Red, Gold, and Brown

 

I awoke troubled this Sunday morning…not unusual for any morning.  Nothing earth-shattering…maybe our biannual changing of the clocks or the impending trip to my polling station on Tuesday…or the possible outcomes I will find out about later in the night.  I just don’t know where we are headed.  The time may not be the only thing falling back with the season.

Still, I had a beautiful morning walk.  Well, it ended beautifully.  It began cool and crisp.  Fall is finally here…or early winter, it was thirty-nine as I set out.  There were trees with leaves of gold and red.  Leaves carpeted the narrow road I walked, silencing my footfalls but not my thoughts.

I was still troubled and tried to bury myself in the music coming from my earbuds until the earbuds died.  An irritating voice informed me of “low power.”  Need to recharge them more often…me or the earbuds?  There was nothing to drown out my thoughts, so I was forced to deal with them.

I worked on my latest book…in my head.  An action romance, I’m struggling with an ending…no I’m just struggling.  I worked on how my sterling hero could ride in and save the day.  I came up with a plot twist…maybe.  If I don’t go on and write it down  I’ll soon forget it.

Finally, I had nothing to do but look around at my surroundings.

Glancing down I did a hop, skip and a jump, scuttling sideways to avoid the snake.  “Little guy, what are you doing here?”, a corn snake, all red, gold and brown.  With our screwy weather, he hadn’t realized he should be hibernating and was attempting to raise his body temperature on the side of the tar and gravel road.

So cold!  I thought he was dead until I touched him with the toe of my shoe.  He moved…not much but he moved.  What to do?  If I leave him here, he is likely to get run over.  Oh goodness, I’m going to have to pick him up…I hate touching snakes even though I know they are not cold and slimy as I thought as a child…well, this one was pretty cold.

I saw a moss-covered flat rock and a patch of grass bathed in sunlight.  The brown blades of grass glowed gold, the mica in the rock flashed like diamonds.  Unfortunately, they were in different places.   The rock would soon be shaded as the sun rose.

“Stay here little guy, I’ll get you to a sunny spot.”  I needn’t have worried.  He was still too cold to move.  Picking up the rock I moved it to the sun and then carefully moved “Corny” to a perch on top of it before bidding him a fond adieu.

The lake was as calm, not a ripple.  Fog rose three or four feet before disappearing into the air.  Fish rolled in the shadows and the trees were reflected in the water.  There were more reds and golds and a single purple wildflower.  I paused to bask in the golden sunlight finally appearing from the southeast.  I don’t believe I could have summoned a nicer morning with a Vodun spell.

I had to get back home to clean up and dress for church but not before I checked on “Corny.”  He was gone, and I was glad…he must have taken my troubling thoughts with him.

Don Miller’s author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image came from http://www.outdooralabama.com

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“As Time Goes By….”

 

My friend, the piano player, is not long for the world.  As I sat with him, giving his wife a needed break to run errands, I felt guilty.  A good portion of my being is praying he goes soon and I’m remorseful for the thought.  I am sorrowful because I doubt his end will come soon…I doubt it will be an easy passing.

His body, a body used to eighty plus years of hard work, refuses to give up despite a mind ready to move on to the great unknown.  Charlie has lung cancer and despite the oxygen he receives is struggling to breathe …and yet he continues to breathe, gasping to hold on, gasping to make me laugh.

In an earlier blog, I wrote he reminded me of Hoagie Carmichael, sitting in front of an upright piano, banging out a tune in Bogart’s and Bacall’s “To Have or Have Not.”  Smiling, cracking wise with an unfiltered coffin nail stuck to his lower lip, his mouth twisted into a sly grin. This morning I’m reminded of another piano player, Dooley Wilson as Sam in “Casablanca.”  I’m reminded of the love song he sang, “As Time Goes By”, but only because Charlie’s time is passing slowly as he awaits the kiss of death. “A kiss is but a kiss….”

A master carpenter when not banging away at the piano, Charlie told me he kept looking at the ceiling above his bed, seeing the imperfections and thinking how bad the builders were…laughing he admitted to being one of those builders.  “We really could have done a better job.”  I could see no imperfections.

“Why don’t we go sit on the porch.  We can roll you out there.  A little sunlight might do you good.”

He agreed, and I helped him into the wheelchair before realizing the portable oxygen bottle was in his wife’s car.  Sometimes it is not the blind leading the blind, it’s the blind leading the stupid.

We talked about death and what it means.  My thoughts on death have always been personal and I’ve kept them private.  Speaking to someone so close to death about death is uncomfortable and disconcerting.  Still…I opened my own soul.  I’ve always believed “energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only changed” which is the basis for my spiritual beliefs, but you shouldn’t say that to someone whose energy is dwindling…should you?

He made me laugh when he asked if I feared death.  I answered, “No, just dying hard.”

Smiling and nodding his head, he responded, “Yeah, me too”, followed by a laugh that turned into a coughing spell.

Charlie tired out quickly and I tried to let him sleep.  He was like a young child, fighting sleep tooth and nail.  He would be silent, eyes closed, and then, as if rallying, struggled to begin a new conversation.

In between naps and gasps, he spoke of times gone by, people he knew, many now gone.  Hopes of glorious reunion.  I wonder…I wonder if his faith is stronger than mine.

I wrote the following death scene for a yet unpublished book entitled Paradise.  It was written with an attitude of hope.  I hope Charlie walks into the light.  I hope we all walk into the light “As (our) Time Goes By.”

The old man could hear voices in his sleep.  They seemed familiar.  He opened his eyes to a bright light….  There was no glare and he didn’t have to squint.  It was soft and warm, welcoming.  Figures were silhouetted against it.  Three he could discern but there seemed to be others just beyond his sight.

“Allen Kell…wake up!  It’s time.”  The old man smiled because he recognized Lucretia’s voice.

“Lucretia…time for what?”

“It’s your time…your time to move to the light.  There are people here who want to see you.  I want to see you.  It’s been a long time and I’ve missed you terribly.”

“Who’s there with you Lucretia?  I can’t quite make them out.”

“Cassandra and Josey…but there are others.  Don’t be scared.  It is glorious, and we can all be together.”

“Together,” The old man found himself on his feet, in a body he didn’t quite remember.  He wore the old Garibaldi shirt from the war, an old slouch hat was in his left hand.  With his right he reached for Lucretia’s hand…except it was all their hands it seemed.  Lucretia’s along with Cassandra’s and Josey’s.  There were more people from his past.  Sean, with his leprechaun grin, waving at him.  Alexandre’ decked out in his fresh mourning suit and smiling broadly.  Shailene in a mauve gown whose bodice defied gravity.  James, Momma and Papa Edwards…and more.

“Come, Allen Kell.  We are here to help you reach the light.  Your time on earth is done.  You should not be afraid.”

“Afraid?  No Lucretia, I’m not scared.  I’ve missed you.  I love you, just lead and I will follow.”

“Come, Paradise beckons.” and he was gone.

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Don Miller writing under the nom de plume of Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07B6BDD19