Born on Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
And that was the end
Of Solomon Grundy
If that isn’t the dangdest thing. Here I am, ninety-five years old, and something new has happened to me. Just when I was sure that there was nothing left for me to experience, along came Life and tapped me on the shoulder saying, Hey there, Sol – look around. There’s still a thing or two I want to show you.
I’ll grant you, it’s nothing earth-shattering, and yet, here I am, still surprised by life. How to describe it? It’s a peculiar feeling, one I’ve never had before. It’s like I’m somehow connected to people. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, always let Rose handle the people thing, so it’s strange for me. Well, so be it. Rose always said those were my words for everything.
I’m not sure when it started – hold on, yes, I do know. It was this Monday. I remember because I ventured outside. The weather was fine, so I took my shoes in to be resoled. Down there on the corner.
I was walking along and paused to catch my breath, just took a minute to steady myself there by the churchyard railing. Along came a young mother with a baby carriage. She stopped to adjust the soft blue blanket around a tiny baby. I nodded politely, and glanced down at her baby. He looked like he was born that day, a brand-new little thing.
And that’s when it happened. He opened his eyes and looked at me. For the briefest of moments, our eyes met, and I knew I had seen that baby before, a long time ago. And I knew that he recognized me, too.
I looked up in astonishment at his mother, but she just smiled and continued down the sidewalk. I stood there a moment and watched them leave. Then I scratched my head and thought it must be my age playing tricks on me.
The shoe man said he’d have my shoes ready the next day. I have to say, he’s one of the best cobblers I’ve ever had the pleasure to come across in this long life of mine. His name is Ignatius, but in my mind I call him Giuseppe. He looks like the old mustached fella in that fairytale. I told him if the weather holds I’d be in the next day to pick them up.
Giuseppe? No, hold on, that’s not it. Geppetto – that’s it. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I watched him through the window, bending over his table of shoes. I wondered if he had a little wooden puppet in the back room there.
Well, the weather did hold so I went and got my shoes. I can’t swear to it, but I think I saw a few buds on the churchyard trees. It seems a little early, but then again, I’ve seen spring arrive as early as February and as late as May. Spring can be unpredictable, and it’s best to respect her fickle ways. Never plant tomatoes before May tenth. That’s just a fact of life round here.
One year, I just couldn’t wait, and I planted them on the ninth. Rose told me not to. She said it had taken so long to raise the tomatoes from seeds to seedlings, why not wait another day?
But I was a stubborn young cur back then, before Rose’s gentle ways had a chance to work on me. And dang, if it didn’t freeze that night! Lost the whole lot of them. She never said a word then, but we laughed about it for years.
Anyway, there I was, resting on the churchyard bench, with my resoled shoes in a bag and my cane propped alongside me. From the side door of the church, came a small group of people. A proud father carried a baby dressed in a long, white christening gown.
I stood as they walked by me and tipped my hat. They reminded me of Rose and me and our firstborn. People tipped their hats back then. I guess I looked a little odd, but they just smiled. The beaming mother positioned the child, so I could see it.
“What a beautiful baby,” I said.
And dang if it didn’t happen again! The baby locked eyes with me and smiled a knowing smile, smiled in recognition!
I looked up at the parents, astonished once again. But they thought I was astonished by the charm of their baby, said, “Thank you,” and left.
I faltered to the bench, and for some reason clutched the shoe bag and cane for all I was worth. What was going on here? Something new was happening. Ole Life was at his tricks again.
But I have to say, this was a welcome trick. It’s rather nice to be recognized after so many years of outliving everyone.
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