The Love of My Life

It was springtime 42 years ago. I was single and young. I loved art and beautiful women so that Sunday I attended an open house at a charming art school.

After at least an hour, I had lost heart at finding someone unique to date. Then I saw a small set of stairs leading to the third floor of the school’s main building.

I walked up those stairs. There she was with her beautiful artwork and an even more beautiful smile. I offered to consider buying the work. She offered a card with her name and number. I still have it and we are still together.

I didn’t realize until we dated how lonely I had been. Kristine filled my heart with something undefinable I had missed. She was and is the love of my life.

Without Words

“Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.” So said the great cellist Pablo Casals.

There is nothing rational about music. It speaks to the heart, not the mind. It has brought me to tears and prompted me to get up and dance

A divine painting speaks to us without words. For me, Rembrandt or Vermeer speak to my soul in their finest work. For you it might be other masters.

These gifts from God to the artists and hence to us are, again, immaterial or spiritual. They speak to us in an international, eternal language.

Why? A Critical Question

Why do we believe we should love one another? Why do we have this as the core of our values? It doesn’t fit an evolutionary edge when a soldier leaps on a grenade to save his fellow soldiers or a fireman races into a wildly burning World Trade Center to save others. It is something that goes beyond the material. It is from my view a gift from God. It is the gift bestowed upon us to make us more human. Not biologically but deep in our souls.

When two people who are young and naive engage in what many call holy matrimony, proposing that two people, who will change dramatically, should jump in with both feet, it seems materially foolish. From my perspective it is God’s gift of the capacity to love that gets them through it. There will be conflicts, but if they can grow in love there can be a generosity of spirit that diminishes the hurtfulness of the conflicts and undergirds the stability of the marriage. Isn’t this why the married despite the obstacles can be full of hope?

Good Surprises

Our lives are full of good surprises. An unexpected, sweet phone call out of the blue from a loved one. The sight of a beautiful bird on your lawn just before you leave. A lovely sunset during which you reach your cell’s camera just in time to catch the ephemeral light on the clouds and horizon. But, the biggest surprise for me was the first time a grandchild lit up my heart.

A Little Too Dramatic

I was about 45. I had a front row center seat in a small local theater. I was watching a play about a young Jewish woman who had become a Carmelite nun.

I believe this was Arthur Giron’s play based on Edith Stein’s life. She was both a nun as I’ve noted and a writer of great depth. Ms. Stein was sainted by the Pope in the late 90s.

At this point in the play, two Nazi Storm Troopers, hob nail boots and all, marched out on stage. The two men looked as mean as rabid dogs. They arrested the nun directly above my seat. It scared the wits out of me.

Davy Crockett, a Memory

I was about nine years old. I was shaped like a basketball. I didn’t bounce as well.

It was the era of Disney’s t.v. series and movies about Davy Crockett. They were extremely popular. I sure loved the series.

I had a Davy Crockett style, coonskin cap. If I wore it I looked less like a basketball.

I was chasing a “possum” up a tree a la Davy in my vivid imagination seeking lunch. Given my unusual weight for a nine year old a branch broke and I landed on my back in proximity to my posterior diaphragm.

On landing I was completely breathless given the force of the fall. The only thing in my life more painful than that moment in the 50s was about 35 years later when I was held at gunpoint.

As Gump suggested a few years later, life is full of surprises.

The Little Guy

July 16, 2019 had been a vigorous day. We greeted our two grandsons for a day of good times and good food. They were six and almost nine.

“Almost” is relevant since my spouse, an artist, spent several hours offering poster designs for his 9th, Star Wars themed birthday party.

Star Wars dates back to 1977, the year we met, dated and married. I was “semi-conscious” during the film on one of our early dates. She loved it.

It was getting late for the grandsons that day. After dinner, before bed, it was my job in front of my spouse and his older brother to guide the younger as he read. To that point I had never seen him read and he was unable to do so.

He chose a book about an elephant’s concern over his inability to dance. Then he began to read. It was a cute book and he was doing beautifully. A tear came to my eye. This little guy I had known since infancy had taken his first step toward learning. It was an unexpected moment of pure joy. Aren’t these moments offered up by God what we live for?

Lumps and Bumps

So my dear mom, whenever considering anything hazardous I might explore, offered one of two classic phrases: Don’t break your neck or don’t poke out your eye.

Sure enough having just turned seven I tried to open a package with a small kitchen knife. The knife slipped in my little hands. It went towards my head and pokedĀ  a miniscule portion of the white of my eye. The blood curdling shriek Mom gave as she rushed to me was enough to empty the graves of a large cemetery. It may have. I was too small to find out. Fortunately, all turned out well.

At about the same age I was carrying a large toy downstairs into the basement. I slipped and landed on my thick skull. I was rushed to the nearest ER to evaluate my neck and head.

Mom breathed a sigh of relief when she was told there was no evidence of serious trauma. I did as well even at seven. Hey, it was a rough year.