Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Patina



I bought a table some time back. It was big, sturdy and distressed from an earlier life. Tony questioned the price but I said it was worth it. We wouldn’t fret over each dent or mark; in fact, our wear would add to the beauty and become part of its history. I liked the idea of leaving a “fingerprint” behind. Hopefully, one day this table will pass along to someone else.

The beauty of the well-worn fascinates me.  I imagine the stories behind the marks. Who used this before us? Was it always this rich shade of golden brown? Where has it traveled? Where has it yet to go?  What road did it travel to achieve this lovely patina?

Wear and tear are unavoidable. Bumps, bruises, wrinkles, and scars, they are all part of living – a visual proof of endurance, an inevitable part of creating history and memories. That wear and tear eventually become our personal patina.

There is beauty in what is pristine and new, it’s true. I am sad when something is chipped or altered.  But the only way to preserve perfection is to curtail use. A vase tucked behind glass is safe but rarely finds itself full of flowers.

I don’t like the wrinkles that announce the passage of time. I try not to sweat those inevitable changes, though. I am learning it is better to have patina than beauty. Beauty fades. Patina endures. Patina grows richer with each passing year.

Without a little patina, there has been no life.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

An old country man


If my father were here, he’d tell you his father was an old country man. He would say with a certain pride his father came here at a very young age, unable to read or write English. He would tell you that armed with a dollar pick and shovel he built a business that continues to shape lives three generations later. He would tell you his father eloped with the girl of his dreams, rebelling against every convention of his day.

He would also tell you my grandfather lost that girl during the depression, leaving him with nine children to rear. He would tell you his father managed to keep his family together and kept his business going during trying times. That he raised four sons who served their country honorably. He would tell you his father did his best under the most difficult circumstances. “Not bad for an old country man.” He would say.

It was through these stories my father taught me about family, loyalty, work ethic and honesty. I learned about honor and humility. I learned about giving back when he shared what his father had told him, “Do good and forget.” He taught me without my word I had nothing.

My father's stories were constant in my life.

There was one story my father told frequently, saying it as he heard his father, right down to the Italian accent. It sounded like, “Nonj you know? You no go looking for me. I go looking for you.” “Do you know what that means?” my father would ask. “It means no matter what you do, I will always be your father. Nothing you do can ever change that. It means you didn’t ask to be born, I invited you here.”   

When Sam first showed signs of differences, my father told me to believe in Sam. “Things have a way of working out,” he said. “He is a beautiful boy. You wait, he will surprise you.” As he watched Sam he would add, “Don’t forget what your grandfather said: 'Nonj you know? You no go looking for me, I go looking for you.’ Sam didn't ask to be born. We invited him here.” I heard those words many times over the years. They were among his final words to me regarding Sam.

Today on what would have been my father's 90th birthday, I remember the words of my father and grandfather. Tonight I will say them to Sam, to honor my father’s memory, to keep his stories alive.  I think my father would like that. I hope Sam will find in them the security my father found and the security I was lucky enough to know all my life. 

Nonj you know?
Yes, Dad, I know. I finally know.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

A busy June weekend


It was a pretty big weekend. We broke in a new behaviorist, Sam participated in an art show and there was a wedding.

First the behaviorist: We are delighted to have the extra set of eyes and ears and hope he can help untangle the communication behind Sam’s behavior. Collecting all the data is tedious; we repeatedly run through the litany of questions. Still we know it will bring us to a better place.

We’re off to a good start. Sam has been pretty accepting of this intrusion into his life. The behaviorist is armed and ready for anything Sam throws his way. So stay tuned. 

Next, the art show: First off, it was juried. Second, Sam’s work was accepted. Third, they chose his drawing, “Colored Hearts” for the invitation. How cool is that? Sam, who avoids noisy crowds, was in his element at the opening. With a huge smile he happily posed by his artwork. He sold “Colored Hearts” and his second entry, “Two Pears” is under consideration for sale. Not bad for his second juried show in his entire lifetime.

And now about that wedding: Sam casually told me he married Vanna White on Sunday. “Huh?” I asked. “You married to Vanna White?” “Yes,” Sam confirmed definitively. “What about MaryKate? I thought you wanted to marry MaryKate.” Sam seemed unconcerned saying, “No MaryKate. Vanna White.”

The funny thing is, I was with Sam all day so I don’t know how I missed the wedding. Still, he assures me he is married to Vanna White. It must have been a very secret ceremony. As far back as I can remember he has wanted to marry MaryKate. And now he has run off and married Vanna. Well OK then. Life is full of surprises.

As Sam’s mother, I am wrestling some obvious issues: Vanna is older. She probably lives in California. I think all those letters she turns captivated Sam and stole him away from MaryKate. Many thoughts run through my mind. How will this work? Will Sam be happy? Should I clear my clothes off the guest bedroom bed? Will I get a spot on Wheel of Fortune? Is the alphabet alone enough to sustain a marriage? Maybe. Sam does love his letters.