Monday, April 22, 2013

When Lilacs Last

It’s lilac time.  It’s spring.  Again.  There is a genial symmetry to the earth’s rotation.  I keep track of such things.

I have always loved lilacs.  Poets and florists claim they represent the “first emotions of love.”  I don’t know about that, but I do know that one cannot look at the delicate blossoms and not be cheered.

I always pick lilacs, in spite of fervent vows to refrain from temptation, and society’s prohibitions against violating private property.  They usually belong on the bushes of neighbors foolish enough to sleep past 4:00 a.m., thus exposing their shrubs to the felonious whimsy of Local Insomniacs.

Lilacs in a vase quiet the house with their scent and calm the world after the ravages of winter.  But they are only granted a two-week stay, so time cannot be squandered with personal integrity by limiting one’s acquisition of them.  Besides, universal laws of accountability are suspended during lilac time.

T. S. Eliot proclaimed April  the cruelest month.  Charles Dickins wrote, “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”  I suppose both authors bear witness that life is bi-polar. Duly noted. Mortality, it seems, is comprised for the most part of ironic juxtapositions. There is so much to celebrate, even though our burdens have not been unprotested.

Lilac time is fleeting.  Tempus fugit.  If we don’t want to lose our corridor of understanding, we must express our love mostly in short, declarative sentences that leave no doubt as to the content of our hearts.  Lilac time runs contrary to the longer, more languid growing seasons of other flowers that allow one to be vague.

Lilacs insist that we sanctify our lives.

Dennis was cured  just a year ago, as  lilacs bloomed.  I will experience the anniversary.  In my personal corridor of understanding, I have been taught things that swallow any prior knowledge.  Painful stuff happens to everyone, and sometimes we stagger and stumble under the weight of it all.  But wisdom comes through the grace of pain, healing from courage, dignity from enduring.

Lilacs instruct us to be of good cheer, to be strong and competent.  Theirs is a fragrance of hope.

Sometimes it is good to shut off the mind, allow a greater power to take over, and heal.  There is a place within to stand as witness, to change direction toward greater tranquility, stability, calm, peace.  The  soul can restore itself, and go forward.

Dennis and I were never ones to give flowers.  It seemed unnecessary. I will make an exception on Friday.  They will be lilacs.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Go, Granny, Go!

I’m resting.  I’m tired.  Stupid with fatigue.  I have exceeded my aerobic threshold.  I just hobbled to my recliner and collapsed, gasping and wheezing.  Why?  Because our first-born, extraordinarily gifted and adorable grandson spent the weekend with me…by choice!  For reasons unavailable to mortal man, Abram asked to stay with me instead of his friend, while his parents went to Las Vegas for a soccer tournament.

Whoa!  Could that really be???  He would prefer to stay with me than a comrade, a soccer teammate, a fellow pre-pubescent, a “bro” without benefit of duress or Guido the Thumbbreaker?

YESSSS!!!!!  The Baby Boomer and the Millennial – it is so counterintuitive to the generational adversarial tribal system that has evolved through the epochs since time immemorial between really old people and the majestically young.  It defies the natural order of the species. But it works!

Needless to say, I was thrilled.  I want to be more than a cameo in our grandchildren’s lives.
I hate to get all Sally Fields-ish, but he likes me.  He REALLY LIKES ME!

There is something about the first-born grandchild. When Abram was born, I sang “Happy Birthday,” while Dennis performed the circumcision.  For one brief shining moment, I was the favorite grandparent. 

When the rites of being a male were accomplished, we began to scrutinize and identify all the conspicuous characteristics and personality traits resulting from generations of genetic distillation.  Abram is so like Dennis, in temperament and demeanor.  He is quiet, confident, composed, and endearingly charming.  He stole my heart.

However, I am also a primary DNA contributor to this boy.  Abram and I are startlingly similar.  We are both fair.  He is legally blonde.  I am feloniously platinum.  We are both tall and lean…except for me.  He is without guile.  I have ample for both of us.  He has the courage of his convictions.  I am obstinate.  It’s practically the same.  With only a few inconsequential differences, we are nearly indistinguishable.

In order to transform myself into a geriatric savant of biped recreation, I embarked on a rigorous training program.  My goal was to become a cruise missile, a whirling turbine of forward thrust, turbocharged locomotion.  This endeavor sucked up an enormous amount of caloric intake.
I commenced my training regime by upping my caffeine quota.  And then I began rehearsing what I hoped to be the “mother tongue,” my apocalypsie cliches:

Boo Yeah!  In Yo Face!  Sup?

And I diligently practiced my texting shorthand:  YOLO, Luv u 2, etc.

Next, I ditched every shred of evidence of my personal CD collection – which is comprised mostly of Billy Joel, Elton John, The Beatles, James Taylor and…wait for it…Johnny Mathis! (That last one went into its own unmarked brown paper bag.)  Apparently, CD’s are not only obsolete, they’re archaic. 

I then enrolled in classes ranging from Adele 101, Basic Mumford and Sons, Fundamental “One Direction,” Beginning Beyonce, British Boy Bands for Dummies, and Remedial Taylor Swift.  I even committed some of her poetic and extremely cerebral lyrics to memory, so I could warble the words off my tongue in admirable fluency, without any trace of cognitive brain function:  “We’re never ever ever getting back together.”  (Inevitably, my rendition is over-loaded with excessive “never-evers.”  Abram smiles indulgently and says nothing, extending diplomatic courtesy like his grandpa before him.)
I used copious amounts of concealer to mitigate the ravages of time that turn the once-silky skin to that mottled pinkish hue I refer to as Gram Spam – in order to perpetuate the illusion that I’m smothered in muscle and prefer stilettoes to orthopedic smurf shoes.

For good measure, I fired up the Crossfire, put down the top, and we motored to his soccer game at a cruising speed of just under 65 m.p.h., which is slightly faster than “the little old lady from Pasadena” velocity.  (It is decidedly UN-cool to get a ticket for adolescent acceleration!)  I drove amid swirling wind that billowed my hair and swaddled my head in a halo of platinum and re-growth, revealing the sad fact that Granny has a dark side, and shattering forever more the myth that I’m a natural tow-head.

It requires astronomical energy to disavow reality.

I had a grandmother whose influence is still enormously powerful.  I adored her, and in my mind, I still flee to her home when I need refuge and sanctuary.  I want to repeat that experience for my grandchildren.  I guess it’s a patrilineal phenomenon, and assures smooth succession from one generation to the next.

Abram and I talked.  About a lot of things.  It was good.  It is essential to tell the stories of our lineage, like tribal griots, so the youth can make sense of our world and give it order.

Mortality is fragile.  Our essence is what we give the world by our presence.

When the weekend was over, and the time came for Abram to return to his home, I was understandably reluctant.  It’s mysterious how comfort arrives.  Each grandchild has a portion of Dennis.  It’s a gift.  Abram is particularly endowed. He is so like his grandfather. I try not to stare.  I rarely succeed.

As he got out of the car, he said, “Love you, Grandma.”  He always does.  I said, “Love you, too.”  He said again, “Love you, Grandma.”  I said, “Love you, Bud.”  Once more he said, “I love you, Grandma.”  I said, “I love you, Abram.” 

I stood vigil till he was safely in the house.  Then I drove home. 

I was glad it was dark.