Shades of the old country I have only known through literature: my living room filled with family, the encampment of the Olympians (a.k.a Sequimmers) lasted for three days. Shades drawn or opened, we rested and rallied in pleasant self-directed cycles reminding me of the “nap room” in the old house in Batavia where as tired grandchildren we slithered under light blankets, the slats of double-tiered wooden shutters unfolded and drawn closed in a startling clackity-clack to block the light of mid-afternoon.
My brother’s wife dead-headed our roses and planted petunias with her quiet attention to green; gifted me with berries
and tools so that we could make jam together; and voiced her appreciation of the good food generously and often, her smile full of light. My little brother walked in and breathed a sigh, three times expressing his pleasure in the calm and comfort of my home; ventured out with my spouse for maple bars and fresh donuts which he ate with gusto; and shared recipes as together we concocted a fresh apricot and olive chicken. Their lovely daughter entranced the dog (a mutual admiration), prepped veggies with me, and watched her dad closely as he and I walked back in time through the haunts of our earlier lives.
We sent them off this morning with a sheaf of poems, a flat of tomato plants, my husband’s landscape photograph from Egegik, and a disc of dog clips which threaten to inspire a launch of The Red Dog Blog.Their gift of peace rose blossoms in the jelly jar at the table mark an opening for continued conversations.
My brother and I share a birthday; he is exactly one year younger. Though we both have one emerging adult still at home, we are entering our sixth decade, the age of our grandparents when we knew them. I was thinking about the carriage of my maternal grandmother this week as I drafted a story whose main character was elderly. I thought of how she walked, the shoes she wore, her interactions with the public and family—and I thought of my paternal grandmother, too, whom we knew only to her mid-sixties. They both wore dresses and shoes with heels. They wore gloves and hats not necessarily against the cold. I remember their presences well. But I do not recall more than a little conversation with either of them; the first suffered from dementia and the second left us too soon. I wonder if either of them felt as young and as engaged as I feel—as we are. Has our increased longevity as a species made such a difference in only two generations?
I purchased a new bike yesterday. I am committing to more movement; I am determined to remain engaged, though slipping into the shadows for a muted view or a moment of quiet is equally valuable to me.