I have a confession to make.
On Friday afternoon when our New York Mansion Party fever was at a high pitch, I indicated I must leave the house, which would result of course in my being disconnected from the blogosphere. I designated Helen as CEO in my absence. Using choice words that would guard my impeccable character and preserve my flawless integrity, I told of my need to leave. Although I am unable to recall my exact words, nor do I wish to check the record, I believe I indicated I was leaving for business matters that urgently demanded my attention.
Actually, I went shopping.
Harsh judgments are out of order, for it was not your run-of-the-mill grocery store or mall shopping that finally drew me from the dynamics of my web dance. I'm quite convinced I could have resisted such pull, easily postponing a typical shopping spree until a time when our real estate plans were merely smoldering and not at the hot sizzle of Friday afternoon. No, it was not an ordinary shopping trip that snared me: it was our Mountain Wide Garage Sales.
Within the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California are several communities: the second largest is Crestline. Each Memorial Day weekend, throughout the streets, lanes and roads of our mountain towns, folks set out their wares for our biggest sale of the year. It's phenomenal…and I went…deserting all of you.
I found treasure.
A dirty box held the silver that was clanked in the far reaches of a shaded table. Small talk with the people around me, a question or two, the final price, a thin digging in my wallet, and the pieces were mine. At home, I sudsed and polished. I rubbed at the stains, and from the crevices dug thick tarnish until I produced the glow. The desirable patina of an aged piece of silver was revealed.
While it can be polished to a high shimmer, new silver lacks the burnished luster that comes from years of use, of repeated polishing, of tiny nicks and scratches and bent places on the surface. The patina of fine silver is cherished.
Last afternoon, came to visit elderly friends. Rebecca drove them up the mountain. Opal walks with difficulty, and for a time, we considered visiting only in the restaurant where we had met, but they wanted to see our home, so we helped her tackle the stairs leading to the front door. Both knees and a hip have been replaced and the operations were not as successful as one could wish. At times she uses a walker, but today was a cane, a metal cane on which were painted images of flowers. Her curled hair retains a bit of dark, but mostly runs to grey. The years have moved her face, and although I am not aware of stroke, her mouth has a wry tug. An unevenness marks her. She was assisted to a chair, where she remained as Jerry toured Jim through the house, and as conversation flowed around her. Later Rebecca helped her shuffle into the bath room. Opal is more quiet than in other years, as though she has adjusted to her final cloak
Jim is older than Opal, but in better shape. His skin is mottled and his thinned hair has faded. His eyes twinkle, though, and his laugh rings as before.
Edges of conversation revealed their sorrow and disappointments. Hinted at were imperfections in a child or two, and their financial challenges. Charming and ambitious grandchildren were disclosed and a son who dotes on them and attends their every need.
Brilliantly emanating from our spent friends was their fineness, so that the crippling and distortion of their bodies gave way to the glow of well-lived people. Their long lives of bent places, of nicks and flaws and scratches, of hurt and trouble, of grief and sorrow, has produced the finest of patina.
We helped them down the stairs and into their automobile. Rebecca settled them in and prepared to drive down the mountain, while in the cold air, Jerry and I stood on the deck. We watched them disappear beyond the curve.
I went shopping Friday and found treasured silver. In my living room last evening I touched again the fine patina of well-lived lives.
(Note: My friend's names are changed.)
Tags: friendship, agedness, patina