I hope this one is better:
That Little Wooden Bridge
Mom and I knew that we are not going back to our Washington DC home till, may be, at beginning of next year. Since we were not at home for almost 2 months, I decided to make a trip back on late Friday (10/4) evening alone.
While there, I watered our house plants; did some yard work; winterized our home and jotted down the odometer reading for my “auto storage policy”. Then, I came back in early Sunday morning after a brief ~30 hours stay.
In our yard, there is a little wooden bridge which Mom and I designed & built several years ago. This bridge has only one post at its mid-span. Part of the bridge is skew to the left about 30 degrees, toward the edge of our yard. It was built on a grassy dry trench for rain storms. Together, we spent a lot of time building and sitting on that bridge. Also, a plan centered on that bridge is already on our minds. It features a well-laid scheme of:
-Digging a water-lily pond with enough depth and hanging rocks that fish can hide from its predators,
-Putting all those small rocks along the water; rocks that Mom collected from all over the world, including a brick from her village house,
-Adding a bench under nearby trees, and
-Planting a lot of flowers on the far side of our yard.
Also, in our yard, we brought back different kinds of trees from different places, over the years. We planted them together and most of them grew into lovely green things.
That night, by the time I parked my rental car on our driveway, it was already 1:00 AM in the morning. The sky was crystal clear. The moonlight shined, penetrated and rained down through the nightly sky, laid across and sparkled on that little wooden bridge. Consciously, I took a special look. For that special look, the sparkling light on the bridge reflected back a lot of memories – memory chips full of pictures, pictures of us, families and friends. Since then, these memories did not fade away all night even when, finally, I laid in bed around 2:30 AM in the morning ready to sleep.
Next morning (?), when hand-pulling weed out of the ground, fertilizing our lawn and sowing the seeds, that little wooden bridge was always in the back of my mind lingering around. Of course, the moonlight was long gone, but not the memories.
That day, while tending our oak trees from Pennsylvania farm; fig trees from New York, magnolia tree from Texas; bamboos from Oregon; persimmon tree from a Chinese nursery in Maryland; ginkgo tree; local clematis climbing up, wondering through the white wagon wheel from Alabama, and of course, the asparagus bed, memories about tree planting and that little wooden bridge were once again there, keeping my mind occupied.
Saturday night, it happened that there was an outdoor bon-fire dinner at the cul-de-sac for the entire neighborhood, about 30 families. All neighbors knew that most of the time we were not there. We were there, once in a while, as resident strangers. This time, much to their surprise, they found me there. Of course, everyone asked about Mom.
One of our neighbors chatted with me that she knew her husband a lot before they got married, therefore, no surprises and no alarms. She knew all his ex-girl friends, all his bad habits, all his likings, sizes of his shirts and pants, all ex-this, all ex-that, etc. Then, I uttered my “own lines” in response to her. After 35 years of our marriage, sometimes, I just don’t know Mom that much and, may be, even myself. For example, today, I still don’t know why my “I do” was echoed back across the pastor, and for what? Either, I must have something special that I can’t recognize or fathom, or maybe, it was just pure luck. I think, most likely, “Good Luck Fools”. Sometimes though, I thought right choices were made. It is attractively contradictory, isn’t it?
The other neighbor, while cooking hot dogs on her portable min-propane grill, was equally sentimental, because that grill is still working after 20+ years of service. Still, there are propane bottles available that can snap right on to her grill. It was a gift from her boy friend who, now, is her husband. For that reason, she treasures it very much and, hence, uses it very rarely. May be just once a year. I said I could relate that to myself, I bought Mom an inexpensive heating pad from a discount store 35 years ago. It is still in use today. She brings it with her all the time, to anywhere everywhere.
Well, many couples were there talking and laughing and, of course, together with family exchanges, the memories about that little wooden bridge was once again coming out of their hiding places in my mind.
That night, after the bon-fire dinner and before retiring to bed, I packed some Mom’s scarves, mittens, gloves and winter clothes for early flight back to Denver. While packing, I just picked and packed the ones that I could find and like. With her belongings and clothes in my hands, the memories of that little wooden bridge were there again waving at me sporadically.
At that moment, I thought I would like to tell Mom about dreams of sitting together on that bench, under the trees, enjoying the pond as well as my memories of that little wooden bridge – “the sooner the better”. And I did, just minutes after landing at Denver International.