Over thirty years ago. I was a child. My father took us to a cemetery to check for ancestors we had learned to be buried there. It was a country church. And in the church was a stained (still is) glass window bearing the names of great great relatives. When we pulled in to the parking lot I remember it to be empty. But there was a “man”. He was older than us children. But he couldn’t have been more than twenty or something. He was playing a guitar under a tree. And he kept looking in to something. At some point or another we managed to make our way to him. Our curiosity was peaked. I couldn’t tell you what he was playing, I couldn’t tell you if he was just learning, or already a master.
I do, however, remember and can picture his curly haired head looking down.
When we got to him he was very kind. Gentle. There was a frog in a tree stump (this is fuzzy, I remember it to be a tree stump but I don’t know this for sure). He spoke to us softly. He smiled.
As it turned out he went to church there. As did we when we were “camping” at the farm on the weekends with dad. I remember seeing him. And his black haired, oh so pretty wife, in the church on the weekends. It was the first time as a child that I remember connecting to someone on my very own. Not through school. Not through the neighborhood. But under a tree, with a guitar, and a frog.
One day I realized the black haired wife was pregnant. I wrote a poem for them. I don’t know how many weekends I held on to this poem before one day I got the courage. And after church I went to the beautiful pregnant lady and gave it to her. And left.
The next weekend the man approached me and asked if I had given his wife the poem. I did. I was so happy that he had made a point to come to me, and thank me.
Over time we talked. I looked forward to seeing them on the weekends. I don’t even know at what point I learned their names. But eventually I did. And I loved them.
And their new little baby when she arrived.
I was growing up. Growing older. I saw them every weekend. Their family was growing. She was pregnant again. I can’t explain it now, but there was a comfort in seeing them. This young couple. This little family. There was something about each of them that just made me smile when I saw them. I couldn’t think of them then, or now, without smiling.
One weekend he asked me if I had a brother, and he named my oldest brother. I was shocked. I said yes. By then my oldest brother was not making the weekend journeys with us. He was older. He was out of school, he was working. The man said my brother was dating his sister.
Well, that sealed it for me. She had to be perfect. And I did like her. And I liked her when she married my brother. And I felt like that little family was now kind of my family by osmosis or something.
Over the years their family grew. My life moved from the city to the country. And the beautiful black haired woman had more children. We grew closer. We wouldn’t see one another. We would see one another. Looking back I would have to say I honestly think I idolized her. She wasn’t that much older than me. Just old enough that I was still a child while she was a young woman. I thought she was perfect. And my life always seemed fuller, more positive, when she was in it. She talked me in to returning to school. And I did. And I learned independence and how to face things because of returning to school. She opened doors for me without even knowing it. I always thought she was amazing. I still see a vision of her, in church, with a white flowing kind of top, with red in it somehow. I can still see her with her first baby, standing in church. Holding her. Loving her.
But you know how life happens. Time passes. Things change. None of us are where we were so very long ago.
I had been thinking of the beautiful black haired wife and mom for two weeks. We hadn’t talked for a year or more. You know how it is, life, it kind of takes over and things get away from you. Even the very good things of your life. Then two days ago as I sat on the porch of my neighbor Husband looks at me, catches my eye, and nods his head. I look in the direction of his nod. There, on her bike, sat the beautiful black haired woman. She sat there looking at me. Smiling. I can’t tell you the joy in my heart. My friend. My memory. She only had a minute but we ended up talking well over an hour. And it wasn’t enough.
It is one of the strongest, and most positive memories of my life. Meeting the man. Who played the guitar. Who looked down at the frog with his curly hair. Who I saw in church. Standing next to a beautiful black haired woman. It’s been over thirty years. I always go to one place when I think of them. A safe place. A young place. A place that was perfect in the moment and perfect in my memory.
And I have loved the curly haired man.
And the black haired woman.
Where ever they have gone.
As long as I can go back.