The birthing center anchors the entrance to the town; a veteran’s cemetery marks its end. Dunkin Donuts, a market, bar, pizzeria, and smattering of other enterprises sustain the ebb and flow of life between.
We snagged the only beds around—a quintessential country B&B with printed wallpaper, eclectic furnishings, and hearty breakfasts that brought new meaning to “stick to your ribs,” and everywhere else to boot.
I had been quick to secure the one bedroom with its own bath, (although my brother delighted in saying I stole it from under him—he having to share the other bath with the guests in the next room—his sons.) I had no qualms in pulling rank. And he had none in short-sheeting my bed. Having never experienced this age-old camp trick, we were totally baffled when we pulled back the blankets. Surely our innkeepers knew how to make a bed. Bill’s triumphant giggles on the other side of the door were a dead give-away.
We had come to this tiny spot on the Vermont map, wedged in between lush hillsides and Interstate 89, to celebrate a man’s life and death, and to reacquaint ourselves with family and friends long ago scattered, like a rack of pool balls, in different directions.
I was curious about the images my brain released in response to the oft asked question, “Remember me?” In an instant, the white-haired woman facing me morphed into a teenager urging me to buy my mother a parakeet to match the one she was buying for her mother. The gregarious woman dishing out generous portions of food and picking the dog hairs off my sweater informed me I was her godmother (Lord forgive me for my delinquency in spiritual motherhood). The lanky woman in jeans stirred sad memories of a trio of best friends broken by a family move.
A solid, towering man reminded me he was indeed the young cousin boy who worked for my father one summer. He, in turn, remembered two things about me: I was a skinny, beaded hippie, and I had a 1964 blue Volkswagen. Since I don’t have a cool mini cooper, or any other car of note, and I’m not decked out in beads or tattoos, this got me thinking about the impressions I make on people.
Whether we like it or not, our days are numbered. Soon my car will be at the head of the train. When it’s time for me to get off, how will I be remembered? Funerals and family gatherings remind me I have been careless with my time, my friendships, and family. There’s not much I can do about what’s behind, but I can affect what’s ahead.
[Lord] teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom . Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, and Thy majesty to their children. And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.—Ps 90:12-17
I suspect the life I have lived in between the birthing center and the burial plot will be remembered along with tepees, and other assorted adventures, but in the end, I pray it will be saluted as one lived in the faith and joy of the Lord.