Sunday, March 23, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #318
Nancy White Kelly

Spring is springing, but don’t be fooled. Blackberry winter is a reality in these parts. Buddy and I moved from South L.A. in 1994. (That is lower Atlanta for those of you who moved here from somewhere yonder.) New to the mountains, we quickly learned not to put our cold-weather clothes away too soon. In late spring, Buddy stores our winter things in the attic above the garage. It is a steep climb up that wooden ladder Buddy built 14years ago. He isn’t as agile as he used to be. I have never been agile and seldom do ladders, even the three-foot kind. Buddy shouldn’t do ladders either at his age. He fell off one recently.

My Buddy is a great guy, but a poor patient. He whined about soreness for days. I was grateful he didn’t break a hip, but rolled my eyes after the umpteenth time of hearing about it. Granted, I wasn’t born to be a nurse.

Several days ago I called to check on a neighbor who was recovering from minor surgery. For thirty minutes she gave me a blow by blow description of every quiver of her bowels for the last ten days. I patiently listened. It was all so moving, but be assured she won’t be hearing from me anytime in the near future. Some things you don’t discuss ad infinitum and constipation is one of them…at least not with me.

But, if you want to whine about taxes, I’ll join you. As I get out my receipts, calculator, IRS forms, and another cup of coffee, I will share with you one of my favorite stories:
While eating at a local buffet, a man suddenly called out, "My son's choking! He swallowed a quarter! Help! Please, anyone! Help!"

A man from a nearby table stood up and announced that he was quite experienced at this sort of thing. He stepped over with almost no look of concern at all, wrapped his arms around the boy's abdomen, and squeezed. Out popped the quarter. The man then went back to his table as though nothing had happened.

"Thank you! Thank you!" the father cried. "Are you a paramedic?"

"No," replied the man. "I work for the IRS."

The Living Lady is happy that winter will soon be over, that Buddy is not in a full-body cast, and that my friend’s digestive track is functioning properly. I will be even happier when our tax return is in the mail.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #317

Nancy White Kelly

The most memorable event of my life occurred on March 28, 1980. The lengthy scar from a C-section frequently reminds me of the pangs of pain I experienced that wonderful Friday night.

Charlie was playing the piano by ear by the time he was two. When he was five, he was entertaining friends and family with Chariots of Fire while stretching his scrawny little legs to reach the then distant pedals.

Fast forward over a quarter of a century. Charlie was recently helping a friend who is the youth minister at his church. While the group of adolescents was wolfing pizza in the Fellowship Hall, Charlie quietly slipped away. He headed to the church sanctuary across the street for a secret rendezvous.

It wasn’t the first time he had done so. His private pleasure was to play the church’s grand piano with all the passion of a pianist at Carnegie Hall. That was his maternal grandmother’s fantasy dream…to see him play there someday. She will have to settle for his music in heaven, but not too soon I hope.

That worship center of the church was not being used. He opened the heavy doors to the sanctuary and was amazed at the total pitch darkness. He had seen dark in there before, but never so dark as that night. He pulled out his cell-phone to use as a light. He carefully walked down the far right aisle. The dim beam of the little phone barely caught the outside edges of the pews.

Charlie inched toward the front of the sanctuary. He climbed the side steps and felt his way to the magnificent piano. His searching fingers found the sheet-music light which he switched on. He was amazed at how powerful that little light bulb seemed in such utter blackness.
As he stood thumbing through the hymnal, he heard a sound. It wasn’t much, but enough to perk his ears. Charlie peered out into the total darkness. After a brief moment of futile gazing, a deep voice interrupted.

“I am here to pray.”

Charlie heart skipped to this throat.

“That’s fine,” he replied. “Will piano music disturb you?”

The yet unseen man replied that it wouldn’t. After a few minutes of soft playing, Charlie turned toward the distant man.

“I suppose we should introduce ourselves.”

A shadowy figure emerged from the darkness. As he came closer, Charlie observed that he was a muscular, middle-aged man. His face was life-worn and his head was shaved.

“I heard that the sanctuary was always open,” the man said. “My wife’s grandmother attends here.”

“Yes,” Charlie replied. “We are always open though we don’t advertise that to the public. Is there anything you would like to talk about?”

The stranger replied that he could go on all night about his problems. Charlie responded that sometimes people need others to talk to and that perhaps God brought them together.

The man was full of troubles, mostly related to his marriage and finances. He and his wife used to be church-goers, but had back-slid to the point of seldom going now.

Charlie, being considerably younger, awkwardly stumbled for the right words for the distraught visitor. Charlie prayed for wisdom as he shared Bible verses and common-sense advice. The man unloaded his sordid past and Charlie listened and responded compassionately. When it was time to part, the man agreed to follow up with a counselor that Charlie recommended.

The man came to a dark church to pray and to seek a response from God. Little did Charlie know that he would be the Almighty’s channel for blessing.

Little did Buddy and I know what God had planned for him that night, twenty-eight years ago, when this miracle son was welcomed to the world. Happy birthday, Charlie.