There is a certain joy that comes from some memorable interactions. The word prompt ignited a memory, so I’ll share with you.
Familiar with my circumstances I was told about her, a widow in the neighbourhood, so I visited. Respective losses presumed to be common ground. She was distant with others. No one was allowed in the space she was in.
The carer raised her eyebrows in frustration and left the room. I walked in. I found her seated with her back to the window where sunlight streamed in. The priest had told her to expect my visit. She stared at the wall ahead of her, but responded to my greeting without looking at me. I was honest with her. Told her I was advised to see her because maybe we had things in common we could talk about. She heard the ethnicity and the relative youth in my voice, turned around and gave me a baleful look silently. When she spoke, she was haughty, with an Australian accent, rarely heard these days. We could not have been more different. Yet, I felt an instant connection, warm as an embrace.
Over the weeks that followed, I told her about my travels. About the time …
when I drove through a weather cell in the Wheatbelt, frightened out of my wits, the huge road train turned into a road angel that afternoon and illuminated the instant dark. I found silence and calm in a paddock, some 85 kms down the road.About my work in Moora where I go looking for the butterflies in the garden of my hotel. She looked at the picture and said drily. “It’s just a monarch!” There was a slight thaw around her mouth when I said, “yes, wearing polkas!”I told her about my work in Bunbury where I found the ocean turns pink at dawn.And about the bees among the prickly dryandra in Narrogin, that look like a long eared bunny, close up.About the filigree found in leaves that remind me of the silver jewellery gypsies wear in Rajasthan.And the single, plain leaf in the sand that caught my eye even when there was so much more to see.How the honeyeater’s song in the Goldfields helped me discover ….among the tangles, there’s simple beauty.How the flowers don’t all burst into bloom at once. Maybe Nature sets a pace to slow us down. Wait and see.I told her about the seagull with the broken foot that probably landed too hard at Walyalup Rocks, but can still fly.And about that time when locals in Bunbury asked each other if they saw the sunset the previous night.
She was visiting town and was returning to her son’s care. At our last visit she looked brighter. I thought she was glad to be leaving the city. But no. She asked me to give her the handbag that was out of reach. She pulled out her iPhone. Yes, iPhone! She’s 80 plus! She flicked through the photographs deftly and showed me one of a beautiful young woman in a wedding dress. The style was post war. She tells me it would have been their wedding anniversary that day. They had 62 years together when he died. He was the only man she had ever known. His work took him around the State, like me. She was familiar with the towns we had talked about. My journey, hers.
Her eyes welled up. It took her by surprise. She smiled and said softly, “he was my world”. I told her he must have loved her deeply, because he left the world behind for her.
Her smile was radiant. She knew exactly what I meant. She cupped my face in her hands and said, “We are kindred spirits. I may be losing my memory but I will never forget you”.
My prayer each morning is a simple one. Lord, show me something beautiful to photograph, so I can share it with others. I wished her goodbye and left with the knowledge, prayers never go unanswered.
Until next time
a dawn bird