Oct 012010
 

Starting a New Career

by David Satterlee

Fergus and his wife Dorothy are middle-aged. Actually, they are just past middle-aged in that wonderland of freedom and possibility that exists while there is still ambition and the potential for growth but, at the same time, incipient mortality is a boil on the ass that prevents one from sitting idle. Dorothy is retiring early as a social worker and Fergus is disabled. Hard lives are threatening to get harder, but they have plans to do creative work together.

Fergus wakes with a mild surge of adrenaline, which, even when mild, is disturbing. Suddenly awake, he mentally reconnects with his ears, takes an inventory of the little noises around him, scans the dimly lit ceiling for a few moments and finally, beginning to relax, he glances at the clock. It is 3:38 am and he needs to pee. Raising his feet to a near fetal position to avoid disturbing the cat curled head-to-ass in a perfect yin/yang circle at his shins, he slides gently out of the bed. He is also especially careful to not disturb his gently snoring wife who is snuggled up to his rump. Everything is going well. He swings to the side and slides deftly to his feet with practiced precision, stands, checks his balance with the knuckles of his left hand, which deliberately brush the wall for orientation and stability. So far, so good.

Treading gently past the antique Chinese secretary’s desk, its close-hung doors squeak an alarm nonetheless. Busted. Dorothy jerks suddenly, sending the cat leaping into the void beyond the bed, raises up on her elbow, and mumbles with urgent concern, “Is everything okay?” “Yes,” Fergus assures her, “I just need to go to the bathroom.” “So do I,” she replies, “but you go first.”

Dorothy is a treasure. Fergus would do anything for her, even going first without posturing to be gallant and insisting that she precede him. Flooded with affection, he sits back down on the mattress edge and caresses her newly-emerged foot. He starts the game: “Have I told you yet today that I love you?” She responds in character and replies with a pout:”No, not yet.” The small episode concludes with the obligatory speech: “Darling, you are the light of my life, my joy, and everything that is precious to me. I cherish you beyond reason and would slay the fiercest beast to set a kindly path before your feet. I rejoice in the labors of our love: the work that we have shared, the children that we have raised, the friends we have comforted, and the future we will face step by step and hand in hand. I love you.” As always, the affirmation is sealed with a gentle kiss to her cheek.

“I was having a dream, Fergus explains.” He should know better; she will ask for details. Dorothy asks for details. “I had finally found some work I could do and a place that would have me. A University research department hired me to keep things up around one of their labs. First, they discovered that I not only knew my way around computers, but could make them roll over and tell jokes. Then, I revealed that I had experience maintaining analytical systems like their chromatographs and dielectrophoretic separators. After just a few days there, the director decided to redirect research into the properties of materials at ultra-cold temperatures. When he found out that I already knew how to operate high vacuum systems and handle the liquid nitrogen needed by mass spectrophotometers, he asked me to also be responsible for commissioning and overseeing the proper care of the new equipment. It was like going to heaven; I got three promotions in two weeks.” Dorothy smiles with patient tolerance and reminds him, “I love you too, but you’d better get to it soon or I’m going to wet the bed.” His response is certain and reassuring: “As you wish, my bride.” Centering his breath and remembering to live in mindful awareness, he gets up and leaves the still-darkened room to go do his business.

Flipping the wall switch by the bathroom door, Fergus is momentarily blinded and feels a disorienting wave of vertigo. His knuckles seek the reassurance of the door frame, while he squints and feels as if flowing into infinite brightness. A diffuse figure before him smiles gently in greeting, urges him to be unafraid and at peace, and pointedly inquires about what he has learned and how he has loved in life.

Copyright 2009, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.

Sep 302010
 

Grandma’s Precious Things

by David Satterlee

I always love when Grandma comes
to visit with us here.
It’s like a special holiday
to have my Grandma near.

I like it when she reads to me
while sitting on her lap.
I like it when she sings a song
to me before my nap.

And so one day I told my Mom
it didn’t seem too fair
that Grandma only came to us
but we’d not visit there.

“Why can’t we go to Grandma’s house?
I really want to know.
I like when she comes over here
because I love her so.”

=====================

My Mama looked real funny and
she sat me on a chair.
I wondered what was wrong that she
had made me sit right there.

She frowned again and looked at me
while thinking what to say.
I’m really glad she smiled at last
and talked to me that day.

“I know you love your Grandma and
I know she loves you too.
She loves to come and see us and
she loves to visit you.

“But Grandma’s place is different than
our house where children play.
She has a lot of precious things
that you might hurt some day.

======================

“You’ll break her chickens made of glass
and all her precious things.
You’ll tear the pages in her books
and try on all her rings.

“You’ll run around your Grandma’s house
and jump on all her chairs.
You’ll slide on all her little rugs
and bump down all her stairs.

“You’ll open all her closets up
and try on all her clothes.
You’ll use her pretty table cloth
to wipe your drippy nose.

“You’ll run around pretending that
you’re flying in the air.
You’ll make her yellow tabby cat
go hide beneath the chair.”

======================

It made me sad to think about
the things that mother said.
I almost felt like crying as
I laid there in my bed.

I really wouldn’t want to break
my Grandma’s precious stuff.
I only want to visit her
and wouldn’t play too rough.

I’d only play with just the things
that Grandma let me touch.
I truly would be quiet there
and not make noise so much.

The rules are sometimes different when
you’re in another place.
If only they would let me go
I wouldn’t run and chase.

======================

So when I woke tomorrow I
would tell my mother that
I promised to be careful and
leave stuff where it was at.

I’d try to be more thoughtful and
I’d walk instead of run.
I’d talk instead of shouting but
I still could have some fun.

I’d ask to see her pictures of
the places she had been.
I’d listen to her stories of
our family way back when.

And so it really happened that
we got into the car
and went to visit Grandma’s house.
It wasn’t very far.

=======================

My Grandma smiled and said that she
was glad that we were there.
She said that she had baked a batch
of cookies we could share.

I mostly looked but didn’t touch
but that was really hard.
So once or twice they told me I
should go play in the yard.

When I came in I had to wipe
my feet upon a mat.
She let me jump from just two steps
and pet the yellow cat.

She told me stories of the time
when Mother had been small;
before the time that I was born
and wasn’t here at all.

======================

Of course she hugged and kissed me and
she told she would care
about how I was growing and
that I was welcome there.

She said that she had noticed that
I didn’t tease the cat
and that I paid attention to
the place where I was at.

“But you,” she said, “mean more to me
than any fancy thing.
I’m grateful for your visit and
you make my old heart sing.

“I want you to remember though
that when the day is through,
of all the things I care about,
my precious thing is you.”

 

Copyright 2004, David Satterlee

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License, which essentially says that you are free to share the work under the conditions that you attribute it fully, do not use it for commercial purposes, and do not alter it.