Gifts–A Boy’s Memories

remembering the boy

As the boy grows into a man and the man grows into a boy.


He sat quietly in the grass with his birthday pocket knife,
Carefully carving a small boat from a large piece of pine bark.
Excited about the shape taking place in his hands
Excited about his new-found ability to make something,
He never noticed the pain or the blood dripping to the dust
From the cut on his finger.
He could make a boat.
He could sail it down the gutters after a rain
He could do anything.
The seven year old boy was invincible.

They had told him that he couldn’t have a bicycle until he was 8.
September was far, far away that year, but it finally showed up
And, as promised, a shiny, new, Schwinn Bicycle entered his life.
He had a new freedom. A freedom of territory, of adventure.
He never noticed the pain or the blood dripping to his shoe
From the skinned place on his knee.
His knife in one pocket
His boat in the other,
He rode off to the city lake
To be a pirate.

The new radio had arrived. The radio that would bring in the world.
At first, he wondered about the little people inside the box
As he listened to The Shadow, and to Rosemary Clooney
On a Saturday morning while he enjoyed purloined cupcakes
Closed up in his room but with his eye on the universe
He was Lash Larue, Roy Rogers
He waited for the rain to end
And the moment when he could ride his bike
And conquer all of the bad guys.
For, you see, he was invincible.

A first baseman’s mitt, a baseball bat, and a new career.
He sat in the dugout with Mickey Mantle, discussing the game’s finer points.
The boy waved at the crowd and pointed his bat to the centerfield fence
As he prepared to hit the game winning homer for the series
And bring in Ted Williams and Willie Mays who were stuck on base.
Two strikes and three balls
Full count, bottom of the ninth inning
The pitch, low, curving to the outside
The crack of the bat echoed through the hills
As he watched the ball fly off into the universe.

The summer long he had worked and saved to come up with enough money
He gave himself a birthday present that year, having mowed fifteen yards
And saved every bit of it for the purchase of his new portable radio.
The boy, who was about to reach a height of six feet this year
Fastened the radio to the handlebars of his bike
And delivered the daily news papers
As Del Shannon called for his Runaway
Roy Orbison was Cryin’ over you
And Chubby Checker yelled, “It’s Pony Time.”

He had worked hard all summer building a greenhouse and finding plants
And this year he had two toys, the plant place for exploring an inner world
And a young son who loved to sit on the gravel floor with him, laugh
And carve boats out of pine bark. Together they were invincible .
Together they explored important things like fishing worms and butterflies
And they built an elf man garden
And walked through it in their fantasies
And sat on the rocks in their minds
As they talked of the best ways to kill dragons.

And her father said, “There’s your Christmas present. Take good care of it.”
And the boy, who was no longer a boy, asked, “The gift is your daughter?”
And the father replied, “Yes, but there is a no return policy.”
And the boy who was no longer a boy went off to unwrap his gift.
And together they went off to explore the universe that they shared.
They laughed at the dragons and chased them away
They lived through the troubles with caresses and tears.
They walked down the street holding hands
And they went to a baseball game every now and then.

“There’s nothing as satisfying as a good pair of pruning shears,” he said
As he carefully considered a new cut on the beautiful bonsai tree.
He reached over slowly, positioned the cutters just so, and slowly snipped.
He smiled as he sat back and studied the ancient looking tree before him.
“Look,” he said, if you study it you can find the world, the freedom of flight.
A bonsai tree should be pruned so that a bird can fly through it.
If I concentrate, I can become a bird and fly right through…
There.” He smiled and pointed.
“The tree represents the past and the future.” He said

He considered carving a boat and sailing it down the gutter in a rain.
He had become the boy again in a larger, older body
But, still the boy.

A Lady Wrote This Poem For Me

My friend Claudia Kennedy sent me this nice poem that she wrote for me
This was kind and made me feel good. I thought I would share it:

He laughed at the evening sky

He laughed at the evening sky

To JPS, with thanks….

Sometimes Late In Life You Get Lucky.

The old man stuck his shovel into the parched ground again with all his strength.
His back ached with the effort.
He watched and waited patiently,
his weathered face bronzed by the setting sun.

It had been a long haul and struggling alone was wearing thin.
He leaned his chin on the tip of the shovel’s handle and rested
As he raised his head toward the sky.

Fresh cool water sprang from the rocky earth beneath his feet.
He leaned on his shovel’s handle,
Threw back his head and laughed
To no one in particular.

“Every now and again in life you get lucky.”

“Looks like everything is going to be all right….

—Claudia Kennedy—

Searching, Finding, Living (On My 70th Birthday)…

Quotes and Notes #307, September 7

It's a pretty place, It is alluring, but be careful. Photo by Bill Land

It’s a pretty place, It is alluring, but be careful. Photo by Bill Land

Today, on my 70th birthday, instead of a quote I am going to share an original writing about my progress in life. It contains vivid mental pictures.

6 years old
When I was very young
My mother pointed and said
“Don’t go over there.”
I wondered why.

16 years old
For years, I looked in that direction
And wondered what was “over there.”
I thought about “over there” a lot
And I asked myself, “I wonder what would happen if…”

26 years old
“Over there” became an obsession
I kept looking in that direction, not moving.
Then, one day I turned and began to drift
Slowly, fearfully, and carefully.

36 years old
I went as far as I could
There was a precipice and a cliff
I looked over the brink and saw…
Nothing—no bottom as far as I could see.

46 years old
I had visited the brink so many times.
I was obsessed with it.
I spent most of my time at the brink
Neglecting work, friends, and family.

56 years old
I was dizzy. I stepped over the edge
I slowly floated down toward the unseen bottom
The descent was slow at first and then faster and faster
And faster and faster
With no bottom in sight, I fell and fell,
Without realizing that I was falling.

I approached the bottom and the bottom of the bottom
Was a mirror. I fell rapidly toward it and gazed into it
And I saw myself
I saw myself as someone I did not wish to be.

And at that moment, I found that I had wings
And that I could spread the wings and stop my fall
I realized that I could escape the obscure ending.
And I landed next to a wall of rock
That ascended farther than I could see.

66 years old
I had climbed the rock wall for years.
Sometimes I made good progress
Sometimes the going got rather difficult,
Sometimes the going was fun and easy.
At a place almost to the top, I almost fell
Into what would have been a certain ending.

I found the top of the rock wall
And climbed carefully to the level ground
At the other side of the precipice.
I walked off happily, finding love and life.

70 years old
That was truly an adventure
I came close, so close to the bottom
Then I came close, so close to the top.
Everything is going to be all right.

Give someone a smile on my Birthday
John P. Schulz—“Sweetie Drives on Chemo Days.”

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