The Geezer was getting ready to take me for a boat ride. He turned the key in the ignition and the outboard said, “Ah-rrr-rrr-rrr.” The old fart answered, “Oh, shit.” He looked at me and added, “I haven’t had the boat out in a while, Sandy. The battery’s down. You’ll have to sit while I get the charger and get her juiced up.”
I was ready to ride the waves and collect the bevy of compliments I get when we venture down the canal and I assume a show pose standing in the boat’s bow. Tara, Cindy, and the rest of you two-legged models step behind, please. The delay disappointed me and I don’t handle disappointment well. “It’s not my fault you were off running around the country visiting grandchildren and joining unions,” I snapped.
The Geezer looked confused, one of his favorite expressions. “Joining unions? What are you talking about?” The old boy’s cranial gears locked up.
“Remember, the last time we were going to go out, you called the trip off at the last-minute because you said you were going to have to pack to see your old union buddies.”
His face got that blank stupid stare unique to humans. Clueless, clueless, clueless. I took a deep breath and prepared to oil those ancient cogs. “Let me refresh.” I tried not to sound condescending or sarcastic, but I probably wasn’t successful. “The Anderson union people.”
He smiled and chuckled. “Oh, that reunion. That’s entirely different, Sandy. A reunion is a get together of folks that had a common experience or were in the same organization. I went to my 50th high school reunion. I apologize for my social life interfering with your jaunts out on the seas.”
One good thing about the Geezer is that he understands his station in life and his obligation to serve my needs as his primary task. “I accept,” I said graciously. He sat down and stared across the canal as though he was far away. Even stranger, he was quiet. Normally the old boy would push out enough hot air to hoist a balloon to 12000 feet telling me all the details about such an adventure. I waited, but the silence continued. I had enough. “Okay, tell me about it. Did you enjoy yourself?”
“Yes, I did. I really didn’t realize that until just now.” He looked up at an Osprey that rode the air currents wafting above us.
“Do you see those folks often?”
“No, most I hadn’t seen in the full 50 years.”
“Why on earth wouldn’t you have had a good time? Didn’t you like the school or the people who went there?”
“Oh, no, just the opposite. I’ve missed many of them. When times or situations get rough I pull out one of the memories I have of those days and those people. Magically the problem or the need becomes less; they’re like medicine for a sick man. It was great to see Pat and Ted and Jake and Jerry and Roger, all of them. Naming names wouldn’t mean anything to you, only me. Leaving one out would seem a disgrace. And they were so nice. Jeanne and…” He looked away and I knew better than to try to see what might be in his eyes.
I asked softly, “Geezer, I don’t understand. Why have you just decided you had a good time?”
“Memories are sacred things, Sandy. They’re lodged in a temple in our minds. Each time we remove them and warm ourselves in their glow they increase in value. The older we get the more revered they become.” He turned back to face me. “All of sudden all those faces, those images, were gone. In a few hours I had to realize they’d changed. Honestly, I felt robbed.”
“Sounds like you regretted giving them up. What changed?”
“Some words I wrote in one of my novels. They came to me when I realized I would have liked to have seen some people who didn’t make it, Barbara, Kay, Carl.”
“What were the words, Geezer?”
“Well, Sandy, a heroine in one of my books was going through tough times and was painting a waterfall to relieve some of her stress. She was coming to grips with major changes in her life… and this is what I had her realize.” He looked at me and quoted, ” As there had been changes within Gaylynn during her September on Echo Creek, there were subtle changes in the stream’s surroundings. Summer’s lush green was evolving into fall’s old olive and the first hints of gold, tan, orange and red appeared in the foliage. The best she could do was catch a fleeting image and record it on canvas, for Echo Creek was a never-ending work in progress. These changes would continue until time ceased to exist for this magical spot. The falling waters told Gaylynn that life is the same. And content in that knowledge, Gaylynn resumed her painting, her heart holding the brush.”
“Are you holding the brush now?” I asked.
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