Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2016 12 02 Oh Wondrous Night December 2, 2016

Hello and Happy December to ya.

It goes without saying that December holds some of the most amazing moments of the year. Mistletoe, candy canes, strings of lights and a smile from an innocent child have always had a way of picking up my spirits and carrying them through the magical moments of the holiday season.

The following short essay was written a few years ago by a guy who finds a way to go back through the years, to a moment in time when a tale of magic was born. These are the times I will cherish as I flip through the memories of my past.

Thanks for stopping by, and here’s to the memories.

And now, it’s on with the show!

***

Oh Wondrous Night

I remember those special tingling feelings that flew up and down my spine around Christmas time. It was pure magic, and I never wanted it to end.

The anticipation of a child, leading up to that marvelous day seemed to last forever, and the long winding down of the days until Santa would come was sometimes too much to bear.

We always got the Sears Wishbook in the mail, and I think I rifled through it a thousand times, dreaming of the countless gifts that were at my fingertips, hoping that somehow, some of them would find their way into Santa’s sleigh, and under our tree.

I always knew exactly what I wanted, and closed my eyes tightly as I whispered a secret prayer to the great white bearded man in the red suit. I was sure that he could hear me, and pictured him sitting in his comfy chair at the North Pole, looking through the same Wishbook that was on my lap. He knew what I wanted. He knew that I had been a good boy, except maybe for a couple small incidents, which I was sure he would overlook, because I was sincere and genuine when I told him how sorry I was for those unfortunate mishaps.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table and looking through the book with my little brother. We sat, mesmerized with the thousands of toys. Pages and pages of the most wonderful things ever imagined. Thousands of the most amazing feats of elfish workmanship that had ever made their way into such a glorious book.

Trains and planes and guitars and bat man pajamas and Hot Wheels and bikes and sleds and drums and GI Joes and cowboys and Indians and baseball bats and baseball gloves and toboggans and ice skates and hockey pucks and super balls and silly putty and bed tents and sleeping bags and superman capes and oh so much more. Even the Easy Bake Ovens looked delectably delightful to me.

All of the wonder and magic of Christmas hit me head on like a Buddy L freight train, screaming round the bend and heading straight for my bunk bed. It was all there, and it was all inside my head as I imagined this, and dreamed about that.

And then there was Christmas Eve. Ahhh, the feeling, unlike anything I had ever felt. Christmas Eve, and Santa was already on his way. Looking out at the night sky, I would search for his blinking lights on the sleigh. I can remember the newsman on TV, telling all of us expecting children that his sleigh had in fact been spotted over the Great Lakes, or up around Hudson Bay. Surely these news guys new what they were talking about. Surely they were keeping an eye on the progress of such an important event. The most important event of the year by far. No questions. This was it. He was on his way. All the waiting, all the dreams, all the wonder and magic and innocence of my imagination had finally come to this one moment. Christmas Eve.

I could see the excitement in my brothers and sisters faces. I could smell Christmas in the air, as plain as the chocolate chip cookies that mom had made to set out for Santa.

Christmas Eve had come, and I was smack dab in the middle of it. I had a front row seat to the best event of the year.

The excitement that surrounded our home was incredible. The icicles, gleaming and twinkling on our amazing Christmas tree meant even more. The electric candle lights in the picture window in the living room would surely send a sign to Santa that we were all waiting for him.

How could he know all of these things though? How could he work such magic on such a cold and wintery night? How could he do all of the wondrous things? How could such an amazing thing become so true?

I had all kinds of questions, but only He had the answers. Only he knew what to bring. Only He knew when I fell asleep. Only He knew how much I loved him and Christmas.

“Time for bed everyone!” Those words from mom rang through me like a thousand church bells. Finally, it was the last leg of the Christmas miracle. Finally, all of my waiting and hoping and dreaming and imaginations had finally paid off. I was rounding third, and Santa was heading for home, for my home.

Try as I might, I was never able to stay awake for very long, although I gave it a gallant effort. Sleep would always eventually take over as I lay in bed with the most amazing visions of Christmas dancing about in my head.

Try as I might, my eyes would eventually close, though for just a second. Snapping back out of wondrous thought, I was sure that I heard something, or saw something as I looked out my window at the starry night. He would come, and if I just close my eyes for a second, maybe I could have tricked Him into thinking that I was asleep, then I could have surprised him and finally gotten to see him. That’s it, I would have just close my eyes for a second or two. Just a quick minute. I should have been able to see him in that wonderful magical sleigh with those reindeer and all of those presents. I was a year older, a year wiser, and I should have been able to finally get to see him. That’s it, indeed, I had the master plan. I knew what to do, and I was sure I was old enough to see it through. All I had to do was stay awake. All I had to do was just stay awake. Maybe I could, I could just, maybe just close my eyes for a second, and then….

 

2016 11 11 Any Other Day November 11, 2016

On any other day, would the sunrise look as nice as it did that day last month? Has the sunrise ever looked as amazing as it did a couple weeks ago? What about that sunset just the other night? Did you get a snapshot of that one?

So many days I would get home at night and look across the street, towards the mountains out west. The sunset would be shimmering as bright as bright could be, sometimes with a thin layer of clouds hovering just above the peak of Sugarloaf. What an amazing sight it was. What an incredibly picturesque moment, framed especially for me, and it was absolutely free.

I would hop out of my work truck and hurry over to the front lawn, beside our mighty maple tree, and as I got ready to take a few pictures of the view, I couldn’t seem to raise the camera to my eyes for fear that I would miss something spectacular. And oh how spectacular it was.

We live through the years and spend so much time looking at things, special things that fill our minds time and time again. Does it get old? Do we get tired or bored with the same old visions? Is it our responsibility to notice all of the amazement that the non stop flurry of days brings to us?

During my Thirty year career on the road, I came in direct contact with some incredible moments in time. The flood of 1987, the ice storm of 1998, year after year of dazzling fall beauty, the sun glistening off the rocks on the shore of the causeway in Searsport, and these days, I miss them all. I miss the blinding brilliance of the sun shimmering on the shore of the Kennebec River, just north of Bingham. I miss the view of Sugarloaf as I wound my truck around Oh My Gosh corner in Carrabasset. I miss field after field of new born corn stalks, bashfully sticking their heads up from the fresh Maine dirt. I loved to look down the rows as I drove by. I guess you could call me a linear sort of guy.

How many times have I seen the same things, over and over again, only to be caught in time, caught up in awe as once again, one day, another day, I was to gaze at the same sight, the same opportunity, the same spectacular image once again. I guess some things you just never get tired of. I remember lying on the floor in the living room one afternoon. My grandson Jack was in his little rocking seat on the floor beside me. As he slowly fell to sleep, I couldn’t take my eyes off him. The light blond wisps of hair, the delicate eye brows, his perfect pudgy nose and little chest that rose and fell with each little breath. I could have laid there and watched him for a life time and a day. He was just that perfect, and it was just that good.

There are some things that we just never get tired of, especially from a visual point of view. I remember a couple other times as I was flying to Florida. As the plane came in lower to approach the Sanford runway, I noticed only one thing. Actually I noticed a lot of one thing, hundreds and hundreds of baseball fields. From high in the air, they looked so inviting, and so lonely at the same time. I felt sad that each field didn’t have a game in progress.

I could have looked at those fields of green until the cows came home. I could smell the fresh cut grass, I could hear the infield’s chatter as a batter stepped into the box. I could remember the sweat rolling down my nose as I stared in towards the catcher.

Oh yes, there are many things that I could stare at, glance towards, watch a thousand times, and then, a thousand more. The visions of our lives never cease to amaze our wandering eyes. They never promise more than the imagination can deliver. They always know what we want, and bring us exactly what we need. They are cause for celebration, and they help to bring us their very own secrets that only we will ever understand.

As my wife and I drove to town the other day and turned a corner, the warmth of the sun quickly swept over my right shoulder and face. I imagined what the sun looked like, sitting there, all fat and happy in the sky. I imagined how yellow and bright it looked, how confident it appeared to be, how comforting it was to so many, many things. I sat and felt the sun, and as we turned another corner, the warmth moved around to both my shoulders, my chest and my full face.

As I sat, enjoying the feeling, I slowly smiled as I remembered so many times I had seen this same sun in so many different places, over so many years, on so many different days of my life.

I wondered if there was any chance of anyone ever growing bored with that.

 

2016 11 02 My Toes Nose November 2, 2016

My toes hurt. My arches are broken down. My heels both hurt. My ankles ache. My right shin has dents in it. My left calf is killing me. My right knee locks up and hurts when I go down stairs. My right thigh aches by morning, and my left ass cheek has a permanent dent in it from my wallet. Both of my hips bother me and my back is hopeless. My spine isn’t straight and my left shoulder has one thing wrong with it, unlike my right shoulder that has three. My right elbow locks once in a while and my forearms bother me at night. My wrists are ok, except when they aren’t, and all of my fingers have been broken at least twice. My thumb locks up on my left hand, and my left pinkie hasn’t been straight since 1981. My neck creaks when I turn my head. My left ear always feels clogged, and my right ear always is. My nose has been broken about a dozen times, and my hair has seen better days. Don’t get me started on my eyes, and the scrambled mess that’s inside my head is a story in and of itself.

How am I doing?

How am I really doing? Oh, just fine.
Fine? Really? Fine?
Fine is a four letter word that is nothing more than a cover up. It’s a flagrant foul. It’s a penalty flag deep in the secondary. It’s not what I asked you, and some days it’s all I have to offer.

Oh how a lot of us wish we could have that kiddish outlook that we once possessed. Yes, it’s but a fleeting moment behind us, or so it seems, and yes, it has supplied us with wonderment and splendor amidst everything else that makes up who we are, who we have become and who we used to be.

I long for those days of old when we felt an urge and jumped all over it. Riding a bike, grabbing a basketball, running out through the field, heading back up through the field with a fishing pole in one hand, and a string of fish in the other.

What the hell happened to me? What the hell happened to you? What on earth happened to us?

I saw an old school friend at a local store several years ago. I initially walked right by him, did a double take, and walked back with a smile on my face and a hand reached out for a shake. We talked for a couple minutes ago, and as we reminisced, I felt a little uncomfortable. I kept wanting to ask him why he looked so old. I felt the question on the tip of my tongue, but my better judgment kept my query in check.

What did happen to him? Why did he look so old. The current year put him around 48 years old, but man did he ever look like he was sixty-five to me. I suppose one of the things that kept me from asking him the question was fear of what I looked like myself. With the oncoming gray hair these past twenty years, had I aged as much as he had? I know for sure that some days it felt like it.

By the way, that list of aches and pains at the beginning of this post isn’t real, or is it?

Oh how I wish I had the childish exuberance. I wish I had the hop in a younger step. I wish I had a tank full of energy, and a head full of the wonder of a boy. I suppose some days I still do think like a kid, after all, rarely a day goes by when I don’t pull up a memory or two from my childhood.

I remember a couple weeks ago. My son, grandson, wife and I headed down to the coast to celebrate a birthday. We stopped at Mount View high school in Knox, where there is a large playground. I slowly swung my cane side to side and strolled over to the swings and had a seat while I listened to my son and his son have a go at the yard full of equipment. As I sat and listened, it seemed only a short time ago that I was running after my son while he took in all the magic of a playground. I also remembered how short a time it felt that a young boy ran across a playground in Little Falls. Hands in the air, feet flying over the ground and a heart beating as fast as a heart can beat.

Can you tell what I’m thinking right now? I’ll give you a hint.

It includes some busted toes, a crooked nose and a big smile.

Thanks for stopping by, and have yourself a grand old night.

dp

 

2016 10 16 October Morn October 16, 2016

Is this really October the 16th? Is summer but a fleeting memory of warmer smiles? Was that a flock of Canada geese I heard fly overhead the other day? Did I really have to scrape the windshield yesterday morning?

Holy crap! It’s autumn!

It’s been a while since my last entry, and I apologize for that. I have been busy with school, and when I tell you that this semester has been one challenge after another, well, please believe me. I also ask you to believe me when I say that with each challenge, there have been hidden treasures of opportunity that I have found, worked through and learned from. A kaleidoscope of higher learning, higher education, higher, um, stuff that I have managed to gather and collect and carefully place along the shelf of life. My life. Don’t ask, because I’m not giving any of it away. I might be persuaded to lend you some, but I will be wanting it back.

Should we expect the return of something that we pay forward? I think not, but don’t let that stop you from keeping on paying it forward. Things come to us unannounced and cleverly disguised, so don’t ever think that if you keep on paying it forward, you’re holding bin will run empty, because it won’t, it doesn’t and it never will.

Man am I getting swayed by brainwaves.

Here I am, there you are, and here we go. My son and grandson are coming over today. We’re heading to the coast, to Belfast, our favorite place in the world, or at least Maine. There’s a little hole in the wall Chinese take out place that we love to visit. My taste buds are frolicking with my mind already just thinking about it.

I went to the white cane and guide dog walk in Augusta yesterday. Bill Green was there from the famed Channel 6 show, and overall, the day was filled with smiles and laughter and canes and paws. My sixth event in as many years, and I’m already looking forward to year 7. I’d like to thank Debbie’s mom, Kay, who assisted me around the two block walk. I’d gladly follow you anywhere kiddo, and thank you very much for the wonderful conversation on a beautiful October morning.

Well, that’s about it. I’ll try to check in more frequently, but we’ll see what happens.

I thank you all again for stopping by, and I also hope the rest of October brings you tons of wonderful autumn memories that will keep you warm through the winter months.

Take care, and God bless the lot of ya’s.

dp

 

2016 09 05 My Partner in Rhyme September 5, 2016

My Partner in Rhyme

September has come and summer is still hanging on. The nights are getting a little cooler, and the humidity seems to have dropped these past few days. I haven’t felt that surge of autumn fill my senses yet, but I’m sure it won’t be long now.

Last month I had another opportunity to fill my senses with another form of inspiration. I had the opportunity to join pens with a wonderful writer from just west of the Great Lakes. This Wisconsin writer has been a huge source of inspiration for me, as well as many other writers of a writing group that I belong to.

You can find some amazing works of writing skills at our group’s web address.

http://www.magnets and ladders.org

This collection of writers is comprised of a host of talent from sea to shining sea, and I am very fortunate for having crossed paths with them all.

Ok, I got off track. What I was originally talking about was my collaborative partner who I joined with last month to write a poem. This is our second poem we have written together, and like the experience of our first collaborative poem last summer, this poem was another milestone in my short writing career.

Our first collaboration, entitled “My Partner in Rhyme”, can also be found at the Magnets and Ladders link listed earlier in this post.

My partner’s name is Alice Massa, and she has shown me more about writing these past few years than I ever imagined.

I thank you Alice for the experience, for your friendship, Inspiration, guidance and for the unique lessons of life that you hand down without even knowing.

I’d also like to thank you all for stopping by, and I hope your summer supplied you with some spectacular memories.

Oh ya, I almost forgot! The poem! Grin

The poem is born from a discussion that Alice and I were having about rainbows. I had told her how as a gardener, while watering I used to occasionally spray the hose away from the late afternoon sun to form a rainbow. Before I knew it, Alice and I had a five stanza writing piece staring back at us. Her ability to jump on a creative opportunity amazes me, and I am grateful for the experience. The poem is styled in a unique format. It is constructed of a style that resembles how limericks are designed, five lines per stanza, with the first and fifth rhyming. It is also built on five stanzas, which is something that Alice and I agreed on. Alice has also posted this poem, along with a collection of wonderful personal essays, on her amazing blog site, which you can find at the following address:

http://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com

Thank you Alice for helping me become a better writer, and for being my Partner in Rhyme.

I would like to dedicate this poem to my son Matt, and his son, my grandson Jack. You two guys continue to put the hop in my step.

And away we go!

***

Rainbows Rising
by Alice Jane-Marie Massa and Deon Patrick Lyons

Little child, little child, do you want to make a rainbow?
Do you want to know how?
Just wait for a sunny day;
then, with your back toward the sun,
let the water from the hose arc into a powerful flow.

Little child, little child, let the wonder begin.
Red, orange and yellow, stretching awake inside an Autumn morn.
Green and blue, splashing atop an ocean so deep.
Indigo and violet, snuggling down into a bed of iris.
Replace those aimless frowns with colorful grins.

Can your tiny hand touch the rainbow?
Which color can you hold?
Can you feel the mist of wonder
where sunlight breaks through a raindrop?
Can you wave toward the arc of indigo?

Open your eyes to an Irish tale.
Gaze out across a clovered field.
Stand on your toes and stretch towards the clouds.
Fill your pockets with a fistful of magic.
Chart a course as your rainbow sets sail.

Little child, little child, why are you standing there akimbo?
Ah, you look just like your grandpa,
glistening like his shining star;
but your glance is so afar. Naptime!
Little child, little child, sleep well and dream a rainbow.

 

2016 08 28 Old Friends August 28, 2016

Old friends.

Just the sound of it starts your mind wandering. Just the mention of it grabs hold of you and pulls you back through time, to a place that will always exist, a place that will always lend an emotion or two, a place that truly belongs to you, and no one else.

Hearing things, seeing things and remembering certain things can take you back to a place that’s full of magic, but it can sometimes take you to a place that’s not very friendly. I myself would rather go back to those memories that bring a smile to my face.

Being able to talk to friends from your earlier days is such a gift. School days are a great source for reminiscing, and the summer? Oh my, how the recollections start to spin around with just the mention of the unforgettable summer seasons. Some of my fondest thoughts can be found along a summer breeze. It doesn’t really seem like that long ago, but oh how the time flies when it’s surrounded with one thing after another that keeps your mind working inside out with recalling and going over again and again those special moments that build your factory full of experiences.

I had a dream a year or so ago about working in a warehouse when I was in my late teen, early adult years. Of course, it was a warehouse full of tires, as I worked shipping and receiving for a decade before moving up to a regional sales rep.

Anyway, there I was, roaming in and out through the aisles of packed and stacked pneumatics when all of a sudden, the aisle was full of school aged kids who were sitting and standing. While walking down through the aisle, I noticed a girl sitting on the floor, and she was staring up at me. I instantly realized who she was, and was totally floored with emotions. Her name is, or was Wanda Eldridge, and I hadn’t seen or thought of her since my own 14 year old days in New Hampshire.

She looked exactly as I remembered. Her eyes, her skin tone, her hair, her smile, everything! It was incredible! She was the girlfriend of my best friend Jeff, and like I said, I hadn’t thought of her since those days of Hood Junior High in Derry.

I woke up from that dream with her face burned in my mind. I never was ever attracted to her. I never really knew her too well, other than talking to her a few times when she was with Jeff, but for some reason, there she was, and I couldn’t get her face out of my mind for the next day or two.

Our minds have cleverly carved out their nooks and crannies and stored away file after file of our experiences, and this particular one, this dream that pulled up something, someone I hadn’t thought of for over forty years was just another example of how some of our old friends, some of our old acquaintances can firmly take their place in our memories, for all eternity, or so it seems.

Where the hell am I going with this post? I’m afraid I don’t really know how to answer that question, other than to try and show you how amazing friends are. Their impact, their ingredients of character, their ability to grab a place marker and firmly take their position in our lives. Between family and friends, it’s fairly plain to see that our ability to cherish those things that are important to us is one of the true gifts that we should never overlook.

Now then, let’s see who we can remember tonight.

Have a great evening, and even though you might not try to reflect on your past too often, have faith that your mind will always be able to do the work for you, without you even knowing it.

dp

 

2016 07 30 A Littler Me July 30, 2016

What would I say to a littler me? What would I say to a young boy with eyes as wide as the skies? What would I tell him about the world that lay in front of him, edging him on? How could I admire him, inspire him, praise him, thank him for bringing such life into my life?

 

This young boy, with such an eager and inquisitive nature had so much potential. He had desires, passions, questions, and yes, he had many wondrous ways that were unique to him. He laughed a lot, cried a little, frowned and smiled, shrugged his shoulders and raised his gaze towards a future that belonged to no one but him. He asked about things he didn’t understand, reached for things that he wanted to hold, jumped up onto the next step, traversed an obstacle or two, and dashed towards the finish line as quick as a cricket. He learned from his mother, was taught by his father, inspired by his brothers and sisters, admired his aunts and uncles, wrote on the chalk board, sat on a bus, stood in line, kneeled and prayed, helped his little brother up and ran after his older sisters. He idolized his older brother with a furied frenzy. He wished he could play baseball like Carl Yastrzemski, basketball like Willis Reed, ski like Jean – Claude Killy and have a come from behind kick like Dave Wottle. He dreamt of a roaring crowd, a monster that was catching up, an endless field to run through, a wild toboggan ride, pitching a no hitter, floating to earth and jumping to the moon.

 

What could I say to this inquisitive young lad with a sparkle in his eye? Would I be able to explain where he is headed? Would I be able to show him all of the miles ahead of him? Could I teach him something he wouldn’t learn on his own? Should I warn him of the hurdles, the obstacles, the fears, the worries that would spin around in his mind? Should I guide him to the left, or veer him to the right?

 

This young boy was the biggest part of me. He stared at a line of stepping stones, just waiting for a chance. He was all of my questions, all of my wonders, all of my joy and all of my hope. He was all of the things that would lead me to here, and although he didn’t know it, he was the creator of a life full of lasting memories.

 

What do you tell a boy like this, like me? What could I learn from him today? What questions would I ask this little man?

 

So often I have thought back and pictured him in my mind. I wonder how he came to be in a slice of life that defined him. I rack my mind some times, trying to remember all that I can about him. The Red Ball Jets, the Super Balls, the Hot Wheels, the cards in the spokes, knee patched jeans, the nights staring out the bedroom window, the Christmas Eves, the cuts, scrapes and bruises, the smiles on his face and the tears in his eyes. I search for hidden gems of his existence, but I usually fall back upon those same memories that have kept me company through my years.

 

Amazed and enlightened, I keep moving forward, as did he. With each step, I remember a young boy on a sting ray bike, pedaling up a hill and down the road of life. The momentum of this energetic little fellow found a way through a world that challenged him, taught him, amazed and bestowed upon him a talent known only to him.

 

What would he say to me today? If he could look ahead into his life, what would he think? Would he be happy with where I am? Would he be thankful that he wound up here with me? Could he begin to understand all of the choices he made? That I made? That we made? Would he be as proud of me as I am of him?

 

This young boy, this young man is all that I am made of. I wouldn’t be, couldn’t be me without the gifts that he possessed. I owe him everything that I am, and as I move on, I can only emulate the heart and soul of this young, courageous savior of my soul, for it is a powerful soul indeed.

 

What would I say to a littler me?

 

I would kneel down, clutch his shoulders, look into his eyes, and while trying to fight back a surge of emotions I would only be able to say one thing.

 

Thank you.