Saturday, July 13, 2013

what if...

Ever play the "what if" game?  I've read and have probably been told that doing so isn't such a good idea.  The logic follows that so many of the events that happen in our lives are beyond our control that to get lost in this little game can often cause a great deal of pain from regret.  Although the other night, when I was picking up Mr. Tailor from work, we got wrapped up in this game on the car ride home.  And this time it wasn't so much of a game as it was a moment of reflection and wonder that went something like this:

My parents were only thirteen years old when they met each other for the first time.  My grandfather, David, worked for the Mesa Arizona school district and so when summer time arrived, he and my grandmother would often pile their six kids into their car and take them on long trips around the country.  By the time dad hit the age of eighteen, there wasn't a state in the continental US that he hadn't visited.  It was on one of these summer trips that my father met my mom.

It was a Sunday and my grandparents decided to keep the Sabbath day holy by attending a Mormon church in Tampa, Florida, even though they were only passing through.  And as it happened, my mom who was also thirteen at the time, was sitting in the pew either behind or in front of my dad.  They took a liking to each other and committed to writing letters - which they did for eight years, until they were married at the age of twenty-one.

My question to Mr. Tailor was simple.  What if my mom had been too tired to go to church that day?  She could have easily spent all of Saturday fishing with her dad and been completely tuckered out to even consider church the next day, let alone go.  Or consider my father's parents- I'm sure they were experiencing some fatigue of their own after an extended road trip- not to mention the fun they must have had wearing wrinkled and dirty church clothes to greet complete strangers.  But they went and I was born ten years later.

This story gave me Mr. Tailor's full attention as he quieted in thought.  Then I proceeded to tell him about how I'd met his father.  It was a Memorial Day weekend and my youngest sister, seventeen at the time, was getting married.  The wedding was held in our little home town and Mr. Tailor's dad was part of the wedding party and a roommate to the groom.  That's when I met Mr. Hero for the first time and four months later, we were having a wedding of our own.

So I asked Mr. Tailor the following question: What if my sister hadn't married Roger that day?  What if Mr. Hero had been sick and couldn't stand in as best man?  Or what if he'd hit it off with my other sister, who'd originally been his blind date for the weekend?

"Then I wouldn't be here." Mr. Tailor wondered out loud as his smile caught mine.

On the blind date w/ my sister, Betsy.  She wasn't buying it.
A few days after the wedding.  Mr. Hero and his other roommate, Andy,
 giving me a lift to the shuttle for home.

There certainly was no guarantee from the beginning that any of these unions would work out. Everyone was so young back then and willing to take the risks involving the matters of the heart.  Since January, Mr. Tailor has had his own heart swept away by a young beauty who makes his face glow every time he mentions her name.  She is sweet and bright and has enough energy to keep up with his seemingly endless supply.  He could easily apply the "what if" game to his own life- to the point where the two of them came together- and he did.  They're still young yet, and have lots of time to get to know and understand each other.

Mr. Tailor and Claire

It's a little unsettling to think that the major events of one's life have depended on the presumably insignificant ones.  But I guess that's how the ball tumbles sometimes.  And while thinking about the "what if's" on this night, alone with my son, I couldn't help but feel an immense gratitude for the significant "what is".  And left it at that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

romney roving


Thursday, June 13, 2013


We settle into the comfort of the familiar- a cherished woolen blanket
passed down from my mother's mother to me.
The routine of our day lulls us to sleep in the rocking chair
Papa carved from cedar wood. 
His hands strong and sure and spotted from the sun.

We can rest in this moment-forget the lessons from our past

tied up in the loosely bound paperbacks of the attic.
Then surrender completely
to the uncertainty of tomorrow's
new day.

Monday, May 27, 2013

in memoriam

I never had the chance to meet my great-uncle Johnny.  He was killed while serving in the US Army, somewhere in Italy during World War II.   My twenty-three-year-old paternal grandmother was carrying out her missionary responsibilities for the Mormon church in the state of Missouri at the time and living over a thousand miles away from her parents and six siblings when she received the long distance call about her brother. The following are the words she shared in her autobiography:
     This was my first experience with the death of a loved one.  I felt all alone, far away from home, with no one there to comfort me.  I put on my coat and went walking, with no destination, just going on whatever street I came upon.  The cold stinging wind on my face felt so good to me.  The numbness of  my face matched the numbness of my mind... it was not until I received letters from the family at home two or three days later that my numbness melted and I could cry and feel relief.

Johnny is our only known relative to have lost his life while serving in the armed forces. I'm grateful he's the only one.

A Revolutionary War cemetery, tucked neatly behind the Paxton Presbyterian church, just minutes from our home, is the resting place for many of Harrisburg's most prominent citizens such as John Harris II, the founder of our city, and William Maclay, the first US Senator from Pennsylvania (a street in Harrisburg proper respectfully bears his name). Many of the Rutherfords lie here as well- it's my understanding that the family members were wealthy landowners that held a considerable amount of real estate in the area.

It is sobering to walk the small grounds, give a try at deciphering the dates on the tombstones- many of which have faded away with the passage of time.  I love the simple tombstone belonging to George Washington which reads:

     George Washington died Aug- 1898.  Born a slave in Georgia.  Came north in 1865 with the 9th PA Calvary and spent the remainder of his life in Paxton Valley.  A faithful Servant and Exemplary Christian.

Not unlike many Americans, we enjoyed this extra day to play.  The truck was loaded with our bicycles and we headed north on 81 to Stony Creek, where we biked to a fishing spot along the trail. Sitting underneath a cacophony of birds, next to the moss covered trees and stones, we replenished our hungry bellies and inhaled the beauty of the creek scintillating below our feet.  Mr. Hero took three of the guys down a bit further where the water deepened, while Mr. Tailor stayed with me and filled me in on the events of his life. I was glad to sit and listen to his happiness, my fingers busy with the knitting needles-content.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail flittered on by as we were held by the vibrance of the moment.  And we were happy- all of us.
Imagine that.