Three teen cousins were in the woods measuring boards over sawhorses then cutting swiftly with strong and subtle muscles. They were putting together a little cabin that would be a retreat from their younger sibs as well as their parents. Time passed quickly as they were focused on a goal. Learning the finer skills required to make a shelf with knobs and bookends  would come later but woodworking skills were born here.

It was a thirty acre family farm and retreat in Copley we called The Acres. Before an outdoor lunch of hamburgers cooked over a brick grill and fresh picked corn from the adjoining field, Roger stooped over a tomato plant to pick the ripest specimen. He rushed it to table a few feet away. Those burgers and hot dogs were topped with sugary and spicy homemade “cats up” stirred for hours by Roger and others with a long handled implement.  The fields of corn, green beans and fruit trees are gone but his love of gardening was born here.They Were Born Here

Although the pond was small and had a slimy bottom, a rod and reel was hopefully slung into the deeper water as sunset settled over the August day.  Even tiny blue gills gave a tug but were caught and released. There were no big fish to be caught here but a fisherman was born and he was always on the lookout for “the big one” over the next horizon.

Being in the woods, unsupervised, and left to his own devices, Roger learned lessons through trial and error, curiosity, and practice. Stewardship of the earth, the inter connectedness of all life, and the careful nurturing of plants, fish and animals was cautiously started, watched, nurtured and embedded for a lifetime here.

A brother and sister were puzzled and dismayed about the mysterious illness of their father followed by his untimely death. As a 19 year old Roger took on the unspoken responsibility of being “the man of the house” for his mother, of being the father figure for his 13 year old sister, and the husband and father to Martha and Chris. He modeled his assertive and firm certainty from our father. His constant and unwavering loyalty and duty to our mother and me lasted for years.  These characteristics we all knew began here.

I am celebrating the Roger I knew as a child, teen and young adult when we spent a lot of time near each other and Roger in a happier, healthier and productive time, who threw a baseball, ran his dog in Mud Run, planted a garden with my son, and hung his first door. My mind will hold the younger man who was open to compassion, diversity, and vulnerability. This was that Roger who could cry in empathy and laugh at his own mistakes.

Roger, wherever you are, I hold you in the Light and I hope you are picking the perfect dahlia, casting a line, and finally catching “the big one.”

Down a narrow path edged with brambles and undergrowth, the three of them eventually span out in an opening and squat next to decaying logs and moist rocks. They turn over smooth slabs of sandstone to discover green beetles scurrying to hide from the light. Time passes unattended and soon the bell rings to return to the cabin for lunch. The cousins brush off their knees and head back to the family cabin.

Cousin Kathy and Tim Cole at the Titan Missile Museum near Tucson

Cousin Kathy and Tim Cole at the Titan Missile Museum near Tucson

No matter the distance of time or geography, cousins remain part of you forever.

In the corner of a second floor bedroom, two eight year old girls communicate their motherly instincts through their porcelain faced doll babies. They dress and undress them, feed them and put them to bed and talk to them about what good children they are. They do not think about, nor fathom the possibility, that soon they will put this important part of their lives in boxes, to be moved to an attic and forgotten.

Karen and grade school friend Carolyn Boyd Heriza in Oro Valley near Tucson

Karen and grade school friend Carolyn Boyd Heriza in Oro Valley near Tucson

Best friends in grade school move on to other schools, cities, and jobs but they will always be your “best” friend in those formative years when those relationships are first defined.

Two women sit at a family dinner table looking at pictures of grandchildren and remarking on resemblances to fathers or uncles who have died. These cousins share their worries for their adult children but, at the same time, realize how lucky they are to have so few concerns and for their ability to be here with each other.

Unwilling to let time and distance dim their connections, family will always be most important.  They are easily worth the effort of being together face to face.

Dave, cousin Judy Sterling and husband Mike Eisman at the Tucson Gem Show

Dave, cousin Judy Sterling and husband Mike Eisman at the Tucson Gem Show

Teachers sit in rows  before a faculty meeting. One who has been teaching for over 30 years is relieved to sit down and not have bus duty, one is microscopically looking at the tips of her hair and wondering if it is time for a trim, and the other is telling about an amusing incident with a student and a paint brush.  They have years of teaching to go before they catch up to the experienced one who is rubbing her feet. Very soon, they will have children of their own to care for giving their teaching a more complex perspective.

Liam Graycheck, son of art teacher Jennifer and husband Andy

Liam Graycheck, son of art teacher Jennifer and husband Andy

Keep the door open to new people who will refresh you as friends.

Landon Herndon, son of science teacher Noel and Chad Herndon

Landon Herndon, son of science teacher Noel and Chad Herndon

 

 

 

 

This is an unreal world, living away from a base for over two months. It’s been a little like being a floater and not touching ground. I’m an observer but not a participant. I live in a place but I’m not connected to it in meaningful ways.

There are certainly advantages to being a “non citizen.” I don’t have to feel guilty or remotely responsible for the poorly functioning local government, or the leaky shower head or the high hotel tax. I’m just passing through and have no voice, or maybe I have just a whisper.  On the road, I feel that I don’t even function as an American. I hear the news about Crimea and try to care and be worried about the deepening Cold War. But I’m even drifting over the alarm. It’s a little like I’ve taken a “Don’t Worry. Be Happy” pill.

Isn’t that the point of this “getting away?” Isn’t relaxing supposed to be like this? Am I supposed to feel, as a retired snowbird, that my civic and community concerns are behind me? I wonder if my major concerns are now about having fun, boosting the local economy, planning my daily schedule, making sure I am eating right (forget beignets?), getting some exercise and staying in touch with my friends and family.  I just counted. I’ve read 18 books since we blew out of Cleveland. It seems like a lot of time has been spent with my nose in a book.

Bead Show in Tucson or......

Bead Show in Tucson or……

At the same time, I know how fortunate I am. My questioning my purpose sounds like bitchiness. Most people would love to be in my shoes. Heck, most of the time I love to be in my shoes. I get to sleep in, avoid those nasty dentist appointments, put off the mending, leave the stubborn spot on the floor to the people hired to clean after we leave, and enjoy all the local sights and restaurants in a very leisurely way. I get to familiarize myself with a region as a person might who is thinking about moving here.  It’s a good life.

bead fence in New Orleans

bead fence in New Orleans

I get nowhere when I get into this circular thinking mode. Pretty soon it all exhausts me and my mind drifts to other things.

Is that eggs and bacon Dave is cooking for breakfast?