When I was a youngster, I was at a friend's house, on a Saturday afternoon. We had just watched the Dick Clark show, American Bandstand, and were left with not much else on the tube except for a Shirley Temple movie or snow skiers tumbling down a hillside.
I spied an old picture book on the coffee table, and asked my friend if I could look at it. She said I could, but there was not much to see in it. It belonged to her grandmother, who was living with the family now that her husband had passed away. The grandmother still owned her house in East Tennessee, so most of her belongings were there, but the picture book was among the possessions she brought to Memphis.
Most of the pictures were of her children and grand children. Only a dozen or so photos of she and her husband were to be seen. As I was looking through those a second time, after we had gone through the entire album, I remarked to my friend, that it was a shame the couple never went anywhere, as all the images were obviously from around their home.
Can you imagine my surprise, when a voice from behind me said, that was not the case at all? Neither my friend or I had heard her come into the room. We had no idea she was looking over our shoulder. I apologized for my remark. She said that was not needed. Then she sat between, cradled the picture album and told us some stories.
Perhaps you can tell, he was camera shy;
He said "I would only do this for you,"
Never stood still, rather wiggly and spry;
I remain challenged to explain just why.
This is his best, in my humble review."
Taken on the night he chose to propose,
I can still see him there, on bended knee.
Dressed to impress in his finest of clothes.
How he stirred up nerve, only heaven knows;
Dreamed of the day he'd ask to marry me.
Life was quite hard in that small rural town.
See his heart's passion, plowed deep through that field;
A living carved out through green shares in brown
Sporting a Stetson, but held like a crown.
Unable to keep his love there concealed.
Here he is dressed for a game of baseball.
Traveling teams, came for barnstorming fun.
Cleats ripped his leg, an unfortunate fall;
Poured Coke over it, no fussing, that's all,
True healing magic, he hits a home run!
We're all smiles here at the sweet county fair.
My prize peaches turned blue-ribbon that day.
Look close, you can see me clutching a bear.
For years, we left it in sight without care
Our children welcomed to find it to play.
Bless his heart, he was born with two left-feet.
Here we are at a Saturday square-dance.
Refusing to give up and take a seat.
Got a mail-order lesson, set complete,
To learn how to Charleston, study his stance.
Here were are on our ride to meeting day.
Never missed a Sunday, not a time late;
I'd visit after, his patience at play.
Notice that porch swing, we'd sit there all day;
Each afternoon, like a wondrous new date.
You do not see, but he was in this scene.
He's the one doing the picture taking.
His hand was steady, his eyes were quite keen;
Said it was like viewing life on a screen;
Knowing well the memories he was making.
We never thought about leaving our home.
We had it all, never feeling alone,
Even when our kids went out on their own.
Neither felt burdened by an urge to roam.
I never knew quiet, 'til he was gone.
She closed the book, then set it on the stand;
Rose to her feet, giving a solemn stare.
There is not a place, I now understand,
Where they had not spent time, just as they planned,
Except that one place.... He was waiting there.
Michael Todd (2014)
Disclaimer: I wrote the draft for this, back in the Spring, as a poem to give to Lainey. She likes Robert Frost. I was trying to write with a rhyme scheme that was similar to a Frost piece. I have seen Lainey do those, in a challenge, and she owns them.... When I realized, I was so far off the mark, rather than shelve the poem, I sent it to Lainey, asking if she would help me with it. What you see here is the finished product she provided. Seriously, I probably averaged a major mistake per stanza... So, unlike that Frost poem, where he came to a fork in the road, and chose one over the other... in my case here, I chose to turn around and go back, to get my bearings, which in this case, was going back to Lainey, in order to get it right. Hey, if she could teach me how to write a sonnet (she did), surely, in time she can get me to where I can do one of these all by myself. But, in the event I cannot, if is always good to know she is there for me.
September 10 is Lainey's Birthday.