A few weeks ago Richard and I celebrated twenty eight years of marriage. I began the day in my usual fashion, out on the lanai having my quiet time with God. My husband was inside having his quiet time too, and through the open door I could feel the connection as we each experienced our own unique relationship with God. As I read my various daily reflections, the meaning of that day slowly sank in.
We had known each other for almost twenty nine years. I met Richard towards the end of July 1983, and we married on 24 March 1984. It was a bit of a scary time for me. I had been married once before for almost ten very unhappy years and it had been ten years since I had separated and consequently divorced that man. I had lived much of that previous marriage emotionally alone, and had become very independent and self-sufficient in the ensuing ten years. Oh, and did I mention that Richard is almost twenty years my junior??
I thought back to that time after Richard asked me to marry him and remembered how much praying and self-questioning I went through. I had also insisted that we speak with the priest and go through counseling, and then I went on a retreat to distance myself from the relationship for forty eight hours, just to have some clarity and see if I had any different thoughts and feelings about the situation. After doing everything I thought I should do to be sure of how I felt, we went ahead and married.
I sat there on the twenty fourth of March this year with a very full heart as I traveled back in time, and the prevailing thought was “where had all those twenty eight years gone?”. The words from a well-known Christian song came to mind: “in the blink of an eye”. As I said goodbye to Richard that morning (he had a day-long class he had to attend), I remembered our first real kiss. It had me blushing for a moment because it was a very incredible and passionate kiss and I remember thinking that I could just have floated off in that kiss all those years ago. But it was also a very tender kiss, and I think that’s what sold me on Richard from the very first – he was such a tender person. Tender-hearted as a person as well as tender towards me, and others.
If I needed any other evidence of the years we have been together, we have a twenty seven-year old daughter, Melissa, who is proof-positive that all those “blink-of-an-eye” years really existed. I remember very well appearing in a play, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, when I was about six months pregnant with her, and my eldest son, Marco, from my first marriage, break dancing day in and day out during the pregnancy. Melissa was born to the rhythm of break dance.
While Richard was in class, I got on with my day and couldn’t help but notice in great detail the contents of our home, which is something between an art gallery and a curio shop. There are paintings and photos all over the walls. The paintings come from many different places that either Richard has travelled to during his years in the Navy or that we both have travelled to together. Then there are the statues and figurines that cover every shelf and available surface throughout the house. Many people are quite taken aback when they visit our home for the first time because of all “the stuff”. But everything is a joyful representation of the years that we have been together and the memories that we have created.
When Rich came home from class, we got ready to go out and celebrate our anniversary. First we went to the El Apache restaurant to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal. With tummies pleasantly full we then headed over to the Thrasher-Horne Center for Arts to see a show. A few weeks earlier, at a silent auction fund-raiser at our church, we had won the bid on two tickets for The Peking Acrobats which were dated twenty four March. I think the only reason we bid on them was because the date was the same as our anniversary. The show was quite breathtaking and very exciting and it was a great way to celebrate the day.
However, we didn’t quite finish the celebrations at that point. Instead of heading home, Richard pointed the car in the other direction. You see, he has an absolute weakness for Shakes, a small drive up cubicle that sells shakes and sundaes made with frozen custard. And so we completed our evening enjoying our favorites: for Rich this was a strawberry milkshake, extra thick; for me it was a kiddy-cup with one small scoop of vanilla frozen custard topped with a healthy drizzle of caramel – yum. A perfect finish to a perfect evening, and here’s to number twenty nine!!
In my previous posting God’s Creation-Minnesota, I mentioned that through the trees on Greg and Sherry’s property you could barely make out two other houses – their neighbors. Connie and Joe live in the closest house, while Deb and Crystal live in the other house along with Deb’s Mom, Mary, and Deb’s younger sister Paula. Deb and Crystal live in the main part of the house while Mary and Paula share a delightful apartment on the lower level which, because the whole structure is built on a slope, is also on a ground level of its own.
We got to meet all the neighbors because on one of the evenings that we were there we participated in a “travelling dinner”. I’ll share details of that event in another posting. Here I want to talk about Paula who is somewhat mentally challenged and is quite a delightful character. She is actually forty-five years old, I believe, but looks like a teenager.
When we entered the kitchen at Deb and Crystal’s, Paula was seated at a table on the far side of the room of the room next to her Mom, Mary. Paula is not very tall, maybe not even five foot. She has rich auburn, curly hair that she wore pulled back from her face that day. Her face is very round and when she smiles her eyes crinkle up, Chinese-style, and she looks like a mischievous pixie!
Richard had stopped at the kitchen island to pick at some appetizers, while I walked around it and went over to be introduced to Paula. She did not look up at me immediately, but then Deb said, “Look at this Paula”, and pointed to my hair. At that, Paula looked up at me and her face lit up in pure delight. She clapped her hands together like a little child and exclaimed, “It’s purple, it’s purple, my favorite color!” Looking into that innocent, beaming face, I felt as though someone had given me an exquisite gift. My heart lurched and I fell in love with Paula right then and there.
She continued to smile up at me and I pointed over to Richard and said, “And that’s my husband, Richard.” Without skipping a beat, Paula looked in Richard’s direction and once again clapped her hands together. Her smile widened and, in such genuine innocence, she exclaimed, “Oh, he’s so cute!” And she chuckled. The whole room seemed to light up and people laughed, not at her, but right along with her, joining in her delight at the situation. And I fell in love all over again with Paula.
Later on in the evening, Paula brought me a piece of cake. I thanked her and kissed her cheek. A dazed look came over her and she slowly put her hand up to her cheek in wonder. As she returned into the kitchen, I heard her say to someone, “I’ll never wash my face again.” The person asked her why and she responded, “Because Margo kissed me.” I felt my throat constrict and my heart welled up with love.
There are moments that I recognize as pure God moments. I know I experienced the love of God in that sweet pixie of a person, Paula. I have often heard people question “why” about many things that happen on this earthly journey, including the “why” of people like Paula. My answer: they help us to experience a special kind of love – if we are open to it. I will remember Paula with great affection and I hope I get the opportunity to see her again.
What an amazing way to start the day; such nourishment for the soul!! This morning I was sitting in my lanai by 6.45am. It was going to be another day full of brilliant sunshine and very low humidity and I was ready for it. I love the subtle yet clear light and the silence of the early morning.
Within moments of being there it was as though someone had pushed a button. For the next 30 minutes I was treated to my own High-Def, surround sound, 3-D, wide screen live show. And through it all the sun rose higher and the light got rosier.
The Hummingbirds came out in full force. Within minutes there were at least four couples buzzing in and out and over the yard. I know they were couples because each set of two sported one ruby-throated male. It seemed as though there were bright red diamonds flashing about the garden.
The couples dived and rose together in perfect unison, twisting this way and that. Suddenly, they would come to an abrupt hovering halt, facing each other. For a few moments they hung quivering in space about six inches apart and then it seemed as though they leaned in to each other in two or three darting movements, as if exchanging quick kisses. Then off they zoomed for some more madly ecstatic flight.
Meanwhile, in the background, at the birdfeeder on the back fence, Mamma and Papa Cardinal were taking turns at having breakfast. The male, in all his glorious scarlet beauty, would eat then hop up onto the fence and stand guard while his mate had her fill. When she flew back into the tree behind the fence, he would go again to the feeder and eat some more. As she flew down again, he resumed his spot on the fence and gallantly awaited until she finished.
While all this was going on, several Titmice were playing at catch-me-if-you-can in and out of the wrought iron work of the old gazebo. I was sure they were just marking time and waiting for the Cardinals to finish feeding. And in fact, as soon as they flew off, the Titmice descended on the feeder and took their turn.
I had one more unexpected treat in store. After the Titmice had finished at the feeder and the Hummingbirds were taking a well-earned rest from their tactical maneuvers, I went inside to make some tea. As I stepped back out into the lanai I noticed a large black bird on the feeder. It was a very “glistening” black, almost like a raven. Its beak was also black.
He was about the size of a Cardinal, but sleeker, slimmer. It was definitely not as large as a crow. I began ruffling the pages of my “Birds Of North America” by Kenn Kaufman but could not find a match. Then suddenly the bird moved around on the feeder and I was looking at his profile. There on the side of his breast where the wing met his body, was a flash of vivid red underscored by a slash of white.
Once again I checked my book and I believe I found my answer. There amongst the Blackbirds was a species called the Red-winged Blackbird. It was obviously a male which still had not completely acquired his full summer plumage, hence the slash of white. Although the book indicated that these are “abundant and familiar” birds throughout Northern America, this was the first time I had seen one.
By the time my new visitor had left the feeder, everyone else had retired to the trees or moved on to greener pastures. With the exception of a couple of butterflies who went their merry way, dancing from bloom to bloom. What a wonderful gift God has given us with His creation and what a blessing to have so much of it in my small patch of the world.