Time

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
― Rose Kennedy

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

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(the old Methodist cemetery in “the Cove” / Cades Cove, The Great Smokey Mountains, TN/ Julie Cook / 2015)

Lying in the darkness at 3 AM, staring upward at a ceiling I know is there, I wonder if she is slightly smiling, amused by the odd twist in irony…me on the couch.

Yet not her couch.

Her couch is long gone, replaced by a minimalist camelback, plain jane, off-white couch too short even for my once 5’4.5″yet sadly now 5’3″ frame.

He has the heat cranked up to 76.
I can barely breathe.

How many times had she lain in this same spot, albeit on the different couch, her couch, asleep waiting on my return from another date.

How long ago was that…
42 years give or take…?
My thoughts race to the AC…
Do I dare get up and cut off his heat?
He’s so cold natured now you know…just like my grandmother was…

I don’t remember the floor creaking 40 years ago when I’d slip down the hall to turn the thermostat down on those sweltering summer nights…he didn’t believe in paying for air conditioning—now it’s just that he stays cold, even in the summer.

The owner of the camelback sofa is in the hospital.

Earlier he told me that he’s been here before—a situation of being alone…home alone with a wife in a hospital.
Silently he sits lost in his thoughts.
He’s always needed a keeper or perhaps prisoner of his own insecurities and paranoias.
But this time is different, this one will be coming home.

Hours later, I lay wrapped in the dark heat listening to sounds no longer familiar.
The house so recognizable, it should fit like a favorite sweater, yet it is now so vastly different…it no longer slips on effortlessly with comfort and ease…
as it and I are both victims of time.

Time has truly been unkind.

When I lived in this house, Time relished taunting all occupants.
There were days, months, weeks, years when it simply stopped, standing still.
As the house worked in tandem with Time to hold us all hostage.

One of us ran out of Time long before Time should have departed.
Later, another of our small number took it upon himself to cheat Time, rushing
the process by his own hand.
Still another decided he wanted to double Time
as I simply stepped out into my own Time.

As I find myself staring blankly at the ceiling lost in the night, days quickly shorten as Time has now grown terribly late.
Minds have slipped away as all bodies have followed suit.
Roles mysteriously reversed are hopelessly fought tooth and nail.
And I am oddly expendable yet desperately needed.

There are day’s I think I hear her sardonic “better you than me”
trailing off in the shadows…
I ponder the selfish reasoning as I know there are no quick or easy answers.
This is not how I would have written the ending to this story.
I would not be on this camelback sofa…
as there never would have been a camelback sofa.

Time never would have run out as quickly as it had
nor slowed to a crawl when it finally expired.
Lives would have remained intact
and I wouldn’t be staring at a ceiling that I can’t see,
lost in the dark, burning up on a strange camelback sofa at 3AM
in a house I no longer know.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

What does the Pink Pig and a messy refrigerator have in common?

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some devine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”

― Alfred Tennyson

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(a refrigerator is hiding under the tokens of a lifetime / Julie Cook /

I think it first started somewhere in-between childhood and adolescence.
This odd habit of adoring some blank canvas, in this case a refrigerator, with the important, and not so important, special mementoes of a life lived with some sort of purpose.
Perhaps it was actually earlier.
Perhaps it dates back to early childhood.
Maybe it started during the annual holiday trek downtown in order to visit and pay homage to Santa.

She was sporting a green velveteen dress, the one with the lacy white collar and tiny little holly leaves layered with the pretty red wool car-coat accented with the black velvet trim, dressed in the season’s holiday finest, the little girl was dressed to impress both Santa and grandparents alike.

The year was 1964 and the long awaited and deeply anticipated day of a very important yearly right of passage had finally arrived.
Jumping into the car, proudly sitting in between her father and mother in the front seat, as this was long before the time of required back seat riders, the little girl is more than ready to make the journey downtown.

Upon entering the massive and historic shopping mecca, proudly and hurriedly marching toward the escalator, the family ascends upward to that most special and anticipated appointment. Here they find a long snaking and winding line made up of fidgety children, crying babies and mothers and fathers who have sadly long lost any and all holiday cheer. Taking their place in line, they join the throng of humanity weaving in and out of the furniture and rug aisles on the tip top floor of the department store.

It’s a confessional line of sorts where the tiny penitent line up in order to confess all indiscretions in hopes of procuring the wealth of a heart’s desire.
Rather than a curtained lined booth where a man with a white collar sat waiting in the shadows, here a jolly old man, with long flowing white hair and beard, donning a red suit, sits perched upon a throne, beaming a broad cheek to cheek smile with arms wide open.

As grand as this moment was to be, this was not the true culmination of the yearly magical visit.

The crowning moment came when a hesitant young father escorted his now giddy 5 year old daughter to the waiting open door of the tiny pink car. Settling her in on the cold metal seat, a helper elf shuts the small door. Looking through the wire mesh of the tiny window, she waves the triumphant wave of sheer bliss to her parents as she prepares for a magical adventure. Slowly, yet determined, the long pink monorail train, known as the famous Rich’s Pink Pig, lurches into motion.

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Journeying out on to the roof top of the famous downtown department store, around the base of the giant anchored great tree, past the live reindeer caged in wooden stalls nibbling on hay and looking most out of place in this foreign southern locale, the Pink Pig slowly makes the entirely too short 3 1/2 minute circle along the track which had been in operation since 1953.

Following the ride and now proudly wearing the badge of honor, otherwise known as the Pink Pig sticker, which is strategically placed on the lapel of the red wool car-coat, the little girl, holding a crisp 5 dollar bill, enters Santa’s “secret shop” where helper elves assist children in the purchasing of presents for their parents.

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Finally arriving home late in the afternoon, after the long, yet wonderful magically full day, the little girl bounds from the car, proudly carrying the tiny wrapped Christmas presents, that of the typical tie and bottle of perfume, the same presents Santa’s elves had helped her pick out and wrap. She hurries to her room where she intends to hide the precious presents deep in the recesses of her closet–safe from any prying eyes.

Then lastly, in a final tribute to a very special day, with the deepest and most solemn reverence, fit only for the most regal and spiritual of occasions, the little girl gently pulls the sticker from the lapel of her red wool car-coat, which is now more fuzzy then sticky, and places the not so sticky sticker proudly on the antique mirror her grandmother had bought for her room, the mirror she never liked because it was much too girly and frufru, alongside the two previous Pink Pig stickers.

Stepping back, making certain the growing horizontal line of pig stickers was straight, a small smile of satisfaction crosses her face. Little did she know that she would eventually have almost ten stickers pasted upon that antique mirror before the importance of the special annual rite of passage had finally played out.

Little did any one realize that an annual adventure to a pink pig, with the resulting pasting of a couple of Christmastime stickers onto an old antique mirror, would begin the importance of commemorating and marking the oh so important remembrances of those magically special moments in life which began in a young girl’s heart—Which would eventually, in turn, continue to unfold onto an unsuspecting refrigerator in the life of a not so young woman . . .

I promise I’m going to clean it off of all the “clutter”, soon. . .

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.
Rose Kennedy

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