— 1 —
Three years ago this December, before my wife and I retired from the Engaged Encounter team, we led one of our final groups of 20-25 couples at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House. One of the couples was a John and Jill. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would soon leave my then-employment and a few weeks later find myself working in the same offices as Jill. We’d talk about their wedding plans coming up in June, kids, etc. I’d experienced having people come up to me weeks, months or even years after an EE weekend and say “Do you remember me/us? You led our weekend back in _____.” I’d smile, admit (most of the time) that I didn’t remember, and we’d catch up a bit. We led weekends over the course of four years that put us in front of over 180 couples which means you wish you could remember them all…but often can’t. With Jill and I working in the same office, I was able to catch up with someone on a regular basis for the first time. But right around the time of their wedding she could no longer be found. I chalked it up to getting married, moving, and starting their lives elsewhere. This morning as I was coming into the parking garage I was waved at by a tall young woman as she crossed in front of my truck. I waved back and wound up parking near her car. It was Jill. We walked the four blocks of skywalks together catching up. She’d gone back to college to finish her Master’s Degree in English and was now writing for a website company located in the building next to my offices. Her and John are living once again in Lincoln, members of a local parish, and doing well. It was a much needed lift to cross paths with someone that you affected in a positive way.
I said that we used to be approached by people while out shopping/at the movies who’d say “Remember us?” and it would be awkward as I’d have to admit I didn’t. John and Jill are a couple that I remembered. How could I not? You know: Jeff and Janell…John and Jill.
Ok, you can floss the sugar out of your teeth now…
— 2 —
This morning a co-worker has brought in a box full of iris bulbs. I’ve been wanting to plant irises for years but each spring finds me kicking myself for neglecting to plant them the previous autumn. I spent a ton of money on bulbs seven years ago but what did come up were pretty sad and never took. So I’ll give it a go with some free bulbs this weekend and see if I can get a little corner of my yard to resemble my grandparent’s yard that I remember from the lazy Sunday afternoons of my childhood.
— 3 —
Tonight is our elementary/middle school’s annual “Trunk or Treat”. I wish they’d had these when I was a kid…easy-peasy haul of candy with minimal effort. And then they’ll go out again on Monday: J as a ninja, S as a pink fairy. And so it’s the time of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (for the two youngest and for their parents), and “Halloween” if you’re my teenage son. And for me it’s also the time of year that I break out my Camille Saint-Saens CD and listen to one of my favorite pieces of music ever. I’ve been blessed over the past eighteen months to see our city’s symphony perform both Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and his immortal Fifth Symphony. I’d love to see this one performed sometime, too.
— 4 —
Night is generally my time for walking. In the summer I often leave home early in the morning, and roam about fields and lanes all day, or even escape for days or weeks together; but, saving in the country, I seldom go out until after dark, though, Heaven be thanked, I love its light and feel the cheerfulness it sheds upon the earth, as much as any creature living. (the opening paragraph in Chapter One to The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens)
I’d promised myself this year I’d read something by Dickens this fall. Last night after the World Series game ended I finally began The Old Curiosity Shop and was introduced to Little Nell. Within five minutes I was reminded of something: I really don’t read Dickens often enough.
Is that even possible? I need to try it and find out.
— 5 —
I took a break before posting this in order to walk a few blocks and pick up a peppermint latte at Starbucks. (I’ve been hooked on ‘em since last Christmas…shhhhh.) While standing there in my red Nebraska baseball jersey I met a delightful silver-haired couple dressed head-to-toe in Michigan State green. “Somebody’s cute grandparents are out and about,” I thought. He had the Michigan State cap and green jacket. She had a green and white wool sweater complete with green and silver beads around her neck. “I suppose we won’t be cheering for the same team tomorrow,” he said with a smile and a nod at my jersey. “Nope,” I replied with a grin. I asked if they came from Michigan. He said yes. I smiled and welcomed him to Lincoln. “Have fun tomorrow,” I told him as I left. He thanked me and said they hoped they would. I hope they do too, even though we won’t be rooting for the same football team tomorrow.