She looked up, said “Thanks, Dad!” and we kept decorating.
We never did get to any Christmas music. The depth of Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics were not to be trivialized with seasonal songs.
Staying with Poppy, I have relived some of my past, embraced my present, and feel rested (like I have been home) and ready to jettison into my future. (I mean…I unpacked and had my stuff in a closet and drawers!!). I move today to another friend’s house to help her out after surgery that she had this week. I feel so fortunate to be able to have the time and freedom to do so.
And as Robert Frost said Freedom lies in being bold. I hope to boldly move forward letting go of yesterday’s pathways, forging some new ones where possible.
Time stills the singing
A child holds so dear
And I’m just beginning to hear
Gone are the pathways
The child followed home
Gone, like the sand and the foam.