Scarlet, I hope you enjoyed your day off yesterday. You looked so content, sitting in front of Henry and Louise’s place all day. And don’t worry about me – I had a great time, which for me means that I was with people. Henry and Louise are golden. The bodies look older and a little more uncooperative but the bigness of heart is right there for all to see.
In 1972, Henry was quite the joker. Me too. We were great roommates. In 2015, Henry still has a surprise or two up his sleeve:
“Bruce, are you a swinger?”
“Let’s go swing.”
Henry leads me around a corner of a building in his backyard, carrying two photo albums. And … Voilà! … There sits a big wooden swing that could rock four people comfortably. We sit down beside each other and start looking at my friends’ wedding photos. Louise and Henry look radiant. I point out the ones I like, and the ones I don’t, composition-wise. There’s a shot of Henry and Louise, his arm around her waist, in front of candles and their wedding cake, smiling at someone to the photographer’s right. There’s a yellow curtain behind Henry’s head and the photographer made sure that the top edge of the curtain isn’t in line with the top of his head. I’m proud of that picture. I was the photographer. A little bit of pride never hurt anyone, I figure.
The three of us spent a couple of hours leafing through albums. What fun. There’s a photo of me at a 60’s party in 1972 in Ottawa, dancing with my friend Glenda. My hair is brown (pretty much like it is today), long and very curly. I’m wearing hornrimmed glasses. My tongue has emerged from its cave. Oh my God, that’s me!
Another pic shows a lovely young girl of about 10, flowing black hair, lipstick, a long sleeveless dark blue dress, and strings of white pearls. So pretty. Except it was a boy. Adam, my friends’ grandson, had dressed up for a school costume party. Adam’s mom Paulette was apparently thrilled with his disguise and the school principal didn’t bat an eye. I like it.
In the afternoon, Henry and I went out and about in his Dodge Ram, supposedly to pick up some garlic bread for supper, but really to talk and have him show me the homes he’s built in Weyburn, and other sights. They included the mental hospital that recently was torn down, in favour of more community-based care. The site was now the beginnings of a new subdivision but somehow I felt the presence of ghosts … a lot of anguished human beings.
At the grocery store, the cashier had an accent, and Henry prodded gently for her origin, a big smile covering his face. At first the woman resisted his advances (“Your total is …”) but soon they were talking in French and she was sharing her German heritage. Gosh, Henry is a lot like me in the grocery lineup.
Back at home, Henry saw his neighbour in the driveway, so we went over to shoot the breeze. Nice guy, with a story to tell. He had been driving near Weyburn when a tornado touched down. He and his truck were on the edge of it and the two of them were buffetted pretty good. “I was scared.” Afterwards, this fellow saw a house that had been invaded by plywood. Sheets of it had been thrown by the wind through a wall, the edges cutting like a knife through butter. Gulp again.
It’s 8:00 am and I’m sitting in the living room tapping with my digits. Louise is yawning towards me. It’s drizzling outside. “Henry’s out watering the garden again.” He always says that to her during a rain. So funny.
Last evening we had a delicious dinner of chicken, potatoes and beans, two of which were from Louise’s garden. Plus excellent garlic bread that someone had no doubt spent hours preparing. Not to mention two ice cream cones offered to the visitor from Ontario. Who am I to refuse such hospitality?
It was family time.