All the years have not lessened the feeling of excitement in me when you give me that look. The one that says Fire it up, we’re going in.
When people asked how old he was, he would say 1009365, more or less, because he was so glad to be alive that he counted every day a birthday. He had some disagreement from his knees about the actual figures though.
I’m impressed by your creativity, I said.
What’s your secret?
She took a long drag on her cigarette and said,
Being a mom, you learn how to improvise.
about whether you
have things figured out yet.
It takes the time it takes
to find your flow.
After all those years, she was nothing like I remembered, but my heart leaped across the gap anyway without a moment’s hesitation.
Older doesn’t always mean wiser, my grandfather once said. Sometimes it just means older.
Waiting to be Kissed
Every time I looked at the picture I thought how I should have kissed her, so finally I hid it in the attic & I wonder if it’s still there with us both so young & her waiting to be kissed.
Value of a Nickel
I buried a nickel under the porch when I was 8, she said, but one day my grandma died & they sold the house & I never got to go back for it. A nickel used to mean something, I said. She nodded. It still does, she said & then she started to cry.
When my great-uncle August was in his twenties, he left Iowa & went to study cake decorating at the National Baking Institute in Chicago. He learned everything from spun sugar decorations to ice sculpture. He went to school for 2 years & when he finished, he went back to Iowa & worked in the family bakery. Except for the odd wedding cake, he never used the fancy stuff he learned. He was in charge of yeast breads & cinnamon rolls. Just after the end of WW II, the Valley Dairy Farmer’s Association had the first of the now famous Milk & Honey Festivals. August made a model of the Statue of Liberty out of 250 pounds of white cheddar cheese, surrounded by American Beauty roses of spun sugar, especially for the occasion. He showed me the page from Life magazine he kept folded up in his wallet, one summer when we visited. On it was a picture of a much younger man, smiling next to a 4 foot tall Liberty. He told me he had 6 proposals of marriage from that photo, one from the East Coast even & he smiled & I saw him grow 30 years younger & I knew in our hearts we never get old.
The most important thing you leave behind is the stuff that turns into treasures when children find it.
If you get a tight enough perm, she told me, it’s almost as good as a face lift. But she had worked around a lot of toxic chemicals in the 60’s, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt.
Time in a Box
This is a box filled with all the time in the world & most people are amazed it fits in such a small space.
Her umbrella was filled with rain she had collected in her travels & on hot summer days she would open it up for the neighborhood kids & we would splash in the puddles & then it would smell like Nairobi or Tasmania & later on we would sit on the porch & eat ice cream & watch for tigers in the bushes.
I’ve been doing these Chinese stretches that are supposed to make you live longer, he told me.
I just hope I’m not this sore the whole time.
I can imagine it working out perfectly, I said. I can’t, she said & I said no wonder you’re so stressed.
She asked my sons what strange countries they had been to & my oldest son said England & my youngest said we live in Iowa & they all agreed that was strangest of all.
(Note: The name of the state can be changed if you think yours is more strange than Iowa…)
Start here & go until you die, he said. What’s so complicated about that?
My favorite thing is saying something true, he said, but I’m a lot younger than you & don’t have to worry so much about my reputation.
It’s taken me a long time to get here, he said, so I don’t really care if it’s wrong.
Some Kind of Ride
feels like some kind of ride but it’s turning out just to be life going absolutely perfectly