Mud Pie Moments

Look at that face, the serious one. I was doing it then and I’m doing it now, analyzing something. On that day dad caught me in thought; now, I’m thinking about my original, immediate family. We were four, but we’ve been three for some time.

Dad always had the camera, but he didn’t simply take pictures. He was a photographer (and writer and reporter) who enjoyed the entire process. He loved watching, capturing moments for later, for us. He knew the day would come, that we’d ask.

He was right. Dad is gone, but he’s the one I want to see, in that moment. I want to see his eyes. I want to look at his face, see his smile. What remains excludes the one most wanting to capture the moment: the architect.

Jan 2016_Karens Sept 17 1983 wedding
September 1983~a daughter’s wedding

I want to see the wheels turning. What were his thoughts looking at my sister wearing his shoes and shirt, knowing he’d captured a future laugh? What did he think watching his beaming wife smile over the 2%, while preserving her indelible beauty, his reflected love?

I can’t see him, only what he saw: the shadows, the light, the angle, the decision.

I don’t see poses or arrangements. I see the right here and right now. I see toast and jelly, bathrobes and jammies. I see dolls and toy buses, mussed hair. I see little girls with empty tummies racing to the breakfast table. I see my father’s life.

What exactly is that, a life, and what does it mean? Does an 87-year-old book serve its purpose, begin to capture the beginning of something so grand?

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When dad took us with him, he brought along the jellied faces, messy shirts, the uncombed hair. It could have been a mud pie day; that hardly mattered. He’d load us in the car and go. Mom recalls, “He was so proud of you girls,” and (though it made her cringe), “He didn’t care if you had muddy shoes and dirty faces.” We were his world, his family, just us four. What mattered was the here and now, the mud pie moments.

As I climb the hill, the voice is louder. Often it shouts. Questions outnumber answers: what of those who have gone before me? What was their purpose and what is mine? What’s it all about? Will we ever know? Does it matter? To whom do we direct the question?

Ever present is dad’s absence. About his past, there is no one to ask.

When dad passed I couldn’t find him and was most unsettled. I had no sense of where he’d gone; it took months to sort it out, dig for meaning.

It’s ten years now since we lost dad, but I’ve found what he left, what remains.

I discovered the architect’s plan.

Till we meet again

❤ RIP dad. Born June 30, 1929, died April 12, 2006. ❤

The Riverwalk

I grew up three blocks from here, near the fast-paced, cool waters of the Clackamas river. That isn’t quite true; they aren’t cool, they are dangerously, deceptively cold. Someone drowned near here a few days ago, again. This one was 21.

April 2016_walk along riverWe took a walk yesterday–my mother, my daughter, and I–above the river, about mid-day. I’d been unaware of the death, but they knew.

April 2016_walk along clackamas

When I was a kid, this walkway wasn’t there, but back then, my now 87-year-old mother wasn’t in need of a path with smooth surfaces, or a cane. The road sufficed. It occurred to me that this path was there just when it was needed, for the lady with the cane. So that we could sit together, on that day, above that river, that life-taking river.

The beds of friendly bursts welcomed us as did the bench on which we rested, soaked up some sun.

April 2016_flowers along walkway_2As we sunned and watched the river, I grew uneasy. My mother and daughter were warm, but I had the chills. Two days ago I learned that on Saturday my friend Dianna had passed away–four days prior. I couldn’t get warm.

April 2016_view of clack riverAs I watched the water retreat, saddened by not one but two deaths, I began to feel appreciation for everything around me, including the life-taking river. The two women I sat between–unbeknownst to them–buoyed me.

We didn’t say a lot. My daughter was killing time between her two jobs, welcomed the chance to soak up rays. My mother always welcomes time with family, knows more about this than any of us.

We concluded our day and I headed home. Little did I know that what sat in the back seat would soon help me gather my thoughts.

April 2016_bible front view
Smith family bible, 1904

I am not what I would call a religious person, and without opening that dialog, I will say I believe in a higher power. Call it what you will. I also feel that someway, somehow, things happen when and exactly as they are supposed to happen. I’ve rarely understood the whys, but I am confident that most of us don’t. Call that what you will.

Take a look at verse 1:

April 2016_Hebrews verse

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews, Chapter 11, Verse 1.

I wasn’t reading the bible, I was looking for family history, scavenging for facts. This bible has been in our family for 112 years. I brought it home yesterday for genealogical purposes, but those words packed a powerful punch. I was supposed to see them, feel their power.

It’s all too easy to become discouraged, to lose hope. We often ask, “What does it all mean?” Why does one person lose life at age 21, another at 65, yet another at 99? Why? Why? Why!?

Faith…the substance of things hoped for.

And the river flows.