Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

By Vickey Stamps (c) June 6, 2016 –

The old man sat at the concrete table in one of the small cities park, this one nearest the ocean.  He laid his cane on top of the table. The day was early and the dew of early morning lay upon the grass, leaving a shimmer on his worn shoes.

A small bird with a bit of red on its chest, had been awakened by the shuffling steps of the man, and watched him from the nest high among the branches that held two newborns.  He looked sad and tired, so the bird sent a few notes of comfort drifting down to his old ears.  He looked up and smiled gently, watching it fly away now, wondering if its nest was near, did it hold babies, and had it gone to find breakfast for them? Now his thoughts turned, as they often did, to life.  His father had spoken of life as being like a series of circles, and he had learned to agree as the years went by.

He had no memories of being an infant, but knew he’d been fed and diapered and put down for a nap many times.  He knew his legs had grown further and further from the ground as time moved forward and he’d become a young child.  One day his father had taken him out to the garage and shown him a rounded hoop of lightweight wood he’d made for him, explaining how his father had done the same thing for him.  There had been a paddle like thing, on the end of a short handle to go with it. 

They’d gone out to the country road and he’d shown him how to use the paddled handle to slap the inside of the up-righted hoop, and send it skipping down the road… As the days passed he spent hours running side by side with the hoop, waving at the neighbors, feeling the breeze kissing his cheeks,  loving the feel of the road beneath his feet and controlling the hoop.  It was a good time. 

He’d run till he was tired, then take a half piece of toast out of his pocket, or some other item he’d kept from breakfast.  He’d sit down and have the snack, and then head back home.  Many things took place in those years and before you could say ‘Jack Rabbit’, after you’d caught one, he’d turned into a young man, and put aside the old hoop for other things.

High school brought new adventures and he learned more of the world, the good and the bad.  He learned how to make decisions, and became no longer a boy, but a young man, on his way to college.

He remembered his mother and father, and wondered at what point his father’s back had become stooped and his mother’s clear blue eyes had faded to gray.  A tear made its way down his cheek, as he wondered if he had been a part of that happening.  Where had those years been, as he’d married and had a family, somehow the visits had decreased. 

They didn’t complain.  They had never complained.  They’d only loved him.  Now they were gone from his world and he could never tell them again how special they were.  Yes, yet another circle of life.  Hazel had passed on and the children had finished school long ago, married and gone their own ways those many years ago.  Had he made the boys a hoop and a handle with a small paddle on the end, so he could run down their own road. He’d left the girls to Hazel’s wisdom. He hoped he had, but his mind was foggy.  He couldn’t remember.

The day was moving ahead.  Soon the churches would be ringing their bells, or organs would play, as an invitation to come and worship.  By the time he managed to walk there they may have already began the service.  He’d go anyway. He wanted to hear the precious stories within the sermon.  They comforted him on his lonely days.  Perhaps his time would come soon.  He was ready.  Maybe Hazel would greet him at the gate to Heaven.  He hoped so.  All these circles of life seemed to intermingle and almost as if a puzzle, his mind had to struggle to keep in place.

He was home once more and had made himself a sandwich and with a glass of milk, shuffled his way onto the patio.  The great oak tree shaded a good part of the back yard, and he wondered if he went to sit there, if he could get up again by himself.  Perhaps he would try.  Looking up from where he sat, he caught the red chest of a bird.  Was it the same as of the morning?  It sang a few more verses and again he smiled, as it flew away. 

“POP, hey Pop, you outside? Came a voice echoing from the front door.  The children had come home to visit with him.  They’d stay a week.  What a blessing it was to have them here.  The grand-kids gathered around him and he saw how much they had grown.  He gathered into his heart all the love he felt for them, and he wondered if it showed through his eyes.  



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