For me, I seek continuity in my relationships. Today, I repeat an earlier gift by calling my friend Vin in Massachusetts and read five more chapters from The Racketeer by John Grisham over the phone.
One hallmark of our friendship is its regularity and consistency. Often in the past, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays we would get together at his house at 3P to read; first catching up on our days and then settling in with a good book.
After all the years reading side by side, it’s weird reading aloud over the phone in an empty house . Then I think of the King, LeBron James. LeBron. He feels that he owes the basketball crowd his best effort every night. He reasons correctly that since there are people who have come to see him play for the first time, he “owes” them his best. So I sit at 162 Chases Pond Road as the late fall sun falls behind our many oak trees and give it my all. It’s the least a friend can do. Le Bron would agree.
Since my friend Vin has moved 65 miles away to be with his convalescing wife at the home of their daughter, I can no longer just roll down the hill a mere mile and a half to read to him. It used to be that we’d end up in his living room or on warm days on his patio. Today cell phones bridge the distance and allow us to carry on with our reading of The Racketeer by John Grisham.
To give Hannah space in our downstairs kitchen/living room, I head to our hideaway skylight room where our TV hangs on the wall. In a faux Laz-e-Boy rocker, I settle in ready to read. Normally at his home Vin provides horehound candies to soothe my throat. Today I place a glass of water on the table to my right to lubricate my throat. Then I am ready to give it my best show-stopping performance with all the inflection and animation of a Broadway divo (male diva).
It’s 2P and Vin is settled in a back bedroom in Massachusetts and I in Maine for the next hour plus. And I begin… I’m back in the warden’s office and something is up… And so continues Malcolm Bannister’s narration of his plan to trade information about the murder of a federal judge for the commutation of his ten year sentence. At 310P my voice says no mas, but we are 30 pages further down the road to the story’s no doubt satisfying Grisham conclusion. My gift is my reading, his gift is our friendship.
Portsmouth Beauty School students working on their maniquins.
My friend Vin and his wife Jean are staying with their daughter while Jean convalesces having broken her ankle. Today I drive south to Massachusetts to renew a “reading aloud to Vin” tradition that began eight years. While Hannah was learning the hairdressing trade at the Portsmouth Beauty School, she had a favorite client. You might have guessed that it was Vin.
Intermountain Indian School in Utah
Vin fills a room with his personality. It turns out Vin lived just literally down the hill from us in York and so I began reading to Vin. After years as an educator in the West at Intermountain Indian School, he moved East when he lost his sight in his early 60s. Now in his 90s, he is the kind of friend you would all love to have. Appreciative, interested, just plain fun, and willing to pause and discuss life as well as the book that we are reading.
I take I-95 south and eventually the country roads lead me to his daughter’s home. He is acclimating to his new surroundings and now uses a cane. When at his home, I would offer him my elbow from time to time to navigate through his house; today he wants no such guidance as he wants/needs to learn where the couches, tables, and passageways are in his new “home.” We settle in with The Racketeer by John Grisham and begin reading as I have for years to my friend Vin. I feel at home even 65 miles away from York.