a love of a lifetime

This is a true story:

The usual long line at my small town market had me grumpy and impatient.

Three checkout registers with only one open on an early Sunday afternoon seemed ludicrous, and the line of ten people waiting only proved my point. To this day, I am grateful another register didn’t open despite my eighth position in line. If it had I would have missed a love of a lifetime.

No, not my own; she was home anxiously awaiting the two onions and dozen eggs I cradled in my arm.

The love I speak of stood in line ahead of me. They were an elderly couple, easily in their early eighties. I didn’t really take notice of them until they were loading their cart full of groceries onto the conveyor belt. Both maneuvered and removed their many items out of the cart with complete efficiency. Not with speed, that adjective left their arsenal a long time ago. It was replaced with neither reaching for the same item nor occupying the other’s space or bumping into the other throughout the process.

My attention lost all other distractions when the cashier began to ring their items through.

The old man shuffled his feet at a snail’s pace around his wife to circle behind the counter; he took up his post beside the cashier as though he had worked there his entire life. He bagged their tomatoes carefully. The eggs were gently nestled on top. He was considerate with each and every item and its placement.

As he settled into the flow of his task, he addressed his wife across the counter, “Will you be needing any help carrying these bags out to your car today?” His eyes twinkled and a small smile creased one side of his mouth.

His wife, without missing a beat, replied, “Not today. I have a strong, capable man with me.”

His eyes smiled. His courting persisted. “What about getting the bags from your car to the house? If you need assistance, I could come home with you.” He winked.

“What time do you get off work?” She breathed. She patted her hair as though to make sure it was properly in place for this moment.

He stopped for a brief moment and rested his hands upon the final bag. “You are my last customer of the day.”

“Well then,” she handed the money to the teenage cashier who clearly had no idea what was going on, “let me show you where I am parked.”

The old man shuffled back out from behind the counter and slowly put the bags into the cart. His wife patiently waited and watched. When he approached, she stepped aside to let him push the cart. Striding beside him, she looped her arm through his.

Not quite out of earshot, I heard her say, “I hope you don’t do this for all your customers…”

I smiled uncontrollably as I watched them make their way to the automatic doors. Later, reminiscing in my car, my eyes welled. They could have met a year ago. They could have been married for seventy years. I don’t know.

I do know this: two souls, meant to find each other in this great big world, somehow did and I caught a fleeting glimpse of a love of a lifetime.

old-people-holding-hands-260x186

 

 

Advertisements

Happy Holidays Everyone!

48368037_10218413314350517_3875977061428363264_n

I sincerely appreciate all the support I’ve received since embarking on this dream of mine in 2016. My fans are dedicated and simply the best!

Here’s to 2019 and the strong possibility of a fourth novel from me by the end of it,

-P

til next time

Long time no see, right?

It isn’t as if I’ve had nothing to say. Promise. My thoughts and the inability to hold them in has plagued me for years. That hasn’t changed in the last few months, my free time and the level of life’s demands have. Cat & Mouse launched in early May (which sparked a flurry of promotional agenda items). Work and family needs once again superseded the call to write as well.

Which brings me to where I am now.

pause button

I am sixteen thousand words in on a young adult novel and rethinking everything I’ve written thus far. I want the characters to leap off the page and into minds both young and old. I want the story to be like nothing that’s been done; I want it to be so entertaining you want to read it again the moment the last page is turned. And it isn’t there yet. Rather than finish the novel and go back to make hard changes, I am trying a new method; the next few months will be spent taking down the sheet rock and tearing up the carpet to reveal the studded framework. It is solid but the things I’ve put around it aren’t up to my standards. I want it to be a house I can live in and live with.

renovate

Brent Smith of Shinedown wisely sings “life’s too short to run it like a race” and I wholeheartedly agree. That’s the other place I am coming from. In the past, I have rushed to get the next book out in spite of exhaustion and other outside things pulling me this way and that. That is changing. I’m three books in, and with my feet under me, I am comfortable in saying the book (tentatively titled Highly Unlikely) will come when it is ready and not a second before.

Quotefancy-1714814-3840x2160

My growing fan base may not be happy with me and I get that. I understand it. And I accept it. In the end, we live on through the ones we leave behind and the love we shared with them. I hold that idea of legacy above all else. My two teenage boys, for whom Highly Unlikely is being written, still want me in their lives in spite of their age. They still want a hug before I leave and a kiss goodnight. Writing a novel that the world enjoys feeds my ego and makes me smile. Their kiss and hug warms my soul.

I can’t promise the blogs will come in greater frequency. I can’t promise my next book will be available by May of 2019. I can promise you that I’m still writing and that I’m enjoying life and all it has to offer. I promise to see you soon…

Til next time,

-P

undivided attention

The holidays are upon us. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus or something else entirely, this time of year genuinely boils down to people who are more a little more forgiving, parents who are a little more patient or drivers who are more apt to let someone cut in front of them. It’s the season where our human spirit shines brightest and our hearts open widest.

holdiay list

A tumultuous 2017 carried heinous acts of violence, blatant bigotry, a pulling back the veil on women being subjected to sexism and demoralized by men, and a nation embroiled in an impossible schism over its leader. People rioted. Innocent people were shot for no reason. The once seemingly strong-seamed nation unraveled before our eyes and frayed at every edge; we were split by anything and everything, more than I can ever remember.

epluribus unum

On August 2, 1909, the Lincoln penny was introduced with the Latin phrase: E Pluribus Unum. This translates to “out of many, one”.  The President’s likeness that garnished the front of that penny once said, “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” He went on to say, in that same quote, “I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.” We are at a crossroads and the time is now.

Special interests from all sides fold their arms unwilling to budge their position. We argue for argues-sake as though four years old and refuse to admit we might be wrong. All media, social and otherwise, went from a past of reporting facts and things that happened to beguiling us with opinions (there used to be a special section of the newspaper set aside and clearly labeled for that) and reporting what might happen however infinitesimal the chance.

Each of us reads and hears a different convoluted message. Each of us has to trudge through the news swamp, buried in more information than you could ever possibly consume, to discern the news that might not only be relevant but accurate. Yes, we are swimming in a growing ocean of news, reporters who have a twenty-four hour void to fill each day and do so with anything they can get their hands on, and we are drowning in it. Thrashing to stay above enough to breathe, the attention we want to give to the important things, gets buried in the dark depths and lost to our frantic kicking.

drowning

Stepping down from my soapbox, my message is simple: the larger the group of people gathered, the harder it is to come to a consensus. We are a blend of races, creeds, economic statuses, backgrounds and interests… And that’s what makes us great. It is also what can divide us with little or no effort.

Which brings me back to my opening statement. Despite our differences, no matter how little we see eye to eye, there is one thing that can pull us back together: we are all human beings. That is our umbrella in this teeming storm.

The calendar (and my wallet) demands we cannot have this holiday year ’round. Time cites we must wait another eleven and a half months before it can find its way back into our lives. But in our hearts we can hold the torch. How we greet those who bring us to anger, how we respond to their opposing view on a topic you hold near and dear, and how we part ways with those unable to reach a consensus with – that we can carry with us everyday.

unity

And to those bent on separating us and confusing us with fictitious facts? To those, we together as human beings, must give our undivided attention.

Happy Holidays Everyone.

-P

I still kiss my father goodbye

In just a few days I will be forty-four years old. It’s true. I double checked my birth certificate to be sure. The gray hairs are slowly winning the war over the dark resistance on my head and in my beard. Aging is a part of life, right? A rite of passage we all must take that beats the alternative. Acceptance of that opens the internal gates to eternal serenity. Or some crap like that. The jury is still out for me and a verdict doesn’t appear likely for some time; too many jurors want a say in the outcome.

aging

I blinked and somehow my father is approaching seventy-six. It doesn’t seem possible. My once steadfast view of his immortality now shows cracks from reality’s persistent hammer and chisel. He’s valiantly holding on with every ounce of Italian determination he can muster. Regardless, the fight he’s facing we all face and no one gets out alive.

Throughout my forty-four years, I’ve always kissed my father goodbye. Sometimes on the cheek after a hug but usually on the lips. It has never been strange or unnatural but innately welcomed. He has left my house and been backing out of the driveway and I’ve rushed out the door to catch him upon cognizance that I missed our kiss. It isn’t out of habit or ritual. I genuinely feel a love for him that is deep and powerful. He’s been there selflessly for me since I can remember. As time passes, the fact that one day our kiss will be a final goodbye weighs on me more and more often.

father-and-son-2258681_960_720

Our practice of open affection has propagated to my own sons and I am forever grateful for it. I hope they insist on never missing that goodbye as I have with my father. There is a comfort there you simply can’t find anywhere else, a next level bond that recurrently goes away as we get older for no reason.

So where am I going with all of this? Glad you asked!

For more than fifteen years my father has battled Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Every year might be his last. I know that and I think on some level he does as well. I religiously kissed him goodbye before his diagnosis. I faithfully continue to do so to this day. There is no real way to make up for lost time other than to begin at the moment of recognition.

hourglass

Benjamin Franklin said “Lost time is never found again” and that fact comes into focus as we get older and we wake up each day on the back nine of our expected lives. And that is my point. Time waits for no one. It marches on and apathetically carries our mortality on its back with every step. I’m not a relationship expert. I’m just a man who sees the importance of showing love when you feel it, of saying it when want to and doing it without recourse.

The prophet Elisha said “let me kiss my father and mother goodbye and then I will come with you.” I’ll never know which kiss I give my father will truly be a goodbye kiss. I continue at each and every parting not because it might be our last but because I want to build a memory of all those kisses to carry with me in memory of him when he is gone. It is paramount that he know how much he meant to me and how much I loved him while he was here. Standing at a pulpit and looking over a coffin doesn’t let the person inside know how you felt.

Show them now.

-P