Notes from Jan

Life’s Give and Take

August 8, 2017

Good to be back in North Carolina with family.

It’s those lazy, hazy days  of August, when heat hangs low, skies darken and sudden showers show up to do the watering.

The rains, like much I worry about, don’t last long.

Yesterday, Chris, my sister-in-love and I, bolstered by sweet tea and memories, headed down the road to put fresh flowers on Mama and Daddy’s grave.  The arrangement was fresh, not the flowers.  They’d come from China and looked pretty good for artificial. Mama and Daddy preferred fresh from their gardens.

Whenever we come to freshen the grave site, the previous flowers have disappeared.  Other bouquets, faded by sun and rains, seem to be standing like sentinels in their assigned places  Not so for ours.  Can’t figure out whether there’s a very particular flower snatcher who prefers our arrangements or we’re just unlucky.

Yesterday was no different, except for a gaggle of geese that waddled about the graves. Since my brother Ralph’s, a hunter, I hoped none of them knew we were related.  Chris wasn’t sure about our timing.  “Maybe we should come back another day.  If they start hissing, they can come after you.”  Then added the most alarming question, “How fast can you run?”

Running’s never been my gift, unless you count running off at the mouth.

Chris, the wiser, decided to scare them off by honking the horn, unaware of a nearby funeral.  Geese are used to honking, so few looked our way.  Finally, we stepped out of the car while Chris whispered, “Leave your door open, just in case.” Armed with plastic posies and my cane, we hunted the grave, while dodging ground level geese bullets.

It took us awhile in a cemetery where grave stones are flush with the ground. Finally, we found JENSEN in raised letters on the brass plaque, empty vase atop. Geese gawked while we arranged flowers,  honoring two people we love and miss, perhaps providing something fresh for the flower filcher.

Small matters of life and death, cushioned by someone willing to tiptoe with you, dodging bullets of one kind or another throughout the give and take of life.

Someone, like Chris.



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  • Reply Richard Stout August 8, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    The real question, of course, is whether you can run faster than Chris. Here’s hoping the arrangement that you placed there to honor your parents endures as a symbol of your remembrance.

    Dick Stout

  • Reply Maggie August 8, 2017 at 6:12 pm

    Jan, I so appreciate your gift for words. Your post brings back warm memories of your wonderful mama, whom I was privileged to meet when she spoke at Congress back in the day. And another takeaway today is this: “The rains, like much I worry about, don’t last long.” I wish I could say I am a recovering worrier, but even at 64 the process of living life with bated breath (for something bad to happen, another shoe to drop) seems to be with me always. Thank you for your hungry heart and encouraging words.

  • Reply Carrie VB August 8, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    Hi Jan, where in North Carolina are you? Anywhere near Charlotte? I’d love the chance to see you!

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