The Gray Two-Story Across From the Park

 

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (May, 1997)

 

A Home Becomes a House Again:

The last boxes of this and that have been laid to rest
in quiet scattered solitude on the hardwood floor,
awaiting only a lift from the mayflower man.

The hallway closet where our coats used to rest,
now stripped of the garb it stored by the door,
mourns the transfer of treasures to a moving van.

Deserted hooks and naked nails hug walls undressed;
relieved of their duties, bearing burdens no more,
they loiter and litter each bland plaster span.

The gas range fumes at the loss of its pilot blue heat,
its burners absent their fire, missing their light;
tempered door open,  oven breathing at last.

Powerless, the fridge sits stripped and silent in defeat;
fortress in white –  lifeline by day, beacon by night,
provider, safe harbor, its presents now passed.

As comforting sanctuary,  as kindred retreat,
that kitchen oasis offered exile from flight
to we who sought refuge when things moved too fast.

A building now stands where our home used to be,
abandoned forever by my family.
Devoid of domain and dignity,
a rest stop in time, soon to be
nothing more than a memory.

A House Becomes A Home Again:

U-Haul unloaded at the the first light of dawn.
Contents in place before morning is gone.
Kids running barefoot across the lawn.
Parents inside with curtains drawn.
They’ve moved in – and we’ve moved on.

Makes them hither, makes us yon.

Makes us … yawn.

 

50+ years later - no longer gray
( Aging nicely, some 50 years later,  but no longer gray,  no  longer a home,  nor even a house – now simply a soulless, sterile structure, i.e., office space.)

 

 

Maybe Just One Thing

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (February, 1996)

I have had few good days of late.

At age 47, I have discovered that my dreams will not be realized.

Such discovery was not sudden. I have known for some time that I have been losing control of my life. Those around me define it as simply a mid-life crisis, an awakening of sorts, to the debilitating effects of time and spent emotion. This categorization of my condition is not accurate. I wish it were that simple, but it is not. Nothing is simple when you’re tired and alone at age 47. Tired and alone and beaten down by too many bad days.

So often I’ve heard people say they would decline an opportunity for a “do over”, to be able to go back in time and live their life over again.

To accept that opportunity would be to reject one’s past and present. Such rejection would be an admission of dissatisfaction, of poor choices, of failure. It would be a sign of weakness of mind and spirit. It would betray family and friends, It would be indefensible and unacceptable. It would strain the soul and hurt the heart.

I, however, would indeed go back again. Without hesitation or trepidation. And I would do a thousand things differently.

Or maybe just one thing.

I would have seeded and nurtured friendships. My privacy and independence are false treasures I have guarded too closely through the years. To a fault, and to an obsession. Consequently, as I grew older (though upon reflection not wiser), I spent more and more time speculating, imagining, daydreaming, fantasizing  – always sure that there would eventually be time for fulfillment of every wish, every goal, every aspiration.

Time moves slowly for the young – a blessing unrecognized by those who count the days until they reached milestones of age 12, then 16, then 18, and finally 21. Milestones of graduation, marriage, parenthood and the meaning of life.

I counted those days. Such a fool. I want them back. Each of them. All of them.

I would stop dreaming, and start living.

But now it’s too late for me, so I’ll settle for a  wish fulfilled. For a friend – one that will help make tomorrow a good day.

A friend that will care for me and about me. One that will be glad that I’m here, and will notice when I’m not. One that will leave purple and yellow flowers at my marker.

One that is real – in a world where nothing else is.

 

 

uyg7v7yv

 

view from a hole

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Wayne Michael DeHart    (September, 1996)

i look up and around as i slip down,
the light of tranquility fading

i scratch and i claw till my fingers are raw
losing my grip and my strength

i try hard to think as i continue to sink
to a depth too many have known

i curse my plight but continue to fight,
though my resistance mournfully wanes

my limbs are now weak and i can hardly speak
as the cylinder narrows its gauge

my will has expired and I’m so hopelessly tired
that i pray for the bottom to rise

but my descent is not done  (it’s just really begun)
so i resolve to shut down my mind

it’s my way to cope and cling to the hope
that my fall is really a stumble

and that i’ll awaken again
to a smile from a friend

illuminating . . .

this darkest of views
from this deepest of holes

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Annie’s Time

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Wayne Michael DeHart   (June, 1997)

Paul and Annie met and fell in love their Senior year in high school.

Well, not exactly.

Better said, it was in their last year of school. It was a different time, and Senior year was never a reality for either of them. Not even in the distance. Not even close. Reasons were many, and choices were few.

And while they did indeed meet in whatever final grade that was, the love came later.

For two, maybe a few, years they were simply best friends. She helped him work on his first old car, and he helped her eat the first cookies she ever made all by herself. She told him he was cute, and he told her she was cuter. He was shy and she was not, but the conversation never lagged and neither did the flirting. They kissed a few times, innocently and briefly, each time feeling both giddy and guilty, and retreating quickly to the safety zone of friends just passing time together.

Their first grown-up actual date was on Saturday, December 6, 1941. The now-maturing young couple went to the Gardens Theater to see Myrna Loy in “Love Crazy” and laughed with everyone else from beginning to end, because that’s what people did at that point in time.  The Great Depression was finally behind those in the theater that night, and with new storm clouds on the horizon, it seemed somehow the right time to lighten up, even when the goofy one-liners and forced frivolity of the film weren’t really that funny. It was like school recess, after taking a test, when the kids know there will be another one awaiting them after the bell rings, calling them back inside to their pencils. Just enjoy the fifteen minutes of freedom. And now, just enjoy the movie.

Later, the significance of the movie’s title was lost on them as they gulped down ice cream sundaes at Keller’s Restaurant on Main Street. He gulped faster, and she offered him the rest of hers. As he would later learn, it was the first of many such gestures to come from this girl who was getting cuter, in his eyes, by the day.

Annie’s “be-home-by” time was fast approaching and it became a quiet ride home for the preoccupied teens. At her door, the goodnight kiss was different than those they had shared as boy-girl companions. It lasted longer and led to another. They lingered. Until the porch light flickered twice, that is, sending Annie inside and Paul to the cold seat of his car.

Their innocence was lost – not that night, but the very next day. Along with that of millions of other young Americans. Lost forever in a hellish two hours of fire and fury at a faraway, strange-sounding place called Pearl Harbor.

Just two months later, at 17, Paul joined the Navy and was soon deployed to the Solomon Islands aboard the battleship U.S.S. Washington. His world became a whirlwind of waters off Guadalcanal, the Philippine Sea, the Leyte Gulf, then Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Annie’s world became one of loneliness and health problems, worry and wondering. After his ship limped into Puget Sound for repairs in the Spring of 1944, Paul unexpectedly arrived home on leave, surprising and then marrying Annie on April 13th in a hastily-arranged small ceremony at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Manchester, NH.

Back into warfare in the Pacific just two months later, his world returned to chaos and hers to frailty – the burdens of both worlds acutely heightened and intensified by their new but separated roles of husband and wife. It felt like forever, but it was just eighteen months after their nuptials that Paul was headed home for good, discharge papers in hand. Other than partial hearing loss, he was coming back from  the war unscathed. Physically, at least.

She met his train at South Station in Boston on October 1st, 1945, only a month after the surrender of Japan, marking the abrupt and unofficial end of the war.  Upon seeing him standing there, searching her out in the crowd, she started crying crazy tears. She had imagined on the trip down that she would go flying into his arms, kissing him madly, just like in a scene from one of the movies she had seen back home at The Gardens. Instead, she hesitated, experiencing a brief moment of inexplicable awkwardness, as if the moment may not be real. Then he saw her too. They met halfway, but there was no jumping into outstretched arms. Instead, they locked eyes in silence, hers still glistening from the tears.

He told her he loved her…
she said she loved him back.

Then they embraced, and held on long and tight.

They didn’t let go until Annie’s heart stopped beating on a rainy April night in 1994, just six days short of their 50th wedding anniversary.  The childless couple had made no special plans for their marital milestone. They joked about renting an old black-and-white comedy movie and making home-made sundaes (she would share hers with him, of course), and getting Annie into bed before her curfew. Some things, however,  were just not meant to be, and we don’t have to understand why.

Their love – the one between the cute guy and cuter girl – was genuine and ran deep. Potholes and curves in their long road were not infrequent of course, they never are. Still, they lived their love each day in at least some small way. Sometimes with words, sometimes with actions, but always with purpose and pride.

As Annie’s health declined, they greeted each new sunrise by praying silently together, another subtle concession she gladly made to accommodate his self-consciousness. He had not prayed aloud since he left the Navy, not even at church, which she always attended and he only sometimes did. So praying in silence it was. And it mattered not to her, as long as they were doing it together. Those were precious moments for Annie, who remembered the countless nights she had prayed for Paul’s safe return from the war.

His days since her passing all run together and he seldom leaves the small home where he still feels her presence in every room. He sees her smile in the kitchen , feels her warmth in the bedroom, hears her stories out on the porch.

Paul loved Annie and Annie loved Paul. Neither ever wavered. But then, you somehow already knew that.

Wait. Did I say Paul “loved” Annie?  No, Paul LOVES Annie.

He tells her so, out loud, every morning in his prayers.

And in the stillness of the dawn …
she says she loves him back.

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Paul & Annie
Thank you both for all you did.  You live forever in my heart. Hope all is well on the other side of the rainbow …