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Thursday, June 29, 2017

(8) MEET THE ASTONISHING ATWOODS

AN UNCONVENTIONAL PAIR
October 2011
      My summer partner, Carol Atwood, spends her winters in Orlando.  Last June she arrived five minutes late for our first date of the season and took director Jenny Koenecke’s place across from me. 
     “I thought the game started at 1:00,” Carol explained.  “I was having lunch with my husband at The Mug and thought I had plenty of time.”
     “I’ll take you home,” I offered, arranging my hand.
     “I don’t need a ride,” she said, arranging hers.  “We bring both cars.”
     I stared at her in surprise but couldn’t delay the game any longer.  I learned further details during a sit-out.  Paul is retired and doesn’t like to have lunch alone.  He’s a member of the Cohasset Golf Club and could lunch with friends there, but that won’t do.  He prefers his wife’s company, cares not a whit about the high cost of gasoline, and thus it is that the Atwoods sally forth every Wednesday in their separate vehicles and meet at the restaurant. 
     If they’d been married just six months ago, I could understand it, but the fact is, they celebrated their 54th anniversary in 2008.
      In an effort to understand the nature of this unusual husband, I Googled “infatuation” and saw “foolish, unreasoning or extravagant passion or attraction.”  That certainly didn’t fit.  Then I tried synonyms for “love,” and thesaurus.com came up with four different senses.  The editor slipped up or got lazy on numbers 1 and 3, repeating the synonym “love” for “love.”  The least indelicate fourth meaning was “roll in the hay,” also discarded.  I found the definition I was searching for in sense number 2:  love . . . enjoy . . . like.
     I lunched at The Mug with Paul and Carol before they left for Florida and asked how they would feel if I posted their story on my blog with names changed. Would they be uncomfortable?  They gave their assent, so kudos for this remarkable couple who exchanged their vows more than half a century ago, then forgot to return from their honeymoon.  
July 4, 2012
     Three other people have come upon my blog by typing something that made it pop up.  The most recent was a fellow from Ireland who was 85 years old and had always loved a poem called “The Tippler," which a girl read to him when he was fifteen. Jack Quinn could never find out who the poet was until a few weeks ago when he searched the title on Google.  Up came my blog.  
     Then there was Grace Lawrence, who illustrated the activity book I compiled for children, Poetry with a Purpose, based on my mother's poems.  Grace’s grandson, Justin Glennon, tried typing her name on Google and he, too, discovered my blog. He contacted me, and I sent him Rhyme Time, also illustrated by his grandmother, plus the original artwork itself, which he had framed for his daughter’s bedroom.
     I formed a lasting friendship with another blogger, whom a mutual friend found online.  Paige had loved The Laughing Willow as a child and had kept a copy into adulthood.  She was wondering if it would be all right to publish it on her blog http://rhapsodyenbleuclair.blogspot.com
     Of course I was happy to say yes, absolutely.  Since then she has posted many of Ernestine’s verses, such as Birthington’s Washday, which used to appear in Child Life every February.
                                                   
                                                THE LAUGHING WILLOW

                                                 Beside a pool within a wood
                                                 A family of willows stood.
                                                 All they did was weep and weep.
                                                 Indeed, they wept, this leafy clan,
                                                 As they have wept since time began.
                                    
                                                Imagine, then, the pain and grief
                                                That shocked the willows, root and leaf,
                                                When suddenly beside the pool
                                                The Youngest Willow broke the rule!

                                               A woodsy laughter, small and thinned,
                                               Fell lightly on the summer wind.                   
                                               "Weep!" exclaimed the willow crowd.
                                  "To laugh is simply not allowed!"                       
                                    
                                   But though they showed him what to do
                                               And gave him Sobbing Lessons, too . . .
                                               "It's hard," explained the little tree
                                               In shy and shamed apology,
                                                "It's hard to act forlorn and sad
                                               When one is feeling young and glad!"
                                               The others wept; but small and daft,
                                              The Youngest Willow laughed and laughed!
                                                                       
               
                                                                                 Grace Lawrence
                                     

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