“Everybody should be quiet near a little stream, and listen.”
I follow the path. It’s quiet. A covey of quail stir in the undergrowth. Their mama whispers a warning. As I pass … stillness.
Trees abound: oaks, maples, and dogwood. White firs, shaggy with lichen, border the trail. A lone ponderosa pine towers above all. Its needles cushion the forest floor. High in the branches, mourning doves share courtship harmonies. They repeat the refrain, “Here I am. Here I am.”
I move along, one foot in front of the other. The path is wide. To my left, wildflowers cover the hillside. To my right, a precipitous slope descends to the bottom of the canyon. It’s a briar patch of blackberries, poison oak, and barbed thistle all the way down. Don’t go there. Stay the middle way.
The day is warm. I walk in the shade of the forest’s canopy. When I arrive downtown, however, the streets radiate heat. It’s Sunday, Mother’s Day, 80 degrees. The sidewalks bustle with shoppers. Tourists, … I recognize no one.
I’d timed my journey to coincide with a book store’s opening. An order awaited me: The Wager, Covenant of Water, and Small Mercies. I browse the stacks, enjoying the AC. I chat with the owner. She has a six year old the same age as my grandson. She is a close family friend. Her mother-in-law attended the home births of our children, more than forty years ago. I pay and depart.
Before heading home, I stop for an ice cream. I indulge in a double decker cone. I sit outside the shop beneath a large tree. I tack one of my poems to the public bulletin board. I initial it. I imagine anonymity adding to the wonder. Like the doves, I am a writer courting readers, saying, “Here I am. Here I am.”
Fortified, I lean into the climb out of downtown. It’s Oak St. to State St., then 9th and a steep pitch of stairs. Up top, a boy’s memorial statue greets me. He’s dressed in a baseball uniform. He’s poised with his bat, awaiting a pitch that will never arrive.
A bench beckons. I sit. I listen. I drink some water. I make notes on my phone. The statue stirs memories of a call I’d made earlier in the week. My brother Butch turned 79 on May 10th.
Of the four boys in our family, he’s closest to me in age. A good man, who I love. He’s a blue collar guy, like the rest of us Smiths. A loving father, husband, and also a good dog daddy. Our visits have been infrequent since I moved to Oregon in ’78. Yet, I recall hours of baseball we once shared. We played on the street in front of our childhood home. We called our games of catch, ‘pitching strategy’.
I wished him Happy Birthday. After that, the conversation stalled. The call confirmed what the other sibs had hinted at. He’s confused, off the path, and stuck in the prickly tangles of memory.
I arise from my resting spot. I move on. The final mile gently climbs from the memorial to our home. Six months ago, I could not hike to Hood River and back. It’s only five miles round trip via the Indian Creek Trail. But treatment for my cancer, multiple myeloma, deprived me of energy. Now, drug free, I enjoy renewed strength.
It’s been a good day. Thanks for coming along.
Here’s a song, a family ballad.
14 thoughts on “Mother’s Day 2023”
A good day indeed.
Thanks for sharing it.
Good to hear from you Arl. I read a good book about Boston in the 70s. Kevin might like it. It’s Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane.
We’ll check it out!
div>Always up for good book/movie/tv recommendations.
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A double decker ice cream cone! You sure worked it off with that walk. So happy to hear you’re able to enjoy a long walk. Happy almost-summer, John. 😊
Hi Julie. Yeah, it was a chocolate espresso cone! Got my motor running for the uphill jaunt home. 🏎️
Well done John. So glad that you are feeling so good drug-free. How long is this supposed to last?
Hi Tony. 🤗 Thanks for commenting. Your question gets to the very heart of a CAR-T treatment. A high percentage of patients respond. Durability of response is all over the place. Some get just three or six months, others are five years out and still going. Progression and remission are easy to track. I have a standing order for blood labs to be taken monthly for the next year. So, minimal doctoring for awhile. Fingers crossed 🤞…
That sounds so good John. Buenas suerte!!
Thanks for sharing such a lovely day with us! Your words capture the natural beauty and life’s simple pleasures – an ice cream cone & chatting with a friend. So glad you’re drug free and able to enjoy long walks!
Your writing style can’t help but sweep us along with your enchanting day – wonderful, and it settles the soul a bit. There is nothing as powerful as walks in nature ~ and when you can include a book store and ice cream… you’ve won the lottery 🙂 Great to hear you’ve regained strength and the CAR-T treatment is going well.
Also: thanks for mentioning the books. I just ordered The Wager…
Yep, The Wager is a good seafaring tale. Small Mercies is a strong mystery, good summer book. Starting Covenant soon.
Thanks for commenting Dale. 😎
As always your story fills my heart and stirs my memories of the past. So happy that you are feeling stronger and enjoying the season.
Hugs to you and Mar.
Thanks for commenting Chris. Our families have shared so much. 🥰
It’s wonderful to hear you’re feeling better. Thank you for the story