The Shape of a Life
Sitting in my garden in a pleasant fall sun, my thoughts wandered….thinking of my husband who’d gone off to a track meet that afternoon. It came to me what great wealth I possess.
The annual track meet was honoring Mr. S’s former coach who died long ago of a heart attack. I considered going along but it was difficult to get interested when I no longer knew the competitors, unlike years ago when, as South American champion of 400 meter hurdles, he kept me up-to-date with names and records of all the better-known athletes. I continued involved in the world of track and field when my sons began competing. Having never attended a single track meet as a young woman, I never imagined that one day I’d be rubbing shoulders with brawny tri-athletes and marathoners.
Before my introduction to track, there was opera. I once dated an opera buff who helped train my ear to recognize the voices of Renata Tebaldi and Maria Callas. We were present at the San Francisco Opera House when James McCracken lost his voice singing Othello, yet continued on in a falsetto voice. Later, sharing this interest with Mr. S., we enjoyed years of the Santiago Opera performances together. But maybe that operatic seed just needed encouragement to germinate, for as a child I followed Rudolph Bing’s presentation of the New York Met Saturday performances on my old radio. My mother must have exerted an influence there though I have no recollection of it.
The place of enormous natural beauty where I grew up deeply marked me as a person– along with camping vacations along Glen Alpine Creek in the Sierra Nevada, fishing with my father at Lily Lake and identifying the birds visiting our backyard feeder. Now my hubby and I have infected several of our friends with the bird watching bug, friends who previously couldn't distinguish a hawk from a dove.
I could go on listing my riches – my love of reading and gardening – but the important realization is that these were freely given to me by others, who, I suspect, were often unaware of their impact on my life. And I, too, work to identify opportunities for paying it forward. I can smile and nod to the old broom vendor passing by, acknowledging his existence.
Grandparents are in a special position to kindle awakenings. I haven't yet shared our family’s three generations of stamp collections with my grand girls. I’m waiting for the right moment. I suspect they've never sent or received a letter through the postal service. When they come to visit, they take out my gardening tools, gloves and watering can to “work” in the yard. Surely richer than any gift I could buy them at the mall.