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Astonishing Celestialities Of Profound Import, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:38am

Yeah. That’s the moon. And it was in fact teeny, that’s not just the effect of my iPhone.

On the morning of the recent lunar eclipse I woke up at 4:45 am hoping to find a giant blood red moon in my back yard. Nope. I love celestial events, I will never forget last year’s super moon, it shone like a silver dinner plate right over my neighbor’s house. Or a meteor shower above the Eastern Sierra, August, 1975. I love the feeling of mystery in the universe, of being small and lost in the glorious overhead.

This, however, was not that. Thank heavens for small earthly surprises.

The hellebore bloomed early – surprise! – amid my daphne. Leslie asked for a photo, Leslie, here you go. Bonus fern, no charge.

Someone also asked for a photo of my olive trees, lined up in pots on my back patio. Happy to oblige.

Here I have been both surprised and charmed by small birds who hop about in the olive branches. I see them from my sofa, I interpret them as cheerful and industrious, I assume they don’t see me at all.

Finally, one recent warm day, my aunt and I decided to take my mother out for a walk down our main street. Mom was in a wheelchair, my aunt and I took turns to push. It turns out that as Mom’s Alzheimer’s progresses, she is losing language, which makes her very anxious. She lived for human contact and conversation.

We got her some ice cream, and found ourselves near a group of pre-teen boys. They ate their ice cream and joshed each other. Mom indicated she wanted to go over to them. I was worried they’d be brusque, rude, mocking. As we wheeled up, I warned the boys, “You won’t understand what she says. My mom’s got Alzheimers. But she’ll be happy to talk to you.” The tallest boy smiled and said, “That’s OK.” The little guy at the back, hair all combed, said, “I’m happy too.”

I almost died of joy. Mom just watched the boys until her anxiety told her it was time to get moving again. I did not expect a straggle of pre-teen boys to eclipse a super moon, but I was shortsighted.

Great weekend all.




77 Responses

  1. Oh I must have something in my eye. Gifts from young boys. One never knows, does one, where a gift might appear.

  2. I wish you knew who the parents were of those boys so that you could tell them how their sons behaved. Any parent would, justifiably, be thrilled.

  3. Hello Lisa, I don’t know if the lunar eclipse was visible from Taiwan, but it was raining anyway. I do remember one night soon after I arrived there was a meteor shower, and I found a park from which I had a good view of the show.

    I love the mental image of your mother with those boys. There can be an innate understanding in children that they are not always given credit for. I recently hurt my shoulder (much better now), but when I was visiting a five-year-old friend, usually very boisterous, he saw that I was having difficulty getting my coat on. He instantly became very gentle and came over to help me with my coat, and even straightened the collar once it was on, all without saying a word.

  4. So much happiness in this post — thank you! Is that a grouping of daphne or just a very healthy single specimen? Beautiful, whichever, especially complemented by that rosy hellebore.
    I love the row of olive trees — such an effective regularity.
    And your heart-warming story about your mother and those pre-teen boys. . . Mine, and his buddies, and I’m guessing yours as well, would have been equally welcoming, I’m quite sure. And yet so often we have an apprehension otherwise. Thanks for the sweet reminder. xo

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, That’s just one daphne, which sort of split and yet kept living? Now intertwined with hellebore. Glad you like my olives. I still need the gardener to straighten a few out but on the whole I am really happy with them in place.

      And these days, seems like sharing sweet reminders is ever more important. xoxo.

  5. Oh, what a surprise! Those boys… I’m with your commenter Margaret, there’s something in my eye. Thank you so much for sharing that. xx

  6. That’s the sweetest, most optimistic story I’ve heard in a long time.

    I love your olive trees lined up like that – really stunning.

  7. Such a lovely post in multiple ways. Your potted olive trees lined up in a row are beautiful (the garden here has those same small, busy birds, which seem exotic to me since I’ve usually lived up too high to see them), as is the story of the sympathetic way the boys interacted with your mother. It is familiar to me, what you say, that the events we expect to be significant are often not as they are advertised, and what we have instead are the smaller moments filled with meaning and certain to live in memory.

    1. @Katherine C. James, Thank you very much. “that the events we expect to be significant are often not as they are advertised, and what we have instead are the smaller moments filled with meaning and certain to live in memory.” This.

  8. Such kindness in your story of the welcoming of pre-teen boys. I can see in my grandson that this would be so in his own cohort as well. All rough one minute and silly and yet still incredibly kind. I’ve long felt there is a magic in that age, sandwiched as it is between the innocence of childhood and the increasing awareness of adulthood. Thank you for sharing and brightening our days.

    I love the row of olive trees, and the lushness of your garden in these dreary brown days here. I just noticed that I can now see the emerging hellebores from my upstairs window, little bright orbs, as promising as candy.

    1. @Mardel, It is a magic age. In some ways, as are hellebores magic flowers. Not winter, not full on spring. Exactly “as promising as candy.”

  9. Your olive tress are wonderful in their terracotta pots.(It looks like Martha Stewart visited).

    Dementia is really hard and were all trying to figure out how best to manage it. Perhaps, these boys have something to teach us.


  10. I look forward to your weekly posts. You express such simple and profound pleasures so beautifully. I want to kiss those sweet boys, especially the one with his hair so nicely combed.

  11. Someone recently asked me what I wanted for our grandson age 2.5. I replied that I desired for him a kind character. We no longer live in New England and he did not understand my reply. Once, years ago I left an unkind remark on this blog (Cc). My only excuse looking back was that I had just had my appendix removed and my sister declined to sign me out of the hospital in JH, WY so I drove myself to the airport to pick up my husband flying in from the East. Killing time waiting for him I posted some unkind comments. Blame it on the drugs as I also drove through a 4 way stop.
    I am glad that these young men were kind to your mom. You have been a remarkable daughter to your mom during this life challenge.

    1. @Lewellyn, I’m going to take this as kind of an apology;), and I’m going to accept it. We never know what people who say unkind things might be going through. Thanks.

  12. I’m so happy,too,that there are still some very nice boys -such a gentle and dear story,heart is full like the supermoon
    Lovely hellebores!

  13. Such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing these small moments that delight us when we least expect it! As the the grandmother of two boys, it does seem that boys can be so sweet, kind and thoughtful. And I, too, love your olive trees – wonderful arrangement.

    1. @K-Line, If the moon hadn’t set into trees I’d probably have been more excited. And don’t get me wrong, I love my neighbors to have trees, so, would never suggest they get rid of them;).

  14. Oh, Lisa, what a lovely post.

    Do you remember writing about taking your mother to the beach with your siblings last Mother’s Day, and it just didn’t go as you had hoped? And then you went to some restaurant where a waiter sang “Happy Birthday” to her, and afterwards you all realized that she was saying in response, “I want more mens” – and the wait staff gathered round her to sing a few more choruses?

    It reminded me of a beautiful scene in A J Gurney’s play “The Dining Room” – one of the most High Wasp works ever written – where a a quartet of young men serenade the family matriarch (who has become a bit “forgetful,” as we say) with a lovely a cappella version of “Ora Lee” – not a dry eye in the house!

    Your mother was always a charmer – and she clearly hasn’t lost her touch, no matter what the age of the “mens” …

    Great stand of olive trees too!

    1. @Victoire, Whoops! I meant to write “Aura Lee” – big difference! Elvis sang “Love Me Tender” to this melody. And the West Point cadet chorus version is always a stunner.

    2. @Victoire, Aura Lee by West Point cadets. I will look it up on YouTube. And play it to Mom – the more “mens” the better. xoxo. Thank you.

  15. A heartwarming, beautiful story based on the smallest gesture. I feel happy now so can’t imagine how great you and your mother do.

  16. The kindness of strangers is amazing, especially more so, when it involves a few random young boys. This brief encounter made your mother happy. In turn, I am sure it pleased you (and all of us)too. Your patio and garden is really lovely. The olive trees are doing extremely well. Will they flower?

    1. @Susan, The kindness of random young boys feels like a thing unto itself, and made me so happy. I wonder about trees – a couple have teeny olive fruits (should have got all non-fruiting but the birds and squirrels are loving them) so perhaps they did flower and I didn’t see anything?

  17. Oh I must have the same thing in my eye. Best story of the week. To be honest those boys remind me of my grandsons. Sweetness and thoughtfulness. They love gelato in Palo Alto.

    Now those Olive trees look stunning. Did not know they could grow in pots. Very effective.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Tough times.

  18. Like others, your story moved me to tears. Thank you. And, for an avid Minnesota gardener, those lush images of your blooming garden were just what I needed.

    1. @Jenn K, You are very welcome. And I bet your snow is beautiful, but I can imagine February gets very long indeed. I hear Minnesota is gorgeous in May.

  19. The garden, I don’t understand much about plants – names, growing, etc. – except that I love how soothing they are.

    The story of the boys made my heart skip a beat. The surprise of unexpected kindness. Wonderful. Especially while eating ice cream.

    My partner O, unbidden, woke me up at 5AM so I could see the moon. I loved that he did. The sight made me feel small and big at the same time. Glorious magic.

  20. Thank you for sharing. By the comments it is obvious just how many were affected by this small act of kindness. .

    Lizer Pearl

  21. Oh, this post gave me a huge case of the happy-sads.

    My husband’s aunt just went to see her sister, his mom, whose Alzheimer’s is pretty advanced, for the first time in many years. We were afraid that seeing her sister so far into her Alzheimer’s space would be shocking and devastate her. Instead, they “sang” (my MIL is past words) childhood songs and laughed together.

    1. @Patsy, My mother, who hasn’t known who I am for 4 years, remembers her sister almost every time she sees her. I am glad your mother in law still has the capacity to feel close to family, and that she’s not all alone.

  22. Such a lovely post. It’s heartening to know that most people are good and most people will rise to the occasion if we give them the opportunity. I often feel “invisible” as an older woman, but I suspect there are lots of young people who stuggle with the same feelings — not being noticed, not being taken seriously, etc. I guess all we really want is a bit of connection to other people. and I’m so happy your Mom can still experience that.

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