Dear Winn – 10 March 2016

Dear Winn:
It was so good to be in your presence last weekend, to see your face, and to hear your voice. It doesn’t seem like that was a week ago today. Man, time zips. And yes, I did think it sorta strange we were in Conroy country when he died. There were a couple of his books on the beach house’s shelf, one of them an odd-covered The Water Is Wide. I almost swiped it, almost. Somebody said the owner was trying to sell the place, an absentee landlord type who didn’t give a rip about it anymore. That was evident as the place needed some attention. Chances are good the dingdong doesn’t even know what’s on his shelf. He’d of never missed the copy. I should have adopted the book, given it a good, stable, loving home (mine, HA).
 
Years ago a critic said Conroy’s writing was long-winded and purplish. “Inflation is the order of the day,” Richard Eder wrote of The Prince of Tides in The Los Angeles Times. “The characters do too much, feel too much, suffer too much, eat too much, signify too much and above all talk too much.” Those are exactly the reasons I love his writing, the too-muchness. I guess God created some people to be critics, but I’m not certain about that. To devote your life to being critical? Seems such a little bitty existence. Anyway, here’s to being purplish! The critics can kiss it.
 
I flew back to Denver via Charlotte. That airport was busting at the seams with SpringBreakers, their electric conversations, their bodies tight, full of alacrity. Seeing their faces brought to mind the final line of that beautiful Stafford poem that Seth recited while we were in S.C. – “places where the scars will be.” Ah, life. Watching and listening to them made my heart hurt a bit for me too, remembering I was them not so long ago. Man, time zips.
 
Speaking of SpringBreakers, Will’s coming home week after next. He’s talked to us about wanting a tattoo, I have a feeling we’ll discuss that again while he’s home. That was such a taboo thing when I was a boy, but its not so much anymore. From time to time I’ve considered getting one myself, something small, you’d no doubt only see it if I took a nude selfie and posted it online (what is up with nude selfies? isn’t that one of the signs of the last days in Revelation?). Maybe a crow/raven up on the deltoid, or simply the phrase “midnight rider” on one of my pecs. I’m laughing typing this out. Good lord.
 
I think I told you about the comment Abbey made the other night. She was watching Dance Moms (a horrible show really) and looked up at me and said “I wish I could have taken dance lessons.” Winn, that gutted me. I had to look away as tears filled my eyes. She didn’t say it as a dig or anything, just voicing a desire that didn’t come to pass. I love it that she felt the freedom to say that. We didn’t have the money for such things when she was little. I wished we would have, but we just didn’t. As a parent you want to ensure your kids get to do what they want to do and when you can’t make that happen, ugh, it kills a little part of you, at least that’s how I’ve experienced it. Somebody once asked Pop Wally (Stegner) if he felt his childhood was diminished, living up there near the Canadian border, really a spartan existence absent of so many of those opportunities we currently want to offer our children. He said something to the effect of “No, I didn’t get those things. But I got other things.” My tear-filled prayer is that one of these days Abbey has such a thought. But I still wish she could’ve learned to dance. 
 
Staying lighter a little later around here. I love that as it lends itself to porch-sitting in the evenings. Wish you lived a bit closer, you could join me on the porch. Not to talk necessarily, just to sit. I could brew some sweet tea like we had at Jestine’s Kitchen. I’m pretty sure I got a cavity, if not two, just drinking that stuff. It was worth it though. Time zips, drink the sweet tea and be too-much!
 
Coraggio.
John 
 

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15 Comments

  1. Alise on March 10, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    This one gutted me, because it reminds me that it’s okay to have hopes for our kids, even if they don’t come to pass. And that it’s as good to mourn those unfound moments as it is to celebrate what is found.

    • thebeautifuldue on March 11, 2016 at 2:33 am

      Thanks, Alise. Yes, the mourning is good, hard, but good.

  2. Carol Longenecker Hiestand on March 10, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    “be too-much.” Guess no one told me that growing up…I usually was too much – big feelings…but I have come to claim my “bigness”. I love big, feel sad big, talk big (a lot) sometimes, enjoy life big. so I like this little bit of advice you gave you friend, this morning.

  3. pastordt on March 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Love this, love Conroy, love that closing word. And your girl? Never too late for dance. Never.

    • Sheila Seiler Lagrand on March 10, 2016 at 11:17 pm

      Diane,
      I confess I have not read Conroy. Where should I begin? The one time I feel my mortality bearing down on me is when I think of the books I have not yet read . . . .

    • Sheila Seiler Lagrand on March 10, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      And how did I manage to lose your final “A”? Gosh. Sorry, Diana!

    • thebeautifuldue on March 11, 2016 at 2:35 am

      Thanks, Diana. And I agree w/you – never too late. Her story is still being written:)

  4. Sheila Seiler Lagrand on March 10, 2016 at 11:19 pm

    I’m tracking with my friend Diane here. Last month my sister turned 60(!) and celebrated by participating in her first 5k. I hope Abbey dances. I hope she has a chance to study dance, (even if only on YouTube) but whether she studies or not, may your girl always dance. Amen.

    I know those parental tears, too, though. I do. I raised a musician and there was always something more that we could have added to the instrument collection, had funds allowed.

  5. nellskac on March 11, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    My parents never invested in dance lessons, either. My engineer-father wanted my spare time to have solid STEM curriculum, and so I won regionals at the science competitions, instead.
    But, art is sneaky.
    Your daughter has a full life ahead of her, and many, many evenings that she still can spend in dance studios.
    I’d wager that you’ve taught her how to love even when it hurts. I’d wager that you’ve shown her how joy can exist on the other side of sorrow. I’d wager that you’ve demonstrated fierce, rugged devotion when other people start giving up and stop caring.
    And those things, in my mind, are the start of all artistry.
    With those building blocks, dance is not far behind…dance is just, to me, art expressed through our bodies, just like writing is art expressed through words.

    So someone else was taught, “Now, point your foot this way,” and you daughter didn’t have that. Small, small matters. She can still learn these things. But to teach a person the meaning behind suffering, love, pain, joy, etc….those are the real lessons that spark heart-fire in the most meaningful dancers. And those things your daughter has. Therefore: she has a solid dance foundation. The rest is just practice.

    • thebeautifuldue on March 12, 2016 at 1:48 am

      Thank you so much, Nell. I love those thoughts, beautiful.

  6. Helen Fagan on March 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Our oldest son, Jonathan, now 30, once told me, “you care too much, Mom”. He was 17 at the time. I told him, that is how God created me. Recently, on a visit with him, now living in Los Angeles, I reminded him of that. He hugged me and said, “I was a fool, Mom. I’m glad you are the way you are.” I’m so glad Jesus loved…too much!

    Charlotte airport…one of my favorites!

  7. hisfirefly on March 16, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    just.oh.my.
    your words transport me however and wherever they are directed.
    hush.

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