Friday, August 21, 2009

Behind the Obituary

I'm a fan of obituaries. It is the first page I read every morning. At my age I'm interested in knowing who in my realm of friendship has passed on. But even those whom I don't know, I read to discover what a fine contributor to our life the person has been. Whether a man was a farmer who worked hard (a seemingly less appreciated trait), served on the town's board, loved kids, kept a garden or a woman whose life was devoted to others' welfare--these were important to their families and to our life.

When R and I started our life after college in Jackson, we met a young childless couple as we who attended our church. Within a few years children came: two boys and a girl for us, two girls and a boy for them. Ironically, our daughter J and their second daughter S were born on the same date of the same year: August 28, 1963. Although not close during school years because we had moved further north while they continued to live in Jackson, we remained friends to celebrate special dates. New Year's Eve was a gathering for over 15 years until S married and J moved west.

Life rocked on beautifully. J traveled, living in different parts of the U. S, while S and her husband settled down and had two children and a thriving business. S and J met together in January at our oldest son's wedding to find time to chat as they did as youths. Reconnection.

A few weeks ago S's life was shattered by the loss of her well-respected husband in a headline-making situation that no one could have foreseen. This couple, who gave so much of their time to helping others, gaining a wealth of friendships in their years of marriage, and having been blessed as a family, were kind, active in their small church, loving to their families. The shots that rang out that day in the front yard of this couple took two lives and injured another. S survived with wounds in her arm, cheek, and chest. A terrible forever reminder of a tragedy that should never have happened.

No obituary can say how genuinely good T was, how seriously he took his role as father and husband, how he helped his neighbors, especially those older, and did what any young man could to better his neighborhood, his community, his church. His passion was flying and at one time had been an instructor. He is one of those young men who would have made his part of the world a better place to live. And now he is now gone. His community and we friends mourn his loss.

We are left to wonder why.

Todd Randolph died three weeks before his wife's 46th birthday. May you rest in peace, Todd!

Enjoying Maine

As a landlubber who doesn't go near water any further than the swimming pool for aerobic exercise, R and I have spent ten days on the shores of salt water on the Georgetown island in Maine. Our son-in-law emphasized that what I call peninsulas are really islands in this area. If you were to stretch out the Maine coastline it would be longer than the entire Atlantic coast. These shorelines are jagged and each piece holds mystery, history, and lure for those who love to swim and boat and revel in storytelling. I've been a landlubber too long to find the excitement others do. That doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed my stay. Watching the tide go in and out, seeing stillness of the water on hour and movement the next enchants me because it's so new.

Daughter J recently married a Mainer. He doesn't speak like one, but his lifestyle is such that being around him and his family who have enjoyed summer cottage life involving swimming all day at favorite swimming holes, enjoying boating and fishing outside their cottage door and ending with big suppers nightly during their growing-up years speaks for a well-rounded individual who is sharing this same life with J.

We'll never get to explore the whole coastline of this magnificent state, but we'll discover enough to want to continue revisiting each summer.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Return To The Hills

We're ba-cccck! Back in the hills and behaving like pioneers, almost. No utilities. Using a cooler for a fridge, going to the mountain stream for water, going to sleep nights when Mother Nature turns off the lights at 8:30, and waking up 12 hours later, something we'd never do at home!

Despite the fact that we left home with searing, humid heat,we came into the mountains that has seen fewer days of sunshine this summer than ever before. Rain, rain, and more rain. The sunny days find us constantly on our new deck, another thing we can't do at home. Being cooped up in a 12' x 12' building we call a shed, but fancily we say cabin, during the constant rain isn't our idea of a vacation. But, hey, we sleep under a down comforter nights, and we don't have to pay utility bills for two or three months. There's some equalizing to all of this.

We aren't pioneers because we don't plant a garden, build our fire for cooking, use the same clothes constantly, or sit by a fire nights mending our socks. But we feel like pioneers because our way of life here in the lower Catskills is a dramatic change from our usual life in town. We love it and hate to grow too old to return.