Friday, May 30, 2008

of the fire



Today is the first day of the rest of my life, and my full time vocation begins once again on the farm. I slept in a little today, and when I finally did get up, I found myself very thoughtful...reflective. Yesterday was my last full day at the restaurant until mid September, we weren't terribly busy...which made the day seem to drag on. Some of my favorite customers made the trip in this week to bid me good luck in the farm marketing venture, I was really touched. I've grown to know and love some folks that I would not have encountered had I not strapped the apron on and served them. I found myself becoming especially fond of the older folks, the wise ones, the experiences they shared with me were like lessons on life that I could not have found in a book. So many older couples, holding hands, looking out for one another- steadying the walker of their mate so they could maneuver through the mismatched tables and old chairs in the dining rooms. I loved to serve them pie...one plate and two forks. And the happiest of the lot always looked to the other soul across the table and asked, "What sounds good to you dear?" And almost always, the other would answer, "Well, cherry pie is your favorite, let's try that!" I would often ask what it took to sustain such a long and loving relationship. Often the answer from the male was, "I just do what she tells me!" And then the lady would offer a laugh, answering back, "That's right mister!" Loved to see their hands on top of one another, touching, gesturing with fingers- affirmations, secret signals of devotion to one another's happiness. I will miss my old folks, these sights for sore eyes and spirit...yep.
I had the honor to meet two old gentleman yesterday, brothers-the eldest, 94, the younger one-90. Oh the stories these two could tell- brothers raised on a farm just West of Elkhart, one stayed on- farming, the other off to the great world, teaching. They reminisced about the World's Fair in Chicago-1933. The younger brother recalled taking the train up with his father, to deliver cattle and take in a bit of this great happening. I knew a bit about this particular fair because my own grandmother's father had gone and brought her back a doll...one which I still have. I learned from watching a documentary on PBS, how the entire world had become involved by building exhibits akin to their own countries, little towns or great monuments that said so much about their nations. Great exhibits were erected, and then torn down after the fair. How this old man's memory came alive in the telling of what his eyes saw...but mostly he tenderly treasured the memory of his dad's time with him. The other older brother recalled going to the same fair on a field trip from his university...his group had much more leisure time to spend. Two older gentleman, two different memories...still so active in their minds. I was so interested in what they were saying, I almost pulled up a chair, I don't know how long I stood there- enthralled in listening as they were in their telling. And then the both became silent as the younger one spoke of how their father tragically had died, years later. The older brother taking up where the younger one could no longer go in the telling...a fire had taken their dad, and their lives were never the same. They both spoke of the fire to follow...finding their own way, struggling to live beyond the tragedy. I was privileged to be there, to listen, to be allowed to share in this remembrance...to silently still, grieve with them. And just as suddenly as they had started in on their tale of The World's Fair, the time of the times- abruptly the older one changed the subject. He said, "Young lady, the key to a long and fruitful life- is to work hard, good physical labor never hurt anyone, keeps your bones strong. And remember, we all must go through the burn of living...all will be consumed at one time or another. The fire gets us all. It is up to us to go through, find our way." Whoa. I was floored. In his eyes, was that very important message just for me? I don't know. Only, I sure took away more than dirty dishes from that chance meeting.
On to the farm time now folks, more or less writing to come...depends on the day and the occurrences. Thought you all might enjoy the story there, as much as I did. Take care...

2 comments:

bam said...

dearest truest true....i come to you each day, because since the day i met you, you've been feeding me. once it was a big ol' bushel basket spilling. since, it's been story after story. poem after poem. wisdom, served up, in heaping helpings. this today is why i come. because here i am, my chair pulled up, my chin resting on my elbows, eyes glued to the screen, to the heart behind it............you served me pictures of love long lasting. of gnarly fingers entwined. and then you topped it all--homechurned vanilla, with the specks of bean wouldn't be more delicious heaped on top--with the story of the brothers, and the truth that just burned deep into my soul. i'll miss you if the fields keep you from the keys. but i know you're doing holy work. and i always seem to hear you whistling, even when we're not online. that's how it is when you meet someone who sings your song....even when it's far far away. i send love, and deepest gratitude.....your cityfriend....

Lorrie said...

I've always enjoyed listening to people older than me tell stories. I can remember that even as a kid, I'd often find myself peering over the edge of the "grown-up" table as they sat around after a meal and talked. Sometimes I would be shoo'd off and told to go play outside with the other kids. I've never lost the fascination with listening to older people share stories of times I've never known. It comes as no surprise to me that you share that same fascination.