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Bury The Glove ©




A calm silence permeated the parlor. Within the hour it had been overflowing with friends and neighbors coming to pay their final respects, but now there were just a few. The time had come for just the family.

We all took turns saying our goodbyes. We shed tears during those private whispers as we tried to put into words our final thoughts. Dad offered his hand in a gentlemanly fashion to the rest of the family, insisting everyone have one last chance to say their goodbyes before him. His polite gesture surprised no one.

When our time passed, his followed. After forty years together the sight of his final goodbye clearly stood out as the most emotional part of the night. In typical fashion he remained stoic. The same could not be said for the rest of us. For me, I could only let my mind sadly wander to my difficult yesteryears.

*************

Mom opened the door and there I stood, head slightly tilted to hide the obvious. “Lord have mercy! What in the world happened to you?” She caught a glimpse of my first black eye, which for an eight-year-old boy wore like a badge of honor. “Get in here. NOW!” With the tone in her voice I could tell she assumed I had been fighting, and I naturally instigated it.

“Mom, it wasn’t my fault! Sully started it.”

Peering down at me with her hands firmly planted on her hips, she snarled, “And I suppose you were the one who finished it!”

I proceeded to meander through the details of the story, wondering if any of my excuses were going to free me from the eventual punishment soon to be handed down. Through the “ums” and the “ahs” I finally reached the line I had repeated angrily the whole way home, “And that will be the LAST time I ever play with Sully!”

Surprisingly her tone changed. “Now don’t say that! You and Sully have been the best of friends forever. You’re going to have to put this incident behind you, and bury that glove! Just make sure it’s the right glove!” She was right. She was always right.

***********


Mom opened the door and there I stood, head slightly tilted to hide the obvious. “Hey young man. Supper’s almost ready.”

I stormed past her, hiding the anger in my eyes. “I’m not eating!”

Dad quickly followed through the door behind me, barking in my ear. “Good. I’m tired of wasting my money on someone who’s so damn selfish, and lazy. You won’t even lift a finger to help around here.” Each of his words felt like a dagger thrusting deeper, and deeper into an already wounded relationship.

Hours later things settled down a bit, and mom entered my room. I bemoaned, “I’m tired of this crap! He doesn’t even pay attention to the things I do around this place. I swear in two more years I’m out of here, and I’ll never speak to him again!”

“Now stop that. Your dad’s going through some tough times right now. We just have to be patient. I know it’s hard for you, but you have to hang on. You know he loves you; it’s just at times he really struggles to show you. You’ve got to bury that glove before it’s too late. Just make sure it’s the right glove!” She was right. She was always right.


***********

Mom opened the door and there I stood, head slightly tilted to hide the obvious. “Well isn’t this a surpri-.” She paused mid-sentence as she noticed her normally strong son had been crying. “Honey, what’s the matter?” She pandered to me as I silently entered the house, suitcases in both hands. I hurt and she knew it.

“It happened again. I just can’t take it anymore. I’m done.” Although I kept my personal problems close to the vest, somehow she wasn’t surprised that I showed up. “I feel like I made the biggest mistake of my life when I married her, and I just don’t think I can make it work.”

I spent the rest of the evening in close conversation with mom as she imparted her wisdom in between intermittent offerings of comfort and wine. “Son, you and Becky have something truly special, not to mention those three little ones. Don’t throw everything away over a little spat. You can get through this. These are tough times and you just have to hold on tight, and bury that glove. Just make sure it’s the right glove!” I knew she was right. She was always right.


**************


Dad remained kneeling next to the casket for several minutes, whispering an occasional I love you to his wife as he affectionately tended to her needs. Before leaving her side for the last time, he laid a single white glove lovingly into her clasped hands. I could tell the significance of this gesture went unnoticed by the others.

For me, when I saw the glove it crystallized in my memory all of the good things remaining in my life. From the corner of my eye I could see my best friend Sully looking my way as if to say everything would be all right. My wife Becky and our three kids stood close by my side. And of course, my dad. He approached and we embraced for a long moment, and then slowly made our way out of the parlor with the rest of the family.

As I took one final glance back, I felt comforted in knowing mom would remain with me in spirit. She always said we were born wearing two gloves in life: one to hold onto the good memories, and one to hold onto the bad. During our darkest days it is important that we take the glove with the good memories and hold onto it with a grip of stone. The glove with the bad memories should be tossed away and buried for good. Sully, Becky, and my dad would all be out of my life if I hadn’t followed her sage advice. She helped me to hold on with the good glove, while burying the bad. For this I owe her everything.

Obviously mom and dad had gone through their own set of difficult times; we all do. Yet with that one loving gesture he buried all of the bad memories away, permanently sealing them forever. As the years passed he stayed true to mom’s words and only reflected upon the great memories we shared as a family, and maybe a few intimate ones which remained locked in his heart.

I spend a lot of time with my dad now, and we’ve become the best of friends. He often fights through a tinge of sadness as he reflects back upon the time he and I spent at odds with each other. He desperately wishes it never happened, but of course it did. We try not to dwell on the negative past, so I quickly remind him of a familiar retort:

“Dad, don’t worry, I buried that glove a long time ago!”



- Richard Doyle -

 

 

  

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The Parting Gift ©





The comfort of their home welcomed me again. The unmistakable sound of the cellar door hinted of my arrival. From the top of the steps I yelled down, “Grandpa, I’m heeeere!” Grandpa Jim, sometimes known as Pops, had insisted on knowing when I arrived. Anything less than immediate would simply not do. My greeting would always be reciprocated by a distant sound of a power tool coming to a rolling stop, and an enthusiastic “Heyyyy, there’s my Tiger!” Even after 32 years the name “Tiger” never got old.

While waiting for Pops to slowly make his way up the cellar steps, my attention always turned to the plate of cobbler strategically placed on the kitchen counter closest to the cellar door. No doubt Grandma Mim’s way of competing with Pops for that ultimate prize of “Best First Impression”. I, of course, didn’t mind the competition. Soon I found myself engulfed in a bear hug as Grandpa Jim reached the top of the stairs, carrying with him the comforting aroma of flannel and sawdust.

“That’s my boy!” he’d say as we separated from the embrace with a couple of soft pats on my back. He shuffled across the room to his chair. “Walk on over here little fella. I have another clue for you.” I inherited the title “little fella” from my younger days for I had long ago outgrown his smaller frame.

“A clue for me? What a surprise!” I smiled, but undoubtedly he could sense my halfhearted attempt to simply humor him. “Whatcha got for me today old man?”

“Ah, you’ll like this. Today’s clue is a good one. If you can’t guess the answer after this then you really are a sad piece of work.”

Hmmm, a curious line I heard a thousand times. “O.K. Pops swing away.”

“Alrighty. Are you ready?” he asked, as if I hadn’t been ready for this same clue every day for the last 25 years. With full drama he trumpeted, “Your clue is this: Most of the time the gift is abused.” A long pause followed as he mischievously looked up from his chair and smiled awaiting the obligatory answer.

“Gee Pops, I haven’t heard that one before. Hmmm, the gift is abused. You got me on that.” Twenty-five years of the same question. My response seemed as rehearsed as his clue.

“Hah! You give up again? Young man, you’re just not trying hard enough!” He was right. He struggled to his feet and walked over to tousle my hair, reminding me I would certainly figure it out the next time.

We went about the rest of the day in the warmth of each other’s company, talking about nothing, and yet thinking we had solved everything plaguing the world that day. For as long as I can remember we parted ways with a gentle hug; an embrace that years ago engulfed me, but now engulfed him.

In the ensuing weeks, months, and years we repeated the same routine: a familiar greeting, the masculine smell of flannel and sawdust, the exact clue I heard a thousand times, and that ridiculous, unsolvable riddle. There came a day, however, when an eerie silence forever altered our routine. Echoes off the cellar walls became the sole response to my bellow of, “Grandpa, I’m heeeere.” The sound of shuffling feet did not greet me as I patiently awaited his hug while nibbling on a corner piece of cobbler. On this day I couldn’t find Pops anywhere.

I spent the next several hours making phone calls, and finally found myself at the local hospital. Pops fell ill, and he lay quietly in a hospital bed, Grandma Mim close by his side. As I nervously approached he recognized me through his heavy eyes. In a voice grown hoarse from eighty years of use he whispered, “Hey, there’s my Tiger!” Never before had his greeting meant so much to me. He quietly faded to sleep, gently holding the hand of his bride of 62 years.

I spent the remainder of the day with him, watching Mim lovingly hover over him with the care only she could give. It was sad, yet comforting to watch. A few short hours later Grandpa Jim passed away in his sleep, with Mim by his side continuously comforting him even after his final breath.

Pops was gone. A humble man died a peaceful death, and in his passing he left no final riddle, only a silent memory of a great man, and a mystery for which an answer would never be known. We honored Pops’ life a few days later. His three children, nine grandchildren, and hundreds of others came to pay their respects. In a surreal mixture of laughter and tears, we remembered the little things that made Pops unique.

Later in the twilight of the evening I gathered with the rest of the family at his house, sharing precious memories. Out of loving frustration I blurted, “You know it’s just like Pops to leave me forever without an answer to this stupid riddle he’s been asking me for years.” The room paused in momentary silence as my story seemed to capture everyone’s attention amid the previous buzz of splintered conversations. “I mean every time I saw him we went through the same damn routine. He repeated a stupid riddle that had no answer.”

Suddenly the voices reverberated across the room as the other eight grandkids slowly began chiming in. Cousin Matt’s voice rose above the others. “Wait a minute. Are you telling me Pops asked you that stupid riddle over, and over again, every time you saw him? He did the exact thing to me!”

“You’re kidding!” I shouted with a frustrated smile. “That drove me crazy! Most of the time the gift is abused. What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Matt paused. “Whoa! Wait a minute. Are you saying that that was the clue he gave you?”

“Yes! And it absolutely drove me crazy. After years, and years, and years of trying to solve it, I gave up. Did you ever figure it out?”

Puzzled, Matt snorted “No, but here’s a twist for you. That wasn’t the clue he gave me! My clue was ‘When first I received it there seemed like a lot.’ Hell, I could recite that one in my sleep, but I never figured out what it meant!”

The other grandkids started to drone in. Clearly the entire family had fallen prey to Pops’ clever game, and none of the grandkids were immune as each had been given a distinctly separate clue that was solely theirs to solve. With the help of everyone in the room we slowly began dismantling his riddle, and piecing the clues together into one master list. In the process we discovered when the lines were arranged appropriately it resulted in a poem:

I received a gift that I couldn’t return.
The more I used it the more I burned.
There are no directions on how it is used.
And most of the time the gift is abused.
At times it is wasted as I watch it just sit.
But it still grows in value the older I get.
When first I received it there seemed like a lot.
And the more I used it the wiser I got.
I can share it with others, or keep it all mine.

The poem abruptly ended at that point. No ending rhyme; no answer, just a mass of puzzled faces huddled together, staring down at the paper, trying to understand the insanity. Surely we missed something, or more importantly someone. “Who are we missing? Does anyone have another line?” I shouted. Eyes glared around the room as we tried to find the missing clue, while trying to disguise our dumbfounded expressions.

Grandma Mim quietly hovered in the background monitoring the process with a melancholy smile. We laughed at the ridiculous guesses being bantered about, but nothing seemed to make sense. Mim worked her way through the mass of confused relatives and gestured for me to get out of my chair. As she sat down she pulled out an envelope from her flour dusted apron.

“You grandchildren meant everything to your grandpa. He cherished the time he spent with you, and long ago made a commitment to spend as much time as he could with you. Here, he wanted you to have this.”, Her voice trailed off as she tried concealing her sorrow while stoically rising from the chair and walking back to the comfort of her kitchen.

I sat back down and looked around at all of the eyes in disbelief. We sat quietly until Matt finally broke the silence. “Well, what are you waiting for? Open it up!” Everyone quickly agreed. I opened the envelope, and began reading aloud.

Dear family,

If you are reading this, I am sad to say that I am no longer with you. The thought of that brings sorrow to my heart. I’ve always said that life goes by in a blink of an eye, and it’s up to you to live every moment to its fullest. There is nothing more precious to me than the time I spent with each of you.

I know my riddle frustrated you over the years, and for that I apologize. By now you realize you all had to come together to solve it, and for that I do not apologize. My parting gift to you is the final line of your riddle, and an answer to all of your questions. Make this poem as big a part of your lives as it was in mine. It truly is the greatest gift that we can give to each other.

I received a gift that I couldn’t return.
The more I used it the more I burned.
There are no directions on how it is used.
And most of the time the gift is abused.
At times it is wasted as I watch it just sit.
But it still grows in value the older I get.
When first I received it there seemed like a lot.
And the more I used it the wiser I got.
I can share it with others, or keep it all mine.
I wish I had more of this gift called “Time”.


With much love,
Grandpa Jim (a.k.a. “Pops”)

P.S. Thank you for making my time the best of times!

Silence filled the room, broken only by an occasional sniffle, or a brushing away of a silent tear. We now realized the value of Pops priceless gift.

As the years pass I often reflect back on that night, and the words of Grandpa Jim. Our family has committed to continuing his legacy, and cherishing the time we spend with each other, even if it means just sitting around doing nothing; a task Pops taught us how to do quite well.

I keep Grandpa’s poem in my private study as a constant reminder of his parting gift. It has guided me through years of interactions with the people closest to me. When I read his words I can still feel the warmth of his embrace, and the comfort of his flannel shirt. I cherish the time I spend with my family, and I never take for granted how quickly it passes. I often thank Pops for helping me realize the value of the gift we should all cherish: the gift of ‘TIME’.


- Richard Doyle -



 

 

  

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The Seven Wonders ©





The focus on Becky seemed greater than ever, now that her new school classrooms were smaller, thus amplifying her every awkward trait. No longer could she conceal her gawky clothes, frail limbs, and shy demeanor by simply blending into the crowd. As the newest 4th grader in a much smaller town she became a recluse, while every day anticipating that final bell so as to free herself from her self-imposed anguish.

Never a student to overly participate in class, the secrets carried from her old school caused her to retreat deeper into a solitary shell. Mrs. Abbott seemed to be the only person who cared as she constantly called on Becky during class in an effort to draw her from behind her shield, typically to no avail.

The Generals, a group of bullies who thought they ran the 4th grade, made sure Becky remained concealed in her cocoon by snickering every time she spoke. Other kids, Sandy being one of them, never let the Generals affect her. Oh how Becky longed to be like Sandy; strong, popular, and confident.

“Class, let’s quiet down. Take out a pencil to write down your homework assignment.” Mrs. Abbott’s directive was followed by a uniform moan from the class. “We are going to begin studying the Seven Wonders of the World. Your assignment is to write down the Seven Wonders by tomorrow.” Her words were barely audible as the final bell rang and the class began packing for their daily sprint to the exits. “Don’t forget, by tomorrow!”

When Becky got home she immediately dove into her assignment. How easy, she thought, and excitedly began scribbling down her answers without needing to do any research. This assignment was a piece of cake.

The next morning Mrs. Abbott led the group in a rousing rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance, quickly followed by those dreaded words, “Take out your assignments.” Among the shuffling paper, and obligatory 4th grade murmur, Mrs. Abbott said, “Who wants to be the first to answer this question: What are the Seven Wonders of the World?”

With an unexpected “Ooo! Ooo!” Becky franticly raised her hand. Surprised by her enthusiasm, Mrs. Abbott pointed to Becky to answer the question, but was rudely interrupted by one of the Generals shouting out his answer, “The Seven Wonders of the World include the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Panama Canal, …” and he continued with all seven.

Before Mrs. Abbott could explain how he just listed the Seven Modern Wonders, another of the Generals blurted out, “Those aren’t the Seven Wonders! My list includes the Great Wall of China, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Roman Coliseum...” She proceeded to list all seven of the Medieval Wonders.

“That’s not right either!” shouted another student. Clearly, the Generals were now in complete command of Mrs. Abbott’s class as she patiently sat back and watched. “The Seven Wonders include the Egyptian Pyramids, the Statue of Zeus…” and he proceeded to name the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

“O.K. class, are we done yet?” asked Mrs. Abbott. “Surely there can’t be more!”

Becky retreated back into her shell, clasping her hands firmly on her lap, no longer eager to lend her knowledge to the group.

“I have some more!” bellowed another classmate. “I found stuff like the Grand Canyon, Mount Everest, and the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Those, too, are correct! The ones you listed are considered the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The rest of you listed the other categories such as Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Wonders. They’re ALL correct in their own way. Now, without shouting out any answers, is there anybody else who has anything different?”

Silence engulfed the room as the kids glanced around at each other to see if a lonesome hand made a presence. Mrs. Abbott heard a slight crumpling sound as she spied Becky trying to slide her paper on the chair beneath her legs. “Becky, I noticed that you had your hand up earlier, before you were so rudely interrupted.” She threw a stern glare at the Generals. “Which of these lists did you come up with?”

With great hesitation Becky’s paper slowly reappeared on the top of her desk. She gingerly flattened it out. After a slight pause she said, “Um, Mrs. Abbott, I’m not sure I quite understood the homework assignment. I didn’t have any of those on my list.” The snide remarks and snickers came as usual from the Generals.

“Class, knock it off. Becky, I’m assuming you had something written down, is that correct?”

“Um, yes ma’am!”

Not wanting Becky’s initial enthusiasm to go unnoticed, Mrs. Abbott said, “Well I am very much interested in hearing your answers.”

After a long pause, Becky reluctantly lifted her sheet of paper, holding it as if it were a fortress protecting her from the stares, and began reading aloud in a barely audible voice.



'The Seven Wonders of the World"

I wonder how a tiny seed can grow into a giant tree?

I wonder how Lightening Bugs light?

I wonder why parents sometimes leave their children?

I wonder if grown ups get scared like me?

I wonder what it’s like to have a back yard?

I wonder why bad things happen to good people?

I wonder why God let’s innocent people suffer?



Becky’s eyes remained glued to her paper, afraid to look up amid the eerie silence. Not even the Generals made a sound.

“Very profound,” said Mrs. Abbott, “very profound indeed. Thank you Becky. O.K. class, now please pass your papers to the front.” Mrs. Abbott embraced her normal routine, with no further mention of Becky’s response.

Profound was not a word familiar to Becky, although she assumed it couldn’t be good. As the girl seated in front of her reached back and removed the paper from her hands to send it to the front of the class, Becky felt overexposed to the familiar awkward stares of her classmates. She summoned the courage to slowly lift her eyes, and noticed Sandy glancing her way. Sandy, in her normal strong demeanor, gave Becky a comforting smile as if to say “I think you’re O.K.”, then turned back to the front of the class.

Mrs. Abbott graded the papers during the morning reading hours, and passed them back to the students before lunch. Based upon the individual responses of the students, Becky could tell most of the kids did well, with a few finding the need to brag as such. Becky held her breath as Mrs. Abbott approached her with her paper.

Gently the paper floated from Mrs. Abbott’s hands onto her desk, delivered with a wink and a soft smile. Becky could see the red ink at the top and feared the worst. With her heart pounding she focused on Mrs. Abbott’s handwriting. In all my years of teaching I have never been so impressed by a student’s work! A+++!

Becky gasped with excitement as she grabbed the paper and drew it to her chest in a crumpling embrace. She pushed it away to reread it, verifying it wasn’t a mirage. Back to her chest it went as she embraced the graded assignment with eyes focused skyward, and a giant smile, utterly amazed at her huge accomplishment.

In her bliss she noticed Sandy approaching as the lunch bell rang. “It looks like you’ve got some pretty good news there!” Sandy said. “Say, my friends and I were wondering if you’d like to sit with us during lunch today? We think you’ll fit in just fine with us Non-Generals!”

With a sparkle in her eyes, and a shy little shrug of the shoulders, Becky chuckled, “Sure!” As she got up from her desk to join her new friends, she made her way through the neatly aligned desks to the classroom door. Before exiting the room she glanced back and saw Mrs. Abbott pleasantly witnessing Sandy’s kind gesture. With sincere appreciation Becky tossed Mrs. Abbott her own version of a wink and smile, and exited the room, permanently leaving behind her protective shell that was never to be worn again.



- Richard Doyle -


 

 

  

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The Christmas Angel ©








High on the tree
she sat and pondered,
why the Christmas season
was a time of wonder.


A Christmas tree ornament
surely should know
why at this time of year
everyone was aglow.

Under the cover of darkness
she slipped away
to discover the secrets
of Christmas Day.

Surely there was someone
who knew of the reason
why so many people
celebrate the season.






The ornament marched
down through the woods,
and came upon a peddler
selling his goods.

“Excuse me fine sir,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

The peddler smiled
While pulling out money.
“The reason” he said,
“is really quite funny!”

“The people all buy,
in quantities galore.
Christmas is a time
for profits to soar!”



There had to be more
so she went on her way
to search for the meaning
of Christmas Day!






The ornament wandered
up to a group,
singing their songs
on a front porch stoop.

“Excuse me fine folks,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

“Of course we can,
or we wouldn’t be here,
singing our carols,
and spreading good cheer!”

“Christmas is a time
of many rejoices,
but best of all
we show off our voices!”



There had to be more
so she went on her way
to search for the meaning
of Christmas Day!






The ornament spied
a man selling trees.
Blue Spruce, White Pines,
as many as you please.

“Excuse me fine sir,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

He sat and pondered,
and soon thought aloud,
“I sell many trees.”
he said as if proud.

“From miles and miles
they come to buy trees,
so naturally the reason
must be me!”



There had to be more
so she went on her way
to search for the meaning
of Christmas Day!






The ornament giggled
as she entered a store
chock full of candy
from ceiling to floor.

“Excuse me fine lady,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

Behind the store counter
the lady was in awe,
at the Angel’s confusion
even after she saw.

“Why look all around you.
Is this some kind of game?
Christmas is a time
for selling candy canes!”



There had to be more
so she went on her way
to search for the meaning
of Christmas Day!






The ornament spotted
a red suit and cap.
And found herself sitting
on Santa’s lap.

“Excuse me fine sir,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

“Kids all adore me
for I’m jolly and stout!
I bring shiny presents
to kids who don’t pout!”

“But I am just part
of a story book fable.
To find your answer
proceed to the stable!”



She knew there was more
so she went on her way
to search for the meaning
of Christmas Day!





Down to the stable
she made her way,
and found a young Mother
resting in the hay.

“Excuse me fine lady,
can you tell me the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season?”

There was no response.
The lady just stared.
Well, why would Santa
send the ornament down here?

For all of the animals,
shepherds, and kings
were simply statues,
and not living things!



Then suddenly she spied
a wondrous light
beaming from the baby
this Christmas Eve night!





She then heard singing
and looked to the sky.
The Star of David
was dancing on high.

And then she beheld
a magnificent sight.
An angel with wings
had taken to flight.

The ornament watched
as the angel came near.
Much to her surprise
she had no fear.

She gazed at the angel
with wings spread wide,
and in her halo’s reflection
the ornament spied!



“Could it be true?
Can I believe what I see?
Do I have wings
and a halo on me?”







The angel said,
“You are what you see,
and God has a very
special place for thee.”

“Hanging high on the tree
of all who believe
in the birth of the Christ Child
that first Christmas Eve. “

“You’ll serve as a reminder
of this wondrous event.
When Jesus arrived
and what it has meant.”

“As a Christmas Angel
you now know the reason
why so many people
celebrate this season!”


And from that day forward
the ornament would say
“God bless the reason
for Christmas Day!”

Merry Christmas!


- Richard Doyle -


Special thanks to Mrs. Bott's 2nd grade class from Sacred Heart School, Wadsworth, Ohio, for their creative photos (2003-4).

 

 

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