Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Mother's Day

May 3, 2008 was my mother's day. My mother, Madeline Bryer LaClair turned 80. I was in Berrien Springs, Michigan attending my son's graduation. It was his mother's day, as much because I love this kid and am grateful for God's goodness to him. Jodi, DJ's girlfriend, came back from a year in Honduras and joined us there - another added blessing.
Happy Birthday Mom! Though you were not here, you share in this milestone, nonetheless, having so much influence in all our lives. In 32 years, 5 months, and 15 days, I will turn 80. I hope I will have demonstrated the goodness of your values to the next generation in such a convincing way as you have.

This Old House and the Love In It

We have an old house - 1900's vintage. It has been untouched since the 70's when Louis Barnet, a relative on my mother's side of the family who own the house prior to us, finished his set of fixins' which included among other things, a couple of grounded outlets in the kitchen. Today Dennis Bryer, a cousin from my mother's side of the family helped us wire an overhead light to the upstairs room that will become my mother's room in a little over a month. For a bonus, we wired a light to the small closet. I use "helped us" and "we" loosely.

Dennis brought everything needed in the back of his car, except the light itself, and did the work. David and I were appreciative and admiring gofers. He's good - a head that knows the process and deft hands. He makes things easy. And when something unexpected turns up, a thoughtful pause and then, "Let's try this." We were up and down the ladder, and in and out of the attic with drill, and spade bit, Romex, and tape measure. Gray and pink insulation was moved aside gently and abandoned knob and tube wiring fixtures were pried loose. Plaster and lathe gave way in the ceiling, and on the wall we were surprised by sheet rock.

And the ladder. The ladder we had been using was just tall enough to allow us to peer into attic at shoulder level. It was rickety to boot. Dennis brought us a ladder tall enough to make our gymnastic ability dispensable. He is not all practicality though. The handmade sign is a soft signature of an emotional connection we have.

A long lost cousin. We were nothing to each other in childhood. Seven years older than I, what would we have in common? Years rolled by. David and I move to Vermont. Nothing. My uncle, his father gets sick and is in the hospital with appendicitis. Some family gathers when he does not pull out quickly. I can feel something missing. Through our common connection, our Aunt Alice, I find out that it is Dennis that is missing. We hear each other's voices only. The telephone is as close as we get. Somehow I know I love him. Three months later Aunt Alice has a heart attack. Again we hear each other's voices, this time around Aunt Alice. His father has died. "Will she?" is the unasked question we both have on our minds. Someday I am sure Dennis and I will meet. He only lives a few miles away, yet the distance to his heart seems very far.

Aunt Alice tells me as much as she can about Dennis and his wife, Donna. He can do anything, I'm told. Also, they keep to themselves. There is a strength of attachment between Dennis and Alice and one day she tells me he will be at her house. I stop by after church hoping to catch them still there, but I've missed him. Aunt Alice mentions that he will be back next Saturday she thinks. "Keep him here if you can," I tell her "until I can get here - somewhere around 2pm."

Dennis tells me today that it was February 23rd that we finally met each other. I had lost track. Neither of us can explain the instantaneous bond of affection that happened right then. Perhaps better not to try. Perhaps better just to accept it and rejoice quietly that a missing piece has been found for us; faraway hearts have been brought closer, and the man and his wife that keep to themselves have opened their arms to us. This old house is better for it too.