Two weeks ago now, my brother and his family made the pilgrimage out of CO to visit. We spent a few days around town and then headed for the mountains - Grand Lake, to be specific. It was a great week with a lot of memories made. Memory. Now that's a word, eh?
I heard a Jewish rabbi last week speak on memory. He stressed the point that anger keeps memory at arms length. If I'm angry, I can't remember, and if I can't remember, then I'm not grateful; a kind of cycle that works against remembrance. Based on personal experience and some reading I've done, I firmly believe that most anger in men is really sadness. One of the poets (I cannot remember his name, but I'm really not angry about it) said "you think him cold, when he is really sad" or something very close to that.
Not much to be sad about when you're in Grand Lake, CO for the week with your family and your brother and his; therefore, not alot to be angry about; therefore, lost in the dance of memory. I remember all of us squeezing into one vehicle just before dusk and heading out to see if we could spot a moose. We didn't. But on the way back into town, somebody got carsick and did what kids do when they get carsick. I had happened to throw my ultra-cool Patagonia running top in the car before we left. It was the closest thing to my wife when our youngest got sick, so in order to save the car's interior, she grabbed my shirt. It would have been a long car-ride back to TX for my brother and co. if the interior of their car had been bathed in kidthrowup. I spent the rest of the evening running my ultra-cool running top through the washing machine. Everybody laughed about it. Even me. My brother and I laughed about it quite a bit. I'll gladly trade running a little less ultra-cool for the memory of my brother and I laughing on a porch as night crept over a grand lake and aspens quaked nearby.
Maybe when our kids are older, they'll decide to get together for the summer with their cousins. And they'll sit on a porch somewhere, maybe in the mountains. And they'll say, "Hey, do you remember uncle John's pretty-boy running shirt getting hosed that night in Grand Lake?" And my youngest will say, "Yeah, I did it!" And they'll all laugh and possibly even cry a little and say, "Man, that's a great memory. Didn't we have a good time?" And they'll all say, "Yes."
By that time, I may be in assisted living quarters or something, possibly sitting in a wheelchair out on a screened-in-porch with photographs of mountains on the wall. Maybe my mind will be all but gone. But at the exact moment when those beautiful, grown children on a porch in the mountains say, "Yes," there will be a quaking of the aspen tree planted in my heart. And memory will be stirred across the miles and the old man in the wheelchair that I may be will stand and face the western skies and cry out in a most lucid voice, "Yes. I was there. I remember too." And some silly twenty-year-old assisting nurse will walk by and say, "Mr. Blase, sit back down now. Everything's o.k." And I'll defiantly refuse and keep standing, if just for a little while. Standing for me. Standing for my brother. Standing for our wives. Standing for our children. Standing for a running shirt's early demise. Standing for the absence of anger and sadness. Standing because I remember. The little nurse will walk up to me and take my hand and say, "Your wife has had her bath. She's waiting for you back in your room." And I'll sit in the chair and she'll push me back to my room. I could have rolled myself, but I don't remember the way...