Monday, December 15, 2008

Patriarch

When we pulled up in front of the house I was flooded with the memory of the last time I was there. The outside looked much the same, with the round driveway, the frozen lawn and rose bushes, the ramp leading up to the front door. Sometimes when I go places that seem so fixed in time, it reminds me how much I have changed since last being there. His house was a lot like that. I feel like I take up more space now. Intellectually. Spiritually. Physically. Emotionally.

It has been nearly five years since I've been back. He's now too old to open the door himself, but everything else is just the way I remember it. The piano covered in music. The low hanging chandelier. The wheelchair by the door.

We walked in and saw him sitting there in his recliner, the same one I saw, but it was moved now, closer to the piano, to make room for the Christmas tree. I think it was a real one. Ambitious for someone who can't even stand to get the door. He didn't look to me like he had aged, but maybe once you hit ninety, you've already hit the peak of wrinkles and hairloss and graying, so you stay suspended in a fixed age. Old age.

His mind was still as sharp as I remember. Though some of his hair had gone, no loss had occurred within. It stunned me when he knew my name, and nearly all the others, at least those who he had blessed or written or both. He seemed like an old friend. His eyelids were stretched with age, held out of his eyes by his stiff eyelashes, but receding when he laughed and crinkling at the edges. I sat next to him in a chair at his side and looked at his silhouetted profile in front of the large glass door, white with southern sun.

After I accompanied our first number, I returned to his side to listen to the second. As the words and music filled the living room, my eyes crawled all over the space, remembering.

The brown, orange and green floral couch matched the sculpted pea-green carpet, both of which held in the smell that will forever remind me of the Sacred. The equipment he used to record and transcribe sat exactly where I remember them, the large headphones and remotes gathering dust from over a year of disuse. The magnifying glass he held up to the papers he read to first learn my name was still at his side, and his hand that were folded across his chest looked just as they did when they were laid on my head years ago.

My eyes finally came to rest on him; the man who helped me understand a little more about what I'm doing here, and what needs to be done. His sage-like eyes, that have no doubt seen things of great glory, were filled with tears as the song summoned that sweet spirit that has swelled within that room many times before.

As we were buttoning our coats up to head back into the cold and carol our way back home, I took one last look around the room, taking in the sights, smells and feelings that I so strongly associate with that space. It was a special experience of love and gratitude for the service and sacrifice that one made for so many.

1 comment:

Hosander said...

It's funny, I knew who you were describing before you got to who he was or what he did.
what a good reminder.

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