My sister Mary Ann came to me with an idea just before my 18th birthday. My birthday gift from her would be a completely arranged blind date. All I had to do was be willing. My sister and her boyfriend would arrange for this blind date to be a double date to the circus that was playing in the Metro area. According to their plan, I would not meet my date until he arrived at my home on my eighteenth birthday.
I am now embarrassed to admit that my questions about my blind date were about as shallow as a could be. You see these questions were purely based on his physical appearance and had little to do with his intellect or nature.
“What does he look like?” I wanted to know.
“He is tall and very good looking.” my sister explained.
Now this sounded promising to me. I had just purchased a pair of 3 suede high heels with a metal stud décor, and I was relived to find out he was a tall guy so I could easily wear my new shoes without towering over my date’s head. Looking back at this philosophy and qualifying a date by his height or my shoes seems ridiculous to me now, but at that time it was paramount.
“How tall?” I asked her.
She surprised me when she said that he was 6’5” tall. Yep, this could be good because I could easily wear those new high heels. And this was important because I also had a new wool vest and hot pants combination outfit. The hotpants were wool plaid and they matched to my new high heeled shoes. I am so sorry that no photograph seems to exist of me in this smoking hot outfit.
Funny the things we choose to remember through the decades, but those hot pants and those shoes were one of my finest “drop the mic” looks. My polished look had also been achieved by wearing curlers to bed the night before so that my long blond hair would wave with body and shine.
My parents were there to get the door when the doorbell rang on the evening of our date. My sister and her date greeted him into our home. All I had to do was walk down the stairs and meet him in the foyer. Now, as I imagined myself to be somewhat of a super model in the ultimate outfit, I tried to make my descent down the stairs a picture-perfect moment. I wanted to put all my theater and drama training into good use. Everyone was waiting for me at the bottom of the staircase. That also means that everyone was there to see me trip on the last step and make a small falling motion. I did not fall down completely because my blind date caught me as he broke my fall with his arms outstretched.
When I looked at him, he was smiling down at me. He looked like a Greek god. He was handsome beyond my wildest dreams. He had perfect dark hair and the brownest of eyes. His physique was athletic and trim. And he was certainly tall. Even in my suede heels I only came to his shoulder height. He released me from his arms and warmly joked, “Wow, I guess you really fell for me.”
The date was perfect. We enjoyed the circus and all the fun things that could accompany such a date including vendor snack foods. I don’t even remember if we did much talking. I had literally fallen in love with him at first sight. I was giddy with joy. Could this possibly be real?
There were more dates in our future and getting to know him only secured my belief that I was truly in love with the perfect person.
We were young. I still had college ahead of me and he would join the Air Force. We made it through those years writing long love letters and saving money for long distance calls. Our love flourished. He professed his love for me, and I was absolutely gone on him. I traveled to Andrews Air Force Base and he traveled to my college for visits as often as we could arrange it.
About 5 years after we met, we planned our wedding. Jack became my husband. We had a magical honeymoon to Stratford, Ontario. We ate in fancy restaurants and attended the Shakespeare theater there. We held hands, kissed, and walked through parks and the city. I was charmed. For years after that honeymoon, we would recall moments of joyfulness that we shared.
The years progressed and our first child arrived nearly nine years after we had first met. Our daughter arrived and we became a family of our own. We were such good friends and parents.
As our daughter grew, I also found a dream job working in management for a large Ann Arbor hotel. My career was going strong and so it seemed a good time for Jack to go to school on the GI bill and complete college too.
We started to argue. We argued a lot. I don’t even know exactly what those fights were about anymore. We were not perfect, he was not perfect, and I was not perfect.
19 years after we first met, we had a second child, our son. All of what I wanted was in my happy orbit. My beautiful children, my handsome husband, and a lovely house. I would make sure that the arguing stopped. I made it my career to try and be pleasing and lighthearted when we were together. I tried not to engage when he criticized me. I was sure it would all be fine.
But it came undone. I just had not noticed that he had become increasingly unhappy. When he told me that the marriage was over it was a complete shock. I was sucker punched, the rug was pulled out from me, I hit a brick wall and the idea of divorce was a surprise to me. How could this have happened to us?
Later, I would learn that love is not always enough to keep a marriage together. My love was not enough.
I was terrified about becoming a single mother to a toddler and a teenager. I begged him. I cried and pleaded. And he left me. He left the family home with our children. We divorced. Before long at all I heard that he had married his co-worker.
I still loved him. He was married to someone else.
Years have gone by. There were some new love affairs after my marriage, but I never remarried. When I think of him, I still recall that deep love we once shared so easily and my heart is sad that we did not make it. I wish him well. I am ok. This February of 2021, I will turn 67 years old. It was 49 years ago that I fell for him. I do not regret that love story. I also no longer regret that he left because I have had a full vibrant life. I just wish that I could still wear those smokin’ hotpants and I do regret having no photo of that youthful woman I once was as my eyes looked up with adoration to that man who stole my heart.
When George Waltour Hess was born on December 10, 1811, in Crawford, Pennsylvania, his father, William, was 33 and his mother, Mary, was 36. He married Mary Ann Higbee on April 21, 1836. They had 12 children in 20 years. He died on February 26, 1899, in Berrien, Michigan, having lived a long life of 87 years, and was buried in Berrien, Michigan.
Here is a timeline of his life:
1811 Age 0 Birth •10 December 1811Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, United States
1813 Age 1 Death of Parent drowned while traveling in a canoe on the Kiskimenitas River William Hess 1779–1813 • LWYR-MC7
1836 Age 24 Marriage 21 Apr 1836 Crawford, Ohio, United States Mary Ann Higbee 1813–1874 • LZ2G-HRP
1837 Age 25 Birth of Child 26 March 1837 Crawford, Ohio, United States Mary Jane Hess1837–1908 • KPQR-QF4
came to Michigan in 1837 according to the History of Berrien County , page 993 – they came because his wife’s parents had already moved to Michigan and wanted them to come. They came thru Chicago and then in a covered wagon to St. Joseph, MI.
1838 Age 26 Birth of Child 11Mar1838Benton Twp, Berren, Mich Eliza J. Hess 1838–1905 • KHY2-6KG
1839 Age 27 Birth of Child 6 June 1839Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States William James Hess1839–1915 • K8FF-YSJ
1840 Age 28 Residence • Residence St Joseph, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1840 Age 28 Birth of Child 29 JAN 1840 Clarissa Hess1840–1854 • KCCY-6F4
1842 Age 30 Birth of Child1842,, Ohio Mary E. Hess1842–Deceased • MGZL-NZC
1842 Age 30Birth of Child 30 MAR 1842Milburg,Berrien,MichiganAmarantha F Hess1842–1903 • KPQR-363
1843 Age 31 Birth of Child 09 OCT 1843 Milburg,Berrien,Michigan Sophronia Hess1843–1919 • LCV3-LGQ
1844 Age 32 Birth of Child1844,, Ohio George Hess1844–Deceased • MJDT-N71
1846 Age 34 Birth of Child 22 February 1846Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States Ionia E. Hess1846–1913 • KZRL-YWF
1848 Age 36 Birth of Child 21 APR 1848Milburg,,Michigan Lewellyn Hess1848–1905 • LHJH-NN8
1850 Age 38 Residence • Berrien county, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1850 Age 38 Birth of Child 12 May 1850Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States Juan James Hess1850–1929 • LWY5-1KN
1853 Age 41Birth of Child19 June 1853 Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States Alta Vene Hess1853–1940 • KPQR-34W
1854 Age 42 Death of Child1854 Clarissa Hess1840–1854 • KCCY-6F4
1856 Age 44 Birth of Child 30 SEP 1856 Eugene Hess1856–1922 • L48M-PR5
1857 Age 45 Birth of Child18 OCT 1857 Benton, Berrien, Michigan, USA Anabel Hess1857–1943 • KLQK-B3L
1860 Age 48 Residence • Benton Township, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1864 Age 52 Death of Parent 29 March 1864 Perryville, Hamilton, Ohio, United States Mary Judith Waltour1779–1864 • L782-D4Q
1870 Age 58 Residence • Benton Charter Township, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1874 Age 62 Death of Spouse 24 March 1874Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States Mary Ann Higbee1813–1874 • LZ2G-HRP
1880 Age 68 Residence • Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1899 Age 87 Death • 1 Source • 26 February 1899 Millburg, Berrien, Michigan, United States
1899 Age 87 Burial • 1 Source • Burial 28 FEB 1899 Millburg Cemetery, Benton, Berrien, Michigan, USA
He served as the justice of the peace for several years. He was fluent in German.
George was by nature a carpenter and also being of German descent, was able to speak and interpret German. He served as a justice of the peace in the area and was “an old school Democrat.” He provided legal services to the German settlement. He was elected to office on a Democratic ticket in a Republican township- showing his popularity.
In historical accounts it is mentioned that George was “neat in appearance” and was able to do logging without getting his clothing “dirty.” Wow- a super great life skill! All kidding aside, it does seem that he was considered a respectable and kind man and community leader. I never heard stories from my family about Mary Ann or George, so all of my knowledge has come from searching Ancestry and the web and of course the entire Hess-Higbee compilation by Babcock.
Linda was 40 years old and had 2 children. The recent divorce meant that Linda was the only adult living in the household. This was a new situation for her to find herself in. Up until this time, she had lived with her parents or her husband. The adjustment to single parenting was going fairly well for Linda. But the evenings loomed with loneliness and her fears.
Every evening, as Linda climbed into her bed, she would hear sounds. Until she lived as the sole adult, she had simply given no thought to the simple noises a house could make. Her parents and then her husband had been charged with the responsibility to keep everyone safe. Now, as Linda lay in her bed alone, the radiators banged in such a way that one could easily interpret the noise as a person trying to pry open a door! Creak, tap, tap. The tree that needed trimming sometimes banged against the windowpanes sounded like a villain pounding against the door demanding entry. Pound, thump, pound.
Linda supposed that her fears were normal for an adult who needed to secure the safety of herself and her 2 children. She was just not used to being at such a level of responsibility. She loved her children and prayed for their safety and she felt that she needed to stay vigilant here in these dark hours before slumber set in.
Her neighbor friend Bill was a Federal Marshall. Bill had given her a defense plan after her divorce. He advised her to keep a pair of large men’s boots near the front door. This would supposedly fake out a burglar who upon seeing the boots would believe that she was not single and vulnerable. The work boots would suggest a rugged, tough guy lived in this house. Linda had purchased the perfect boots at the local thrift store and placed them on the front doormat. Bill also suggested that a can of wasp spray would be a good defense tool. In the event of an intruder, Linda could kneel beside her bed and spray a good distance and with great accuracy towards the eyes of the intruder.
So, Linda went to sleep with her cell phone handy and a can of wasp spray always nearby.
Over a period of months, Linda began to calm herself. The radiator and the tree taps were simply background noises. Linda also began to have confidence in her handling of life as a single Mom and even laughed at her early fears and trepidations of nighttime dangers.
It was a frosty February evening when she heard a noise that caused her adrenaline to spike. Linda reached for her wasp spray and her phone. The noise had definitely been the sound of breaking glass. Linda analyzed where the noise had originated. It had clearly been the room just below her bedroom. It had come from the family room. This was also the only room in the house with a large glass door wall.
It was odd that at this serious threat she never thought of calling 9-1-1. It was probably because every other noise had always been a false alert. This was different. Someone had broken the glass downstairs. As Linda crept down the upstairs hallway, she could see that the children were snug in their beds and sound asleep. Linda knew her floor well, she knew where to avoid the creaking boards. Her bare feet traveled noiselessly along the hallway to the staircase.
There, at the top of the stairs, she paused waiting to see if she could hear anyone walking around downstairs. Instead, she heard again the noise of breaking glass. She could hear it and could envision the tiny pieces of glass that surely now covered her family room floor. Still, she heard no footsteps. Linda creeped with great stealth down the stairs with the wasp spray at the ready.
Ever so carefully Linda came closer to the scene of the crime. If only she had left some boots by that back entry to her home.
In one dramatic gesture Linda reached the light wall switch. She flipped it on with fearless determination. She would face down her aggressor. The wasp spray was uncapped, and her finger was ready to press down the aerosol spray button.
That is when she heard the noise again and saw the source. Pumpkin, the new orange kitten, was walking the treble cleft part of the piano keyboard. Ping, ping, ting, ting, ping. The same sound as Linda had heard before. A piano song that sounded just like breaking glass.
Linda nearly collapsed with relief. She lowered her wasp spray weapon.
Minnie was born on 9 January 1827 in the Posen Province, of Prussia. At the time of her birth, her father, Martin Ponto, was 34, and her mother, Rosalia Schäffler, was also 34.
Minnie married Johann Christoph Krüger. He later changed his name to John Grayer. Minnie’s husband, John Grayer, was my 2nd great grandfather. I know about the name change from Krüger to Grayer. My mother told me that there had been some type of family division and some of the Krüger family members adopted a new name of Grayer.
Minnie was not the 1st wife of John Grayer. He had been married originally to Johanne Friedrike Berndt. John and this first wife Johanne had 6 children together. 4 of those children died as infants/toddlers. Sadly, Johanne would die on 28 March 1845 right after the birth of her son Gottlieb.
John Grayer did not waste time finding Minnie as his second wife. His first wife died in March of 1845, and he married Minnie on 12 May 1845. When Minnie married John she was a mere 18 years old. He was 38 years old.
Minnie and John had 9 children. 8 of those children were born in Prussia and the 9th child was born in the United States.
When Minnie and John left to emigrate to America they brought the 8 children who had been born in Prussia and they also brought along John’s son, Gottlieb, from his previous marriage.
They sailed to American on a masted ship called the Reinhard. They were in 2nd class. This was still above the class called steerage. My cousin, Linda S., wrote a great history of our family and speaks to the fact that in 2nd class they may have had beds/bunks whereas the families in steerage where in abysmal conditions.
The trip to America took 7 weeks. They arrived in NYC on 29 November 1864. This was horrific timing. America was in the Civil War and just a few days before their arrival there had been a Southern plot to burn down buildings and hotels in NYC.
After arriving in America, they made their way to Illinois. Later, the family moved to Washtenaw County in Michigan.
Minnie’s husband, John Grayer, died at the age of 69 in 1875. Because of the age difference between them, this would have made Minnie 48 years old at the time of his death. In the same year that John passed away, Minnie remarried. Her second husband was Christian Schmidt. She did not have children with this second husband. This second husband only lived 4 days after the death of Minnie in 1898. They had been living at 703 N. 5th Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.
Gloria opened the photo album from last summer. Her birthday party had been on the beach front of her small cottage situated on Lake Huron. Right now, she was especially grateful for the photo book because there would not be a family gathering this year for her birthday during the Corona Virus pandemic. This year, she would have a quiet birthday by herself. It was considered too dangerous for her family to make the trip. She had assured them that she would be fine and would look forward to their phone calls. “Don’t send presents this year.” She said. “We will all have a big party when this is over.”
The photos from her birthday party last year showed her family in a circle of chairs outside on the sandy beach. Gloria’s chair was resplendent with ribbons and a birthday banner. Gloria was pictured with a funny cone shaped birthday hat and a big smile filling her face. The sound of the gentle water lapping against the shore and the laughter of her family gave a better music than any stereo system. They had all commented about what a perfect day it was. That August 19th, 2019. Later that day, they would have a bonfire, but first they would have birthday cake on the beach, and she would open her gifts.
Gloria laughed when she looked at the photos of her gifts. Her sons and her daughters-in-law had purchased her a large George Forman grill for her. What a hoot! Gloria had the tiniest cottage and absolutely no counter or pantry space at all. Still, they seemed so proud of themselves. Gloria clapped her hands in a feigned delight and told them, “It is perfect, I can’t wait to use it and I will have you all over for some b-b-q.”
The next photo showed Gloria holding up a pastel green polar fleece shirt in front of her body. Her daughter,who had given it to her, had remarked, “Mom, now you won’t have to keep your old flannel shirt. This should be lovely on you. I thought you would like the color.” In fact, green was Gloria’s favorite color but her favorite shirt would still be the over sized flannel shirt that had been her husband’s. She felt comforted when she was wrapped inside the soft cotton of that shirt now worn through in some spots. It was her memory shirt.
“I do love the color.” Gloria said as she touched the new polar fleece garment. “Thank you everyone for these beautiful gifts, I sure am lucky to have this wonderful family.”
The next 3 photos in the album were so precious to Gloria she smiled from the memory of having received a perfectly selected gift from her grandson Dennis.
She noticed that these three photos were in the right viewing order and almost made a video of the moment. In the first photo, Dennis faced his grandmother with his little hands held behind his back. His smile was broad and excited. In the second photo of this series, Gloria is reaching her hands out to Dennis to receive the gift from him and her smile was just as broad and her excitement just as much as his. In the third photo, Gloria is caught clutching her hands to her heart with tear rimmed eyes as she looked at this perfect gift she had just received from her grandson.
Gloria had taught Dennis a love of nature from rock talk. Gloria’s grandson had lived in Gloria’s cottage home with his parents when he was very little. “Rock talk,” Gloria had said was “from rocking Dennis every night whilst she told him story after story about the wonders to be found along the sandy shores. Treasures await us everywhere,” she had whispered to him every bedtime. “We will find a treasure tomorrow,” she would promise as his eyes closed in slumber.
As a toddler, Dennis had held his grandmother’s hand while they beach combed. Her garden had some of the spoils of these adventures. Among those were gnarled pieces of drift wood, a feather tied to a string and hanging from a tree branch, some old abandoned sand shovels stuck into sand piles, and even an old row boat dragged into the garden that had now rusted and became their special place to play that they were pirates.
Last summer, when Dennis had visited, Gloria simply had spent her time sitting in a beach chair watching his adventures as he ran into the waves, or along the shores by himself. He always promised to stay in her view.
She put the photo album to the side. She would look through the rest of the photos later. Right now, she wanted to hold that gift again. She walked to her kitchen windowsill and picked it up. Such a precious gift. It fit perfectly into the palm of her aged hand. It felt right there.
It was a small smooth rock. No one else would ever know or experience the joy of that stone. How lucky she was that she had received a gift so perfect for her.
Gloria clutched it against her old flannel shirt. “Happy Birthday to me.” Gloria said and she really meant it. And that was August 19th, 2020. It was the year Gloria turned 70 during a global pandemic. It was also the year that she learned there was more than one way to define “rock talk.” For certainly the rock was talking to her sense of love. Her spirits were rising. Her love was lifting her up. She was content. Tomorrow, she would walk on the sand and look for treasure.
Randy was on his 4th date with Carey. He really liked her, and he hoped she would like his choices for the evening he had planned for them. After all, he had listened carefully to Carey on their previous date and he had made mental notes about her preferences for dining choices and types of activities.
And so, it was, that on a Friday night Randy arrived at Carey’s apartment to pick her up and drive her to begin the date at a deli with vegan options. When they finished dining, he drove straight over to the County Park and the hiking trails there.
Randy was clever enough to make the date romantic by announcing that he would leave his cell phone in the car. He told her that he wanted to give her his full attention. Randy had never been at this park and was not generally known for his sense of direction. Still, he figured how hard could it be to hike around a park.
Randy enjoyed Carey’s brilliant conversations and found it easy to be relaxed and be himself with her. His normal shyness was simply gone, and he felt an easy joy and comfort in her presence. Carey pointed out mushrooms, birds, and warned him of low branches. Randy had never had much outdoor nature experience, but it was quickly becoming his favorite activity and he wanted to learn everything from this attractive date.
And so, the time passed. And so more time passed. Randy simply paid no attention to the dimming light until Carey brought it to mind when she said, “Randy, this should be fun, we should be able to see the sunset together.”
Good grief, Randy was startled. He had no idea where they would see the sunset as he had no idea as to where they were and no idea which direction was west. In fact, he started to realize that he was lost. He was hopelessly lost in the County Park, but he did not want to alarm Carey.
Randy realized that this lost persons emergency might cause them to have to end up in the park in the complete dark of night. He began to worry about how a person spent a night in the outdoors. If only he had gone to Boy Scouts. Was there wildlife in this wooded park? He wondered. Perhaps there were coyotes. And Randy then began to think about any knowledge he might have on coyotes and how to fend them off. “Bears!” he thought to himself. “Oh my God, there could be bears!”
If only he knew where his Jeep was!
“Randy?” Carey asked, “Are you o.k.? You look worried.”
Randy had to punt. He quickly replied with a false bravado, “I’m fine, just wondering if you know the best place to watch the sunset.”
Carey pointed to the ridge ahead and then spoke, “Yes, I know this area. There is a good spot just up this path. We can sit right there and enjoy the whole view.” And as she said this the sky began to change to a beautiful shade of pink. Carey looked so happy. Was it his imagination or was she glowing?
Randy was grateful that they had spent some quality time together but, he was also aware that this would surely be the very last date invitation she would accept from a loser like him. If only he had just taken her out bowling.
The ridge appeared and it was complete with a fallen tree limb to lean against. Randy sat next to Carey hoping to make the next of the few precious moments that were left before he had to admit their plight. He promised himself not to cause her fear by telling her about lurking wild creatures that might stalk them soon.
Randy finally lifted his eyes off his hands clenched in his lap to the sky unfolding just over the ridge. Then, the miracle appeared. For Randy, the sky was parting, the angels were singing, the world was explosive with joy because just at the bottom of the ridge was the parking lot and Randy’s Jeep was parked right there! “Hallelujah,” Randy thought and held up a quite prayer of joy. By agreeing to watch a sunset, he had redeemed himself. Now, there was a possibility of getting that 5th date with Carey and next time he would take her bowling.
Randy put his arm around Carey and settled into watching his first sunset. Well, he had seen hundreds of sunsets, but he had never really seen one. This sunset was absurdly beautiful. He had no camera, but he took to memory the quickly changing shades of illumination being drawn across the sky. It was glorious. He glanced back at Carey and much to his amazement, she was looking right at him and then she planted a kiss on his lips.
“Wow,” Randy said. “I really like you Carey, and that amazing kiss!”
Carey smiled at him and said, “I have never been with any man so excited about a sunset. When you looked over the ridge, your expression was so joyous. Your magnificent reaction was contagious.”
Randy decided right then that some secrets are worth keeping. He never would reveal that his glory moment was at discovering the parking lot and seeing his Jeep. Randy also decided right then and there to always bring his phone and to make sure it was loaded with a compass app and an app for hiking trails. It was all going to be o.k. After all, bowling should be a safe bet for that next date with his splendid new friend Carey.
Their small argument started on a Tuesday morning. Mary Lou and Hank had been married for 38 years and they loved each other dearly. They rarely had a cross word. But during their seclusion in the midst of the Corona virus pandemic, they recently had found themselves snapping at each other over the slightest provocation. Annoyance was mounting.
Mary Lou asked him, “Do you want more coffee?” It was her way to make up.
“Nope.” He said gruffly and then crossed his arms over this chest to indicate he was not ready for the argument to be over quite yet. He had a right to feel upset. After all, this was at least the 10th time that Mary Lou had made a rude comment about his habit of watching old game show reruns.
Hank got up to grab the coffee pot himself in a rather dramatic way aiming to show her that he was the martyred one who had to make all the sacrifices.
He started to talk. “There is nothing else to do now. NOTHING! Besides, I’m not the one who opened the front door!” he said in a voice that was loud enough to surprise even him.
“Oh, here we go again.” Mary Lou retorted and then went back to sipping her coffee in a way designed to look peaceful and unruffled. Her composure made Hank even more upset. He knew this was a ridiculous argument, but he could not help himself. The truth was it just felt better for him to be arguing than their routine of nothingness.
“I can’t golf, I can’t go to the swim club, there are no sports games to attend, I am done with this!” He was of course referring to the fact that they were very much sheltered in their home during the corona virus.
“Uh-huh,” Mary Lou said without looking up from her cell phone screen.
“What do you want to do today…nothing?” He demanded.
“I’m just going to enjoy my coffee. It looks like it will be nice outside today.” Mary Lou said while she purposefully tried to stay even keeled and calm. You might think this made her an angel, but her motives were not so pure. She knew that Hank could not stand her staying calm during a tiff. She knew that she was getting the best of this argument.
“Well, what about the door?” He snapped.
Mary Lou knew exactly what he was talking about. Hank was a good man. Hank was a loving husband, but Hank was also very obsessed with the front door that Mary Lou had rushed to open on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight. She said she was inviting the new year in. She could not wait for 2020 to launch she had said. Good riddance to 2019 and another year of political divides and an impeachment of the President. On that New Year’s evening as they celebrated together, they had toasted with their glasses and laughed as Hank then proceeded to open the back door to give the boot to 2019. The old year out the back door and the new year in the front door.
But the gloom of 2020 was unbearable. The world felt like it was falling apart and here they were in July 2020 spending a lovely summer day inside having a ridiculous argument over New Year’s Eve and old TV game shows. 129 days of isolation and it was wearing on him.
Hank pouted for nearly 2 hours. He paced, he looked miserable and when he finally made his way over to the reclining chair, he sat and put his face in his hands and sighed loudly.
Mary Lou felt herself softening. After all, this was just a man who always knew what to do and how to take care of everything and now he was lost in the despair that was surrounding them and filling the world stage.
“Do you want to watch an old game show?” Mary Lou asked as she refilled his coffee cup and brought him a muffin. Mary Lou normally would not concede to watching TV game shows, but she knew that is how the fight started and she could easily end it by putting up with one silly old show.
“OK” he said and then he said, “Thanks for the muffin.”
They had been together long enough to know the fight was over.
“What show did you find?” Mary Lou asked him.
“Oh, it is called Let’s Make a Deal.” He was smiling.
When the TV emcee came on the screen, he looked at the contestant and confirmed that they would open door #2 to see if the grand prize was waiting.
Mary Lou was going to give Hank a bit of her mind about picking a show about doors. But when she saw Hank’s face light up with that crooked little half smile, she just felt happy. He was delighted with this inane form of entertainment.
“Hank, I’m sorry I opened the door to 2020.” She said softly. “I should have kept the dead bolt locked that night.”
“I’m sorry for how I just behaved. This is hard for me.” When he said this, he did not even look at her. It was a struggle when he asked, “Are we going to be o.k.?” He turned and waited for her answer.
She just smiled and gave a little nod of her head because he had already turned back to the game show and was laughing loudly at the bad choice the contestant had made. “I feel your pain buddy.” Hank shouted to the TV guest.
Later that night, Mary Lou and Hank got a text message that their niece had just given birth to a healthy baby girl. 2020 might be a year of a world pandemic, but it was also the year of birth and love. Covid was not going to get the last word on everything. And because hope springs eternal, Hank went to bed dreaming about watching more game shows soon.
Mary Lou was the first to admit she was eccentric. Some of the things she routinely experienced were considered impossible, unbelievable, and as some would say they were downright strange thoughts with no basis in reality. She was an odd ball. She was not an artist even though that was the general assumption that people had made of her. But she was extremely well regarded in prestigious art circles. When she was published, she laid claim to the title ‘world renowned premier art critic.’
Society accepted Mary Lou’s mysterious ways because her insights and opinions on valuable art creations were legendary. Her memory for various artists and their paintings astounded even world-class leading art authorities. If asked about a painting, she could describe it in a way that was almost intimate. The various colors, styles, subjects, and themes were masterfully described. There was something beyond that too. There was some way in which you could say she just knew the painting. She saw a painting and she experienced the painting. She knew them in such an intimate way that her reflections were more heightened than the artist’s own perceptions about their paintings.
Mary Lou knew why she had this talent and why she had been able to establish this level of authority. She knew, but she dared not tell a soul why she had this talent.
Mary Lou did, however, end up telling me about her hidden insight because she could recognize that I was in possession of the same ability.
This is where I should introduce myself. My name is Claire. I am a single senior citizen who has loved the visual arts since childhood. I am not famous like Mary Lou and I have never publicly critiqued any painting or artist. Instead, I have a habit of going to flea markets and secondhand stores where I rummage through various paintings and prints. I also surf the net and explore paintings with various themes.
Are you wondering if Mary Lou and I are women with extra sensory perception? ESP is thought of as receiving information from what is sensed rather than felt through our physical senses. I do not know if that definition exactly fits the talent that Mary Lou and I have. Maybe thousands of people have our skill but they have all remained quiet about it for fear of being shamed or given a label of strange, odd, and a little touched in the head.
Now that I am an old woman, I have decided to explain the gift that I have and that Mary Lou has mastered because it might open a door for others like us to come forward and have discussions and work in concert to give a more bountiful vibrancy to the art pieces they encounter.
And because I think this will open a door for others to immerse themselves more fully into the visual arts, I will speak now and ask that as I tell you this secret you remain quiet and perhaps close your eyes and open your minds. Prepare. I will now reveal to you the secret of being a great art critic. This should open a door for you, or perhaps you are already gifted with this talent.
First, imagine any painting that comes to your recall. Next, walk into it. Yes, that is the pure secret to the gift. If you walk into a painting you check it’s textures, see if the shadows are in the right place, picture the subject as a first hand observer, and walk through the painted landscapes or open an old wooden door. Stay in the painting. Touch the garments and the grass. See if the artist has captured the light playing on the water. Then continue to concentrate and see yourself there inside the painting. Do not judge, just observe. Turn your head, look up and down, look for secrets, look for meanings, examine your feelings and emotions. Stay inside the painting until you are gradually ready to leave. The memory of that painting and all of it’s particulars will remain with you forever.
You see, the gift that I possess is the ability to be there. To be in the painting. Maybe, I have opened a door so that you can walk into a painting too. Just be there.
The summer night sky was sparkled with stars and a bright full moon. The little girl was seated in the backseat of her grandfather’s Chevy station wagon as they traveled the dirt roads towards his home. It was special for her to be out this late and it made her feel almost like an 8-year-old instead of the mere 7-year-old she was.
“Grandpa, I think the moon is following our car.” She made the declaration with great and serious consideration.
“Hmm,” he replied and then continued, “What makes you think that the moon is following us?”
She became more animated. “So, every time you make a turn in the road, I can still see the moon right there. It has to be following us otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see it when we turned those corners.” And when she explained this to her grandfather, she felt even a wee bit older still.
The old man adjusted the rear-view mirror a bit to glimpse his lovely granddaughter. He felt again the joy of grand parenting. He loved being let into her innocent childish thoughts, so he replied to her comment with a challenge. “Should we take the long way home and make a lot of turns and really check out your theory?”
“Oh yes Grandpa” she was thrilled.
The old man veered about and made many turns so his beloved granddaughter could continue to test her moon theory.
“Grandpa, it’s working. It is still following our car.” She exclaimed and then asked, “Do you think there is a man in the moon, Grandpa?”
“Well, I don’t know about that. What I can tell you is that the moon has always been a good friend to me. I call this friend Luna. And, I think Luna can be your friend too.”
“Luna” she said the word with some reverence, and she was delighted to know that the moon could be her friend. “Grandpa, does Luna ever talk to you?”
He gave a serious reply, “Oh, not in the usual way. But Luna does listen, and she sends a light out for our path. In fact, when I was in the great war, I talked to Luna right above the decks of our Navy cruiser right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.”
“Oh Wow!” she exclaimed and again thought to herself what a super grandfather she had. She had seen the pictures of him in his sailor’s uniform and remembered the impressive photos with the big machine gun ports. She would have to remember to ask him to show her the photos again.
The Chevy station wagon neared the old man’s home.
“Grandpa look your house is right here and Luna followed us the whole way. She even got here a little ahead of us.”
Once they were in the driveway, he waited for her to get out of the car and then he took her small hand in his. The moon was indeed bright this evening. The breezes were warm.
“Grandpa, can we just look at Luna for a while?” she implored.
“Pumpkin let us do something else. OK?” he replied.
“What, what else should we do Grandpa? Should we talk to Luna?” she wanted to know.
“Nope, turn around and let Luna be at your back.” He answered.
“Grandpa, that is funny. You are the one who told me we don’t have eyes in the back of our heads.” And again, she felt quite mature.
“Look.” he said. “Look at the tops of the pines. Do you see it? The moon beams fall right along the tops of each pine. Look all around you and carefully. Can you see Luna shining on any other objects that we usually do not pay much attention to in the light of day? This is what it means to see things in a different light. It really is one of the best lessons Luna taught me.”
“I do see it, I do!” she replied. And then she told her grandfather the words he loved the most. “I love you so big.” When she said it, she held out her little arms wide to each side.
“I love you to the Moon and back” he told her.
“Grandpa, did you mean you love me to the Luna and back?” Then she smiled broadly, and the old man could barely hold all the love he had in his heart.