Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Eulogy for Aunt Betsy

Delivered at the crematorium service, Banbury, Oxfordshire
28 May 2012

I can count on two hands the number of times Aunt Betsy and I met. The last time was June 2006, when Sara and I stopped by Charlbury at the end of our European travels.

I remember colors—and I remember flowers. The garden on Enstone Road was in full blossom. I remember Aunt Betsy taking great joy in pointing out every flowering and fruiting plant to me, to Sara, to Tiffany, and to Fenton—right before we nearly trampled half of the greenery in an energetic water-gun battle. And I remember Sara and Betsy pitting plums on the lawn, Betsy dressed in a pair of brightly colored patchwork pants. Do you remember those, too?

Flowers—and colors.

When I told my mother about Betsy's death, she gave a sigh of sorrow, then said, "She was my favorite of your father's relatives." She's said that before—perhaps because Betsy smiled more than many in the Tyler clan; perhaps because Betsy, like my mother, had a colorful personality.

Colors—and flowers.

In the near-sleepless hours of crossing The Pond this morning, I have wondered about colors—and flowers. We receive the most vibrant colors in this world from the most passing things: brilliant orange in the sunset, brightest green just after a rain, regal purple in an iris, softest red in a rose. The boldest rainbow comes to us through the frailest of creatures. Yet, there they are: breathtaking, lovely, desirable.

I have a deep and abiding suspicion that our Creator teaches us the most important lessons parabolically, only with the passing of seasons, only with the passing of life.

As a gardener now myself, I have learned to mourn only softly the passage of the iris, the fading of the day-lily. They will rise again when the sun next shines with a lengthening day. We will see their color again, perhaps more brilliantly for the ordeal of winter that waits between.

This I believe: the resurrection of Christ promises a new season. The bulbs of death shall burst open; the flowers of hope shall blossom; the colors of life shall spring again. They must, for that is why they were created, and the Son will shine again with a lengthening day.

~ emrys

Monday, May 21, 2012

Automotive Arthritis

I am blessed with many relationships with elderly people. I am continually amazed by their wisdom, their depth of experience, and their ability to taste joy in histories well salted with suffering. I also listen to my share of medical woes, and hear my share of complaints about the physical effects of aging.

I know that when it rains, or when the barometric pressure drops quickly enough, millions of people will feel it in their joints. Some will complain, some will take more medication, and some will just get on with the day. Most, however, will have a moment, rising from bed, when the heart is ready but the hips, knees, and ankles just won't do their job.

I have recently discovered this phenomenon occurs not just in humans, but in automobiles as well.

When it rains, our dear, dependable, 1997 Mazda often requires one or two minutes of key-turning to get its four pistons to fire up. It does not even have to rain on the car; it may be sitting in the carport. But apparently the 100% humidity in the air affects the ignition system, making response time sluggish.

Last week it rained for two days straight. And the Mazda, back-up car that it has become, sat undriven in the carport. On the third day Sara went to drive it and it would not start. Ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh-ruh, the cranking of the starter, with the occasional shudder of a few random firings--then nothing. So we let it sit.

The next day was warm and sunny. I pushed the Mazda out into the sun, opened the hood, and let it bask. Later that day, Sara started it up with no problem. I had begun to fear that its problem was progressive, and that we'd finally lost the car that has given us over 180,000 miles. But not yet.

When it rains, though, we will have to get the Mazda up from its sleep, massage the joints, and get it moving, lest we find it useless again after a rainy spell. It may be rusted, it may be well-worn with miles and adventures, and it may get a little stiff now and then. But with a little more attention, the Mazda will keep on keepin' on.

~ emrys

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Little Laundress

Today, I'm working on laundry.  G has gotten very helpful on the laundry front and loves to help load the washer and the dryer.  Helps to put the soap in the washer and haul laundry baskets that are as big as she around the house.

This afternoon, I was cleaning up the kitchen from a baking project.  I realized she had been in the bath/laundry room for a while and I wasn't sure what was up.  So I went to check it out and this is what I found and the explanation I got:

A little while later, the dryer was silent. I heard a noise in the bathroom that was the distinct "thump" of little crocs hitting the side of the washer and managed to catch this:

It was soon followed by "Mommy, I need you to come help me!".  Ok, kiddo, I'll come help you.  So I save this for family history - that there was a day, in May of 2012 when my daughter enjoyed doing laundry. And I have to say, I sure don't mind doing laundry with a little helper like this!