Wednesday, July 16, 2014


When I was small (a nice old fashioned way of saying "when I was very young"), my grandmother would hand me a needle and a spool of thread and ask me to thread the needle for her.  She claimed that she just couldn't see that well anymore and that her hands and fingers refused to mind her.  As a matter of fact, she was several years younger at that time than I am now.  When she would ask me to do that, something told me that she could thread a needle as well as she ever could and that she was just being kind and giving a bored little kid something to do.  Something to make him feel good.  Something to make him feel helpful and important.  She was good about things like that.  So I dutifully took the needle and thread, bit off the length she needed, wet the threading end between my lips, twisted it with my thumb and forefinger down to the smallest finite size possible, and expertly pierced the eye of the needle with the end of the thread.  I let the needle slide to the halfway point of the thread's length and tied the end.  On first try.  "There," I would say, "all done."

My grandmother would smile and tell me thank you.  And that she was proud of me.

As I sat on the screened-in back porch of the farm this morning, attempting to rig my new rod and reel, I saw things a little differently.  I saw things through her failing eyes.  Getting the line through the eye of the swivel, twisting it a few times before looping it back through the eye again, attempting to tie the monofilament into a tight knot, and attaching the weight and the hook, I realized that, even with glasses, my eyesight was passable at best and that my hands and fingers refused to mind the commands of my brain.  Clumsy sausages on chunks of ham.  Finally, I had it rigged to my satisfaction and I said to no one in particular, "There.  All done."

But you know what?  There was a bobwhite calling every few seconds, an unseasonably cool July breeze was ruffling the leaves and carressing my face, and Jelly Belly had found her favorite position in my lap and was snuggly settled into it.  From a limb of the stubborn old hackberry that survived the April tornado, a bright red hummingbird feeder swayed back and forth, alerting me to the fact that it needed a fresh helping of sugar water.  Its immediate neighbor, the wind chimes, chinged, changed, and chunged a variant melody.  Forty acres of teenage corn danced the shimmy while the glassy blue sky dared even a wisp of cloud to intrude upon its vast perfection.

Yeah, the eyes...the hands...those doggone out-of-warranty body parts...grumbled quietly of age and passing time.  Joints creak and crackle.  Pain visits like a irritating uncle.  The body aging ain't no tea party.

But, my God!  What a wonderful morning it was!  What a pleasure to be alive!  Did my free and timeless soul not sing out with unadulterated joy?  Did not my spirit celebrate like a weaned puppy on its first jaunt in the vast and uncharted outdoors?  Did my winged psyche not soar into that glorious and perfect sky and pierce an invisible and diaphanous membrane giving me a brief but glorious glint of heaven.

Yes, yes, and yes.

I threaded that needle this morning.  On first try.  My grandmother would have smiled.  She would have been proud.

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