The Crepe Myrtles are blooming. Their soft, ivory petals gleam in the sunlight during the day and act as guiding beams of warmth and comfort at night. Slowly almost imperceptibly they gain a bright pink hue, die and the green leaves that have been dormant since last year make their way into our world. This species of tree has become one of my favorite since I moved to the south so many years ago. Although it still has not replaced the fragile River Birch of my youth, it is still an amazing tree.
I look forward to their blossoms every year. The street where I work is lined with them, as are most streets in Old Towne Portsmouth. They are not a large tree by any means yet they provide plenty of shade in the summer and can withstand the harsh winds of fall on the eastern seaboard.
It is hard to not see them when they bloom, yet somehow, I missed it last week when they started. Maybe it was because my mind was tethered to other thoughts that had nothing to do with my surroundings or the joy I take from the small, simple things such as the changes in weather and all the effects it has on our surroundings. Yet when I did notice the change, on Saturday night as I was walking to my car from work, I was stunned. I stood on the sidewalk of High Street, which should actually be called a boulevard, and looked east and west. From the river to the traffic lights. All along the median the hundreds of Crepe Myrtles were in full bloom.
The moon in the sky shown down on them and the blossoms cast the luminous glow back to the heavens. My heart, which had been heavy and cold, warmed and lightened. The weight in my legs slowly disappeared and my troubled and somber mood became still and joyous.
It was then my Navy training in celestial navigation gave me an answer I wasn’t quite prepared for. I knew in just a few short days, our ancient satellite would be full. A common occurrence in all of our lives. Yet the day it was to be full happened to be the same day my family was going to say goodbye to our matriarch.
A few days later, as I stood in the parking lot of a funeral parlor in another state, I watched as the full moon slowly rose over the river not three blocks away. I smiled. I know in my mind this is a common occurrence. That life moves on, that the mechanics of our universe are pretty much set in place and we are helpless to do anything about their movements. Yet it seemed fitting that on this night, when a woman who had given so much to her family, a family who had come to say their last goodbyes and remember her, was escorted through the darkness by a light in the sky so bright that at times the street lights would flicker off because the light sensors didn’t know if it were day or night.
The moment seemed right, perfect, as if nothing in the world could go wrong or would dare to go wrong as this much loved and appreciated person was celebrated by the ones who had cared for her and she had cared for joined in celebration of her amazing life.
No, she didn’t find a cure for cancer, or sail the seven seas or even travel out of the United States. She didn’t change the world with one amazing discovery. Instead, she changed the world one person at a time. By being kind, by showing love, respect and honor. She gave when she had nothing to give. Love when there was no reason to love and respected those who didn’t deserve respect. She received unwavering loyalty for her kindness. And those that were fortunate enough to have learned from her example, well, they went on to share those lessons with others.
Which has changed the world.
She proved that you don’t have to be a celebrated figure in the world to change it. You just had to listen, love and care for the people you came into contact with. For that, I will always be grateful. As I am sure the people who knew her are too.
Rest In Peace Doris.