What’s in a name?

Our children’s names for us, as parents, come naturally: Mom and Dad, with the occasional variance. They’re not necessarily original but there are only so many people on the earth who can call us by those names. So, in spite of their ordinariness, they become unique and special.

The Mister had another name for his mother. It was “Dux.”   Everyone, including her children, called her “Dux.” It was an all-inclusive, affectionate and honored name.   A neighbor chastised him one time, telling him that there was only one person in the whole world whom he could call “Mom” and that he was abusing that privilege by using her nickname. That went nowhere fast. She was first, last, and always, “Dux.”

When grandchildren arrive, we suggest names for them to call us. Ones that are happy, comfortable, and seem to fit our new roles.

I’ve asked around and find that we also tend to choose names that are easy for the grandchildren to pronounce, or perhaps have special familial meanings. “Go,” “Ali,”               “Clau-Clau,” “MeeMaw,” “LaLa,” “Nana,” and “Birdsey” are just a few recent examples.

I love all of those. I know those grandmothers and those names are wonderful, individual and affectionate. They fit the personalities.

But my favorite comes from a woman I don’t know but sure wish I did. She married a man who came equipped with children and grandchildren and of course, one of the big questions was: “What shall the grandchildren call me?”

My understanding was that it took her about 30 seconds to come up with the best grandmother name ever: “Miss America.”

Think about it.

“Miss America is picking me up from school today.”

“Miss America and my Granddaddy are coming for dinner tonight.

“I’m going shopping with Miss America this afternoon.”

How much fun is that?  For everybody.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Note to my own grandchildren: “Change is good. It’s never too late. Love, Mimi.”

 

 

 

We live in a zoo.

The zoo’s residents simply moved in with us. We didn’t invite them. They’re here 24/7. They follow us wherever we go. Into the living room, the den, our bedrooms. They join us for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Uninvited, though they may be.

They climb into our cars with us. They demand to be fed, heard, obeyed. Their voices penetrate our tender eardrums.

Their roaring and braying is incessant. We try to tune them out. Turn them off.   We simply can’t get away from them.  They even call our cell phones.

Who knew elephants and donkeys could be so smart?  And so annoying.

I think they’ll go into hibernation in a few days but sometimes I wonder. Will they go peacefully and quietly back to their enclosures?   Or will they continue to fuss and quarrel?

Will their keepers try to tame them or just let them roam at random? As they have for the past two years?

We just don’t know yet, do we?

Three Little Words

Sometimes it doesn’t take more than three little words to convey an important message.  “I love you” always hits home.  “It’s a girl (or boy)” packs a mighty wallop.

I have a new three-letter-word message.  Probably not intended as that but I’m adopting it as such anyway.

At this point in life, we’ve all had stuff come our way.   Stuff that we could have done nicely without.  It becomes part of our lives but not necessarily a welcome part. We deal with it but it’s always there.  In the background.  Making humming noises to be sure we don’t forget it.

At some point, our personal issues lose value as conversation pieces.  Friends and family give us those blank looks.  As if to say: “Not again, please. We’ve heard enough.” They’ve already responded generously and appropriately to the “crisis du moment” and don’t feel an urge to do it again.  Everybody’s got stuff and time moves on.

It’s not that we forget our friends.  Or that we’re forgotten by them.  It’s that other, newer, more urgent things get in the way, demanding attention.

Enter my new three-little-word message: “ Just checking in.” Those words, and only those words, came in an email from a friend I don’t see often but who knows things have, in recent weeks, been a little rough around the edges for our whole family.

She wasn’t offering to do anything grand for us.  (We didn’t need that.)

She wasn’t asking me to detail our current issues.  (That would have been too-much- information.)

She was “just checking in.”  No response necessary.  No action on my part required.  But, she opened the door.  Just in case.

It struck me as such a simple way for her to tell me that we were present in her mind and heart and she took that moment to let me know.

It packed a real wallop for me, and I hope I remember to “just check in” with friends in the future.  Not to intrude but to open the door if someone wants to walk in.

P.S.  No one needs to tell me that “checking in” is a lot better than “checking out.”  That would be sassy.  And we can’t have that.

Foul and Damaging Weather

We had our share of both with Hurricane Matthew. 

In looking at the damage afterwards, we were pretty sure we saw indicators of tornadic activity.  The marked and definitive paths of destruction.  Trees twisted from their roots.  One house leveled; the next one untouched.  We’ve seen tornado behavior and felt certain that more than one had touched down during the hurricane.

Living through Matthew brought back memories from an event over 40 years ago.  As a result, the following came to mind:

The sky was black.   At  4:10 PM.  On April 3, 1974.   In Dayton, Ohio.

We knew why.  We were used to tornado warnings and watches.  We weren’t a full-fledged, designated, tornado-alley but we were close enough.

The weather forecasters always got carried away with themselves and, almost always, overreacted.   So we, naturally, under-reacted.  We became cavalier about the whole thing.  So very “here-we-go again.”  Sure, we  listened to the weather stations and stayed alert for the tell-tale “freight-train sounds.”   But we never gathered  supplies, batteries, blankets, children or anything else because the worst had never come to pass.

On that day, April 3rd, in 1974,  as the tornado sirens were wailing, we were outside, watching the wind direction, looking for unusual cloud formations and fallen tree limbs, but we weren’t scared.  It really was business as usual.

Later, when it seemed everything had blown over, we  went back inside, did our normal every-day things, and went to bed.

What we didn’t know until the early morning was that a small town just slightly east of us had suffered the brunt of an F -5 Tornado.  It touched down at 4:40 pm and destroyed much of the town.  34 people were killed; 1500 injured.   Massive, massive attack by Mother Nature.

Those are the facts.  Readily available on Google.  “The Xenia Tornado.”    All the reports say it better than I could.

But I’m the only one who can say what follows.   And I’m not proud of it.

Among the things our family did that night was pack our bags.  In readiness for our annual trip to the Low Country.  We were excited, always ready to get our feet in the sand and the sea.

We’d be on the road the next morning by 7:00 am.  Just as we always were.

We got up early.  Made last minute checks for the trip.   The phone rang about 6:00 am.

It was a Red Cross volunteer.  And through her I quickly learned of the devastation and disaster that had struck, so close to home.  She asked if I could/would join the others who were gathering to go to Xenia and help those whose homes, families, businesses, and lives had been totally destroyed.

Now, here’s the bad part.  The part I’m ashamed of.

I quickly told her that our family was on its way to Hilton Head Island for our annual vacation and that I would be unable to help.

And I hung up the phone.

Those words, my thoughtless words, haunt me to this very day.

Enisled.

Prounounced:  en-isle-ed.

If you’re a crossword puzzle person, you probably know that word.  If not, here’s the definition:

“To make into an island; to set apart from others; to isolate.”

Yep…that was us all right.  Hurricane Matthew “enisled” us.

We made the decision on Friday morning.  Took a straw vote with our neighbors and, in hurricane-speak, decided to ”ride it out.”  We knew we wouldn’t be flooded…at least by the river.  The bluff’s too high and there’s too much space between it and us.  All the other elements were variable and subject to change.

But, at least, the go/no-go conversation was over.  We collectively decided to go against the mandated evacuation order and sit tight.

At some point during our final preparations on Friday, we came across a long-lost, little blue battery-driven radio.  We pulled it out and loaded it up “just in case.”  We also, “just in case,” prepared a safe zone, in a deep closet under the stairs which we were pretty sure could withstand just about anything.  Put some wine in there, a few comfy pillows, took silly pictures and assumed we wouldn’t need it.  Also hung up a sign in the safe room with my old school motto.  It reads:  “Function in Disaster; Finish in Style.”

On Friday afternoon, it looked like there would be high winds but nothing we hadn’t seen before.  So we congratulated ourselves.  We would be safe here on the May. Enjoyed our wine, had pleasant dinners.  Watched a bit of the political mess on Friday evening and went to sleep.

At 11:30 pm Matthew arrived in earnest.  By  1:30 am we’d retreated to our safe zone, huddled with the radios and seriously starting to question our decision.  We were in text mode with the next-door neighbors.  None of us voiced our fear but it was palpable.  The information coming to us was not encouraging.

Around 2:30 am the power went out.  And all we had was noise and darkness.  Loud, unrelenting, banging, howling noises.  Except for the rain, pounding on the tin chimney flashings, we didn’t know what the noises were. Thunder?  Trees falling on the house?   Shutters being torn off?  Docks being ripped away?  Windows exploding?  Transformers blowing?  Who knew?  We didn’t.

Our trusty NOAA radio, guaranteed to withstand all inclement weather, went out. So-long storm updates.

Then cell service died.  Bye-bye neighbors.

The little blue radio was our last hope.  And then, even IT quit.

Four, seemingly endless, hours of fear and blackness.  Not knowing.

But then the dawn came and we realized this old house and our neighbor’s house were standing; the docks were still attached; even our little boat was at the ready.  Big trees were down and Mother Nature had vigorously pruned many limbs and much of the Spanish Moss but we were okay.

For almost three days, we had no power.  No cell service.  Electrical lines were down.  And  live. No newspapers, obviously.  There were food issues, or more appropriately put, issues of no food.  We were trapped by large downed trees.  There was no contact with the outside world.  We were isolated, set apart, enisled.

(Personal confession of naiveté and ignorance here:  I don’t know exactly where my brain was but those obvious consequences of “riding it out” weren’t part of my plan.)

Of this writing, of course, things have changed.  For the better.

All around us, residents have returned and the stories are just beginning.  Many are hard to hear and read about.

Our son’s house is by-and-large destroyed.  They have their hands full.

My cousin’s son, Hayes, refers to this time as the “Aftermatthew.”  The tough time.   For so many people.

Upon reflection, I think we’d make the same decision.  But I’m not absolutely, completely, totally, sure about that.

 

A brief caveat:  This is a birds-eye view of the storm.  It’s not intended to be comprehensive or reflective of the many efforts, by so many people, to restore our communities.

Writing for Money

Recently, a friend sent me a notice regarding a writing contest that stood to make me $100.00 richer if I won.  It was nice of her to think of me so I decided I’d submit an essay.  One that had animals in it.  I’m told that you always get extra points for children and animals.

Then I looked at the requirements.  The fine print.

First, I discovered that I had to send in $10.00 with my essay.  Suddenly, this had all the earmarks of a money-maker for the contest people.  And, most likely, not for me.

Secondly, the essay had to start with the words: “The sky went black….”

Well, that was the real kicker.  I haven’t seen the sky go black in longer than I can remember.  I’m assuming that happens somewhere around ten o’clock or so but, being an early-to-bed person, I can’t say for sure.

Sure, I wake up at four am and it’s dark outside but nothing happened, at least to me, during that period. When the sky went black.  Certainly not anything worth writing about.

So my essay would look something like this:

                   “The sky went black.  Just like it does every night.”

Somehow, and correct me if I’m wrong, I didn’t think that was going to get me $100.00 and it seemed a little silly to send in something that cost me a dollar per word.

And four of those words were theirs to start with.

“In Praise of Profanity”

That’s the title of a new book by Michael Adams.

According to the publisher, The Oxford Press, the book is a “provocative and unapologetic defense of profanity in modern society.”

Personal admission right up front:  I can swear like a sailor.

So his words are music to my ears.

Since moving to the gentle state of South Carolina, I have curbed my language, softened it. But that doesn’t mean that something untoward doesn’t slip out occasionally.  Sometimes it happens under the influence of a glass of wine or two. And when it happens, it feels good, comfortable, passionate.  The word, or words, just come out for all to hear.  And, I normally regret it later.

But now, according to the author of this new book, it’s all okay.

Maybe even better than okay.

It seems a little profanity can create an emotional release, even spur a strong relationship.  Can create trust among friends.

The author also tells us that, when used correctly, profanity is “expressively complicated.”

Let me be clear.  I am wildly against gratuitous profanity.  Comedians who think that pounding four letter words into their routines makes everything better, stronger, funnier. Characters in movies whose every-other-word is profane.  Not my cup of tea.

I was, and I hate to admit this, the mother who didn’t censor her language.  Interestingly, none of my children even think about cursing, swearing.  No, they leave that to me.   And, typically, out of respect for them and their families, I behave myself.  But there are those times……..

So, fair warning:  If I fall and snap an ankle, spill red wine on a friend’s white sofa, find myself plunging to earth in an airplane, there will be profanity.  It’s my way of telling you that I take those things VERY seriously.

And everyone around me will know exactly how I feel.

Clearly.  Passionately.  Honestly.

 

On Buying Jeans

Apparently the new criteria for buying jeans is: “Can you sit in them?”

I discovered that when I went on a mission to buy a pair of jeans that were “in.”  This by definition means that they aren’t baggy, have very skinny legs, have no give in the fabric.  Aren’t, in other words, comfy.

The adorable sales-person, (underage in my opinion but child labor’s a whole different subject), clearly had concerns about the jeans I was wearing.  My favorite ones, to be precise.

To say that I was shamed into trying on things that I shouldn’t have might suggest that I was persuaded by her youth, her chic-ness, and by the look on her face as she gave me the once-over.  Indeed, I felt pitiful and desperate.  I was, in other words, a sales-person’s dream.

She put me in a dressing room with more mirrors than I needed, then abandoned me so I was forced to walk out into the world…or at least into the store…in jeans that even I knew were wrong.   But by then I was starved for her opinion and, especially, her approval.  She kept saying they were still too baggy. Clearly, no better than what I had on when I walked in.

Now, at this point in my life, I know myself well enough that if I don’t already have something quite like it in my closet, I shouldn’t buy it.  I won’t wear it. But this shopping trip was intended to be a new experience.  To get with it.  To embrace change.

So, we tried and we tried some more.  We pulled and we zipped.  We assessed and we evaluated.  She had to be so tired of me.  I was tired of me, too.

Finally, we found a pair that we agreed had some “with-it-ness.”   That’s when she asked the all-important  “Can you sit in them?” question.  So I sat in them.

And I bought them.

What I neglected to tell her, because I didn’t want to upset her, was that I couldn’t breathe in them.

Apparently, that’s not a criteria.

I should have known.

 

 

 

jeans image courtesy of polyvore.com

Thrift Shops

We, as most communities, have a plethora of second-hand thrift shops.

I think it’s great that we donate our no-longer-needed items to those shops, let them be re-sold at prices accessible and affordable to others and, in turn, share their profits with the community.

I just have one little problem with that process.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does a vacant spot on a shelf or an orphaned clothes-hanger.

When I donate something, I, quite naturally, create an empty space, a vacuum.  I now feel an obligation to fill that space with something.  Anything.  Mother Nature’s urge is strong.

We all know that the thrift shops have become quite cunning and marketing-savvy.  Artful display is now part and parcel of the deal.  So since one is already there, dropping things off, one must take a quick look around.  Right?

Oh, just look at that beautifully displayed, only slightly cracked and chipped, turkey platter.  No matter that one doesn’t cook large turkeys any more; one is smitten by the potential.  In the shopping cart it goes.

Those fat little $6.00 pink pearls elegantly wrapped around a mannequin’s neck?  So reminiscent of one’s grandmother’s necklaces.  One can almost smell the talcum powder.  Can’t leave those behind.

That gently used jigsaw puzzle for a mere 75 cents.  One knows that there will be missing pieces but one must have it for those deliciously cold days when the family gathers cozily around the fireplace.  Once every decade or so.

And so it goes.  Carry in.  Carry out.  Give and take.

It’s, ultimately, all very fung-shui.

And that’s, ultimately, very good.

 

Crossings

I said earlier that I would not write a cancer blog.

That’s a commitment I’m keeping.

I am well….and will continue to be well.  So, let’s just get that out of the way right now.

But.  Along the way there were a couple of bumps.

And, I think that this is such a terrific tale of caring, generosity, intelligence and outcome that I am compelled to tell you about it.  It’s a little bit about me but more about others.

So please imagine:

One has been given great news following one’s surgery but then one gets a bunch of weird, crappy news from the (first) oncologist one sees.  One doesn’t know quite how to assimilate that.  So, what does one do?

Well, one immediately calls the person who owned one’s house before one moved into it, who now lives in California, who was, and still is, a respected radiological oncologist.  She will now be known as the (second) oncologist.

That (second) oncologist says she will call a friend, the (third) oncologist, who lives in one’s town, to tell that (third) oncologist that her friend, and the person who now lives in her old house, is in a pickle.

Now, at that moment the (third) oncologist is driving to the mountains of North Carolina, in the middle of a fierce hail storm. Multi-tasking, he is tele-conferenced into a “tumor board” meeting where a case is being discussed.  There are no names.  Just factual discussion.  The (third) oncologist has a very different opinion on the case from the presenting oncologist and calls in to the meeting to offer his dissenting opinion.

Moments later, the (third) oncologist, (the one who’s on his way to North Carolina), gets a phone call from the California (second) oncologist expressing her concerns about the decision made regarding her friend by the (first) oncologist.  (Are you still with me?)

The (third) oncologist, who is trying like crazy to avoid driving off the edge of the road in the midst of a major storm, listens to the (second) oncologist and says:  “Unbelievably, I think the tumor board meeting I’ve been monitoring has just been discussing this person.  I think the (first) oncologist who saw her and, who apparently, was presenting her stuff is dead wrong. Who in the world is this person anyway?  And why is everyone talking about her?”

Well, if you were able to follow that, you’ve figured out that unidentified person was yours truly.

And perhaps you can feel a little of our roller-coaster ride.  We were holding on tight.  The highs and the lows were pretty extreme.

Three days later, I met with the local (third) oncologist, whose office and staff can only be described, understatedly, as remarkable.

And it has come to pass that all is well.  Decisions. Thoughtful, caring, intelligent and healthy decisions were made as a result of that chaotic and unscheduled set of crossings.

I believe, firmly, that none of those meetings, conversations, storms, time-differences, phone-calls were coincidental.  I believe that they were purposeful, intended, and God-given.

I am in awe of the synchronicity of all that.

The world is so small.  So vast.  And, sometimes, so good.

We’re so excited!

To paraphrase (slightly) the Pointer Sisters:  “We’re so excited!”

There might be some of you out there, you big city people, you New Yorkers, Chicagoans, Parisiennes, and so forth, who might think that we live in a sleepy, little southern town where absolutely nothing happens.

You, my friends, would be wrong.  All kinds of wonderful things happen here.

I want you to take another look at that picture of our street sign and tell me that’s not exciting!

We have been living on a street with no sign for three years.  No visible means of where-ness.

Giving people directions to our house has been a series of: “Look for Y street, don’t turn there.  Continue on to X street but don’t turn there either.  Go two more blocks to the- street-with-no-sign, turn into a parking lot and go through an unmarked gate.  Turn left and then call us because you are, most likely, seriously lost.”

Water Street is an “unclaimed” street.  At least our little section of it is.  Unclaimed by the United States of America, the grand state of South Carolina, the booming county of Beaufort and yes, even by our dear little town of Bluffton.

Until now!

The Mister has been pushing for a street sign all these years and, at long last, we received a letter from our mayor, just a few short days ago, saying:  “You spoke and we listened.”

Marvelously, we’re now official.  We exist.  We’re not just someone’s “state of mind.”

We watched, ever so closely, as a hole was being dug where a street sign might be placed but we dared not hope.  Then boom!  Just like that.  There it was.  Our own identify, our own reality.  Yes, where we live seems mythical some days but it’s good to be grounded.  Known.  Accepted.

On the map.  So to speak.

Well, it probably won’t get that far but now we know where we live.  Our street sign tells us so.

 

 

Russell’s chair. Redux

(Please click on the picture for a full image)

My father’s old chair has been re-upholstered. Again. Or put more more accurately, the upholstery has been re-designed. By none other than our very own in-house designer.

Once again, he’s has had his way with it. He’s made his mark on it and we see no reason to change it.

First, to re-do it would cost a fair amount of money. We know that from experience.

Second, he’d just alter it to his specifications. Again. No question about that. We’ve seen it happen too many times.

Third, it has a sort of special something, a “je ne sais quoi,” if you will. No other chair has that. He has singled this one out.

Lastly, we believe it’s a finished product. The art-fulness of it is finally to his satisfaction.

I know how artists work. They fiddle with something until they have it just the way they want it. It’s like that with the chair.

It’s taken him about a year to get it where he wants it and he seems pleased, content.

If visitors care to comment, we explain. Otherwise, we assume they think that we’ve either turned a blind eye to the damage or can’t afford to fix it. For all we know, they regard it as a tacky example of shabby-chic.  In any case, it’s fine with us.

We’re certainly not about to de-claw the designer at this point. That would be cruel and unusual.

And so his work continues undisturbed.

If not totally appreciated.

 

 

 

Oopsies

Oopsies happen.

So do bumps in the road, and other things you don’t plan, schedule or necessarily want.    Breast cancer falls in that category.

I’ve been writing this little “blog”  –mostly about nothings — for over two years.  Everything I’ve said, written, thought about, considered, reflected on, has been from my heart, my soul and my reality.

So, I would be denying that reality if I didn’t tell you that last week I had surgery for breast cancer.

ALERT: Life on the May is NOT going to be a cancer blog.   Not now.  Not ever.

What I have is manageable, treatable, and, according to several very smart docs and a bunch of tests, totally curable.  So there’s no reason to make Life on the May about cancer.  It is, however, clearly, a part of me now.  A new lens, if you will.

Many of you already know about this and know that round one of the process was incredibly easy.  I have no complaints.

Surgery was easy, nurses were great, drugs were even better.

Just before I was to be wheeled, rather whirringly I thought, into the operating room, my doc came in to say hello and to tell me that I was, indeed in good hands and would be just fine.

I had been given a shot of happy juice and as I watched him walk out the door, all I could think was…(and this is terrible)…”He has such a nice tush; I sure hope his hands are equally as good.”

I haven’t seen him from behind since then but experience tells me his hands were terrific.

And that, as they say, is that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Books and Reading

(Please click on the picture for a full image)

I admit it. I read too much.   I give myself permission because I think I’m old enough to be my own boss but the truth is I’ve always read too much.

Nancy Drew was my first best friend. She became my  alter-ego in all things mysterious and adventurous. Later, Agatha Christie and her master crime solver, Hercule Poirot, was there for me.  Louise Penney, with her tales of  Three Pines, a ficticious and charming little Canadian village full of good and not-so-good people, is my new idol.

It’s fun to follow a sleuth, get to know his or her manner of solving murders.  They become friends.  People you know you can trust to uncover the truth.  Good will always trump evil as long as they’re in charge.

Autobiographies usually hold my attention.  I marvel at the hurdles and  obstacles that people have conquered. Where did they find the strength, the tenacity, in the face of such strife and disadvantage?   I wonder, could I possibly have done that?

On the other hand, I’ve met my share of books that I don’t like and I’ve now given myself permission to simply stop reading them.

Recently, a friend sent me an article entitled: “Nerd alert: Reading is good for your health.”

It’s my new mantra.  The authors tell me that “fiction actually may be more powerful than self-help books.”   Yeah!  I just got a hall-pass to venture happily into other worlds, visit new places, meet new people, understand different relationships.

The authors say that “spending quality time with these characters is more than escapism. Reading these books may actually enhance my emotional intelligence.”  Who knew?

These researchers also tell me I might even be able to develop special neural networks that allow me to understand complex thought. Wowsers!

I’m pretty excited about all of this. Furthermore, I am now guilt-free as I curl up with a good book….and a cat, of course. Thank you for sharing this, Nancy.

And, FYI, here is the link to that article in case there’s anyone else out there who might enjoy it: “Nerd alert”.

So, enjoy your books and your reading, no matter your choice.

But feel free to quit, for goodness sakes, if you’re not having fun.  There’s always a new book ready to be enjoyed.

 

 

 

The Overheard Remark

Do you sometimes see and hear little insignificant things and wonder about them? Perhaps when you’re sitting, waiting for a meeting or an appointment, standing in line or taking a walk?

I do. I especially remember two little scenarios. There’s nothing dramatic or exciting about either one. I’ve just always wondered about them

Years ago we were in a bookstore early on a Sunday morning. The store was virtually empty. A young father and his precious red-headed daughter (she was probably four) were leaving the store. She had a new picture book….a big one. She was swinging it back and forth. Exuberantly. I remember his words to her. Exactly.

He said: “Harriet, is that any way to carry your new book?”  

That was all I saw and all I heard.

But I wondered. Was he chastising her? Worried she was going to drop the book and tear the pages? Did he want to teach her respect for books? Was he divorced? Was this his weekend with her?

Or maybe he told her mother just to sleep in. Perhaps they had a new baby and he wanted to do something just for Harriet. I’ll never know but that little moment in time is frozen in my memory.

Another snippet took place in an airport. I was going out to the gate to pick up my husband. Two men were coming towards me, one obviously a good bit older than the other. I could tell immediately that the older gentleman was either French or Italian. His jaunty beret gave him away!

The younger man had his arm, lovingly, around the other’s shoulder and I heard these words: “Poppa, first time on an airplane, you should have taken two.”

They were talking pills, obviously. Had his dad been airsick, was he scared, had he flown from Europe alone and obviously for the first time? Had it been years since they had seen each other; did the son go to visit his father often; did he want his father to see how he lived in the U.S. and perhaps meet his family for the first time?

Silly, I know, but those two little scenes are frozen in my memory.

So, you say, perhaps I should thaw out my brain and make room for some more up to date stuff. Nothing doing. I’ll never know what those “overheard remarks” meant or what came after, but I love those little moments in time and wouldn’t trade them for anything.