By David Anderson, Tillicum
It’s time to graduate. Commencement exercises will be followed by endless summer days, plans for success, the next adventure, dreams come true and living happily ever after.
And shattered glass.
Life is like a kaleidoscope – from Greek “kalos” meaning “beautiful” – a rotated tube containing various shards and shapes of glass forming patterns intriguing and variegated, caught for the moment in mirrored reflections.
The juxtaposition of life’s happenings can be like that, providing at once both confusion and complexity yet also revealing exquisite color and crystal-clear clarity, all seemingly unrelated events captured in a beautiful what-matters-most mosaic.
The tiny little placard read “Date of Birth May 24, 2010. Date of Death May 24, 2010.” Immediate family members huddled together commemorating the same day of life and death beneath the graveside canopy upon which the rain had begun to fall. Hardly is there a greater grief the heart of a young mother-to-be can know than the loss of one that she – and us, the baby’s grandparents and all drawn in from the rain there that day – never had opportunity to but briefly hold.
A year later our son and daughter-in-law would become an instant family with the adoption of a baby boy before he was even born, and foster three-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. All showed up on their doorstep – with love notes in hand – at nearly the same time. “Daddy’s Shoes” shares a glimpse into their kaleidoscope.
A book read in their little family is entitled “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” – written and illustrated by children’s author Dr. Seuss. It was the last of his books published before he died. At this time of year it is also one of the most popular gifts presented to high school and college graduates, some 300,000 copies across the United States and Canada.
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” concerns life and its sometimes heartbreaking challenges.
Like a twist of the toy in a tube however, life’s broken pieces can be seen to come beautifully together as we look back through the lens of hindsight.
A friend of ours reflected on the turn of events that brought him to where he is today. In what amounted to a gift card attached to the bow affixed to his little suitcase, he quips now these many adult years later that the accompanying note might as well have read, “Four-year-old boy looking for adoption. Potty training completed. Sleeps through the night. Comes with own twin bed and suitcase full of clothes. Tax-break if claimed by year’s end.”
It worked. He traded in his tote bag for a moving-van of memories of the mom in Kansas who “answered the ad” and whose love enabled him to be.
“Who he will be” was the theme of “nothing more than a children’s song” that Doris Day disdained to record though doing so reluctantly she then added “now that’s the last you’ll hear of that!” But it worked its melancholy magic in the hearts of listeners and “Que Sera Sera” became Doris Day’s biggest hit and signature song. From ‘asking my mother, what will I be’ to the “80-year-old man heard playing nostalgically through to the last stanza of thehauntingly beautiful c-major waltz on a broken down piano in a thrift shop,” there is a question in “Que Sera Sera” that all kids of all ages ask – high school and college graduates and beyond – with the events of life that collapse upon one-another supplying the answer.
While “will I be handsome, will I be rich?” and “will there be rainbows, day after day?” inquire into an unknown future, yet it is a future – with all its broken pieces and shards of glass – that can come together, as in a kaleidoscope, to form a beautiful mosaic of learned-no-other-way meaning and wouldn’t-trade-for-the-world memories.