A classic – Thank you, Brook Benton
Have you had questions you believed would never be answered?
Amazingly, three of mine were answered yesterday! Three in one day!
The 1st question: What was the source of Gary’s spirituality?
When I moved to this island, there was a barber named Gary. Gary and his wife parented incredibly handsome sons. There is not an actor in Hollywood who could top these tall, fit and handsome men. Besides their physical beauty, they are generous, respectful and caring. All of them have fathered talented and delightful children. All
of them contribute to their communities with enthusiasm. They’re in the Fire Department, do stunning stonework, work with the disabled, produce phenomenal photography etc., etc. I wish I could post photos, but their wives probably have enough women panting over their men.
These sons maturely receive and accept our appreciation without falling into the silliness of over-inflated egos. This simply makes them more attractive!
Years ago, in between haircuts, Gary-the-Patriarch wrote and published spiritual material. These articles were published in our local paper and held a depth that called a soul to attention. They provided a unique look at life. His messages were empowering rather than preachy.
When I have been around Gary and his wife, the time wasn’t appropriate to ask where he learned these concepts.
Yesterday, Gary’s wife and I were on the same bench after Aquafit at the swimming pool. No one else was around. I asked about Gary, knowing he has Parkinson’s, and learned he’s in the hospital permanently. I said, “I remember Gary’s spiritual articles in the paper. I always wanted to ask the source of his inspiration. Whatever it was, it fed integrity to your sons and their good works.”
She gave me a smile of soft surrender and told me about their life before coming to our island. Many years ago, with three sons and one on the way, Gary and she moved south to the States where they spent time in a communal setting. She laughed explaining that their rambunctious little boys didn’t make them a popular family. However, they were given the teachings of a movement called the Emissaries of Divine Light. The concepts infiltrated their lives and, while the movement has dwindled with the death of its founder, she confirmed that the concepts did give them a solid spiritual footing.
From Wikipedia: (Click here for Link)
“Emissaries of Divine Light is a global spiritual network initiated by Lloyd Arthur Meeker in 1932. The foundational premise of the network is that human beings are divine by nature, and that their divinity is experienced as it is expressed in service to the world. …”
She said, “The movement is much smaller since the founder has died, but it may be just as well. The messenger is not meant to be the one worshiped.”
Her final comment, like the words once shared by her beloved, was a meal.
The 2nd question: Was that man truly your husband?
As I stood willing the cash machine into generosity, someone said, “Are you tired after today’s Aquafit class?” I turned to greet Jess, a woman I’d always liked. She continued, “Everyone was complaining that they were beat after our session.”
“Phew! I thought it was just me. I’m going for coffee. Care to join me?”
Off we went. Jess and I could not remember how or when we met, but it was decades ago. I remembered her impish sense of humour. Over the years, our quick exchanges meant laughter. Now both retired, we finally had
time to visit.
About 15 years ago, a man, Hunter (not his real name), began to hang around my friend Dale’s home. Dale, now passed on, was an intelligent, semi-eccentric who loved to live alone. For mysterious reasons, he was allowing Hunter to share his house. Eventually Hunter found a small trailer and moved it to Dale’s property. Dale helped connect water and power to the trailer thus ensuring privacy once again.
I asked Dale why he was willing to share his property. “Hunter and I have some similar conditions and he kinda looks to me for some understanding once in a while.” I decided it was a guy thing.
When I would show up at Dale’s house, Hunter would fall silent and leave the house. I asked Dale about it one day and he said, “He’s just private.”
Private was a polite adjective, I decided, and ignored Hunter’s behaviour. Hunter didn’t speak to me for years – until I walked the cancer trail with Dale. Hunter then decided to be reasonable. I suspect he knew he may otherwise be taking over responsibility for helping Dale.
I had heard that Jess and Hunter were once married, but it was hard to imagine them together. Yesterday, after many years of my silently wondering, she confirmed they had been married, had a son, and ended up divorced. She described her life during that marriage and validated my decision to not make any attempt to bridge a mysterious gap with Hunter.
Hunter is Hunter. Amen.
The 3rd question: What became of Bella (not her real name)?
While I was 9/10, we lived in a tiny one-bedroom teacherage by a one-room country school. We were desperately crowded. My mother frequently allowed my over-night stays with Bella and her mother at their farm. I loved milking cows in the morning, separating cream and churning butter – all by hand.
Bella was three years older than me. It was a major difference at that age, but largely ignored in rural areas where miles lay between playmates and companionship.
Bella’s mother was an oasis of domesticity. Ordinarily I went to the teacherage for lunch, but on days of having sandwiches and special desserts packed by Bella’s mom, it was a treat to eat at my desk. Bella hated packed lunches; I loved them. Bella hated riding the stoneboard to school – pulled by a neighbour boy’s Clydesdale; I loved it. Bella hated going to Sunday School; I could hardly wait to hear the country church’s congregational confession period. Bella hated being good; I was usually too scared to be bad.
At night, in the attic bedroom at the farmhouse, Bella would think I was asleep, slip out of bed and go to spend time with young men. I pretended to be asleep, but would lie awake until she came back. I dreaded thoughts of her mother coming upstairs and being mad at me for not confessing Bella’s absence.
Bella and her mother didn’t talk much about her father or siblings. Their stay at the farm was seasonal. When winter became harsh, they’d return to the family in the city. I never asked my mother if she knew the mystery.
This past Monday, a friend and I were talking about the prevalence of youthful promiscuity today. I told him about Bella and questioned whether much had actually changed.
On Friday, I received a call from a neighbour. “…You used to live in that part of Alberta…did you know the family who had a daughter named Bella?” I nearly fell off my chair.
The neighbour explained that an ex-colleague is doing some genealogy and is Bella’s cousin. He wants to piece together some gaps in family history and is keen to gather people’s memories of his family. My neighour asked I would be willing to share any memories. It would be great to tell the cousin how much I adored his aunt, Bella’s mom.
I now know where Bella resides. When her cousin calls, I hope to learn what kind of life she has lived.
It’s all just a matter of time.
With patience, the answers come.
But three in one day?!