Celebrating

Posted in On Tthe Road on June 23rd, 2011 by MadDog
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Today is Eunie’s birthday. She would have been sixty-seven. That is very young according to my way of thinking and today’s standards. The significance of this day was upon our minds as we went about our tasks in Grace’s office this morning. I was playing vintage Eagles songs on Eunie’s old Toshiba laptop computer as I answered emails. Grace was cleaning out a too-full closet, surrounded by memorabilia and nearly forgotten works of art. Yesterday and this morning we had talked of making this a day to bring back sweet memories of a woman we both loved. It was to be a time of celebration.

I wanted to make this a singular day in the short, choppy history of this, my online diary. As I sat there listening to the words of Peaceful Easy Feeling Grace came to me with a small packet of greeting cards. She told me that she had been saving them until she saw Eunie again. She had sent them to Madang for Eunie’s birthday last year, but they were, for reasons known only to God and the Papua New Guinea Royal Postal Service, returned to her noted as undeliverable. One card was marked with a sticky note, “For Eunie”. Another was marked “For Arny to give to Eunie”. I did not know that my day was about to be put on hold for a while.

Grace’s message to Eunie was, “When we take time to dream we discover the many windows to our soul.” The image on the card and the message were pure Grace:

What started as a playmate relationship at the age of four grew into a friendship which was not defeated even by death. On the day after Eunie died Grace wrote on Eunie’s Facebook wall nine messages. I saw them for the first time today. I am going to write them here, because it is fitting that a lifetime of friendship be acknowledged by witnesses:

I need to say this: It took me until just before she was married to realize she was “Beautiful”. But, her incredible blue eyes could command the world. I guess I took her for granted as kids. We laughed, cried, used our imaginations and explored the truths of childhood and adolescence.

We have been woven together in Divine Sequence – in and out of experiences – loss & success, ecstasy & tragedy. She was never surprised at my worst, but knew my capacity for excellence.

She is a “woman’s woman” – nurturing, observing, listening, shaping, kind and gentle – and strong, logical, intelligent, assertive and focused.

I have always admired her ability to set a course and empower those around her to move to the task ahead, Gentle and kind, but no nonsense, with genuine appreciation for help.

She sensed which things were good for this world and those things which are not. She had the courage to act accordingly in both behavior and speech.

I share, with many, the fact that my life was and is better for knowing Eunie. I do not believe our fabric is gone, there is still more weaving to do. Just her form.

But, I will soulfully miss that form. It is not easy NOT to hear that voice and laugh and direct council.

On this earth we have lived with “Seek yea the kingdom of God” and “Love one another” as absolutes. Not a bad way to live. Maybe the only joyful way.

Let all of us who appreciate and love Eunie join hands. We can encircle this earth and encase it with much needed love.

If there is such a thing as truly unconditional love, I believe that it existed between Grace and Eunie. Each of them experienced all of the good and bad which life offers. Each of them survived and was made stronger. Neither of them allowed their friendship to succumb to the handicap of separation. Through the years I heard of Grace so often that I sometimes felt that she was a next-door neighbor. When communication became slow Eunie would worry. “I have to call Grace. Something is wrong”, she would say. I was privileged to experience a similar depth of friendship with Grace for the better part of my life. Shortly after meeting Eunie and falling in love with her I met Grace and understood why Eunie always spoke of her with affection.

Yesterday it was hotter than the hubs of Hades in Sedona. “It’s a dry heat.”, they say. Well, it is dry and HOT. I can’t say that I’m bothered by it, having lived in Madang for so long. On most days I don’t really notice it. On the way back from Cottonwood we stopped at the Javelina Leap Vineyard so that I could sample some Arizona wines. I got this lovely shot of Grace under the unusually quirky signage:

The wine was rather ordinary. The company was exceptional.

In case you’re wondering what an Arizona vineyard might look like, here is a sample:

On the way back to Grace’s house we had to contend with the pesky Sedona landscape. It’s In Your Face all the time in Sedona:

In the evening the sky lit up. Grace said that she saw an “h” up there for “heaven”. I call it a stretch, but I give her an A for imagination:

I mentioned another card in the packet. It was the one which interrupted my day. On the card marked “For Arny to give to Eunie” are these words:

You are the rhythm
In my music
You are the drumbeat
Of my heart

I came unglued. I had the healthiest cry since Eunie died.

Happy birthday, Eunie. Thank you, Grace, for a lifetime of friendship.

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Chance Encounters

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 13th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s Saturday here – Oh Yeah – Dive Day!  It’s entirely possible that as you read this I will be communing with the fish under twenty or thirty metres of warm salt water. Don’t you wish you were here?

Okay, now I’m going to go all dark. Never mind. It will pass. I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here  on scrambled repeat for about three hours now, laughing and leaking from my eyes and, yes, whistling – I’m an accomplished whistler.

Here’s what I feel like:

I like working out my feelings with images.

One ant is anticipatory, eager, communicative. Its antennae reach out, seek. “Come back.” it implores. The other ant is withdrawn, hiding. It’s catching the next “big jet airplane” to elsewhere. “Where are you going?”

“Away.”

The bee visits the flower. It doesn’t live there. Does the flower feel abandoned when the bee has had its fill of nectar and pollen and moves on?Ridiculous!

What is all this nonsense?

I spend so much time telling you what I love about living here in Madang. I extol the blessings of the expatriate life-style. I praise the freedom, the nearly total absence of oppressing authority. I have much to say about what I love. Now let me tell you what I hate.

Loss.

Here I have enjoyed more wonderful friendships than I ever thought were possible in a lifetime. I have had friends who would spill their blood for me if it were necessary, and mine for them – friends who would not let me suffer need without thought of satisfying it. I’ve had confidants who knew me better, far better, than any therapist. Friends who laughed and cried with me with true simpatico.  Where are they now?

Gone.

It’s the nature of this place that people come and go. It’s a transient paradise. Few can manage it forever. It is too uncertain, too intense, too fraught with passion. It is the nature of this place for bonds to be profound, transcending the trivialities of a more urbane life. It’s a rugged place. A place of rawness and animal strength. Fights are common. Reconciliations are tender and tearful.

It’s the goings that hurt.

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.

I would last no time at all here without my good woman, my mate who consoles me when other cherished bonds are broken. I’ve seen tough guys cry in each others’ arms when parting for the last time.

Yeah, it’s that kind of place. Partings here tend to be permanent, despite promises to “keep in touch”. For many, the experiences of two or three years are best left to ferment. The less cherished fades. Only the sweet headiness remains.

The cut needs to be clean.

Blossoms fade, but the yearnings do not. They take on the patina of pressed roses in a diary:I’ve seen those hundred-year-old pressings crumbling between stained pages. Faded and tattered, yet bearing still the faint scent of a beauty that once was.

The approaching and parting. Canoes pass. Greetings are exchanged. Eyebrows flash knowingness:They pass and the moment passes with it.

A gloomy, tepid sunrise greets the next day, empty of promise and full of loss:You learn to tough it out.

So, to any and all of my dear friends of the past:I’ve never blamed anybody for leaving here. It’s a highly impermanent place. I loved you when you were here and I am full of constancy.

Know you are missed.

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