Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday Musings, 31 October 2015

Good morning,

Scott Simon tells me that it's Weekend Edition on NPR news. I munch on a rice cake with chunky almond butter and eye my coffee with suspicion.  I have at least two medical conditions which will protest my ingestion of this French Market chicory roast, but it pleases me to drink it.  I take the risks.

Last night's loss by the Royals to the Mets only slightly dampened the gathering which I attended.  Hard-core  believers, Rotarians and their spouses, ordered pizza and blue drinks (on special) and chatted as only folks in their middle-age can chat.  I drifted between the clusters of four or five, welcomed at each table but staying nowhere for long.  I do not feel excluded but I do not feel like inserting myself.  I'm fine with flitting.

Now it's Halloween and the day of Game four of the World Series.  I've been invited to a costume party.  I don't have a plan but I have five or six hours to devise one.  I'll get a mask and wear a long dress.  People can ruminate over what I portray.  While I'm at the paper goods store, I'll buy a bag of candy to give the little kids who will knock on my door before seven, if any remain in the neighborhood.  Whatever is left, I will take for the children sure to be at the party with their parents.  I'm practicing to be a grandmother; grandmothers always carry treats for the kiddos.  Grandmothers and old maids.

I think about Halloweens gone by: My son as Batman; Power Ranger; a hobo; a zombie.  One year we trick-or-treated with his daycare provider in her neighborhood with her husband and their children.   She left a large tin bowl of candy bars on their stoop before we trudged away to start door-bell ringing.  I questioned the wisdom of that but said nothing.  What would stop the first kid to arrive from taking the whole lot?  Nothing, I supposed; nothing but manners.  I wondered about that.  I must have been more of a skeptic than Diane.

The last year that anyone went out into the neighborhood from my home must have been 2004.  I had a  rule that begging for candy stopped at 13.  That year, my son and his friends put on costumes and trick-or-treated for UNICEF with the Alongis, a family which lived on nearby Rockhill Road whose boys were near the age of mine.  Kathy Alongi came dressed as a lion.  I painted the faces of my son and his friends.  Dennis, my husband at that time, clipped a tail to the back of his wheelchair.  Kathy's husband Joe did not wear a costume but he carried a large flashlight.

I stood on the steps of our porch and watched them walk into the night, holding the collection cans.  Kathy wore a padded coat over her lion's fur to guard against the light rain.  The five boys scampered ahead:  Phillip and James Alongi, my son Patrick, and the friends who formed my son's village, Chris and Maher.  Kathy's frail arm linked through Joe's sturdier one.  Dennis in his power chair brought up the rear, twitching tiger tail catching a swirl of leaves from time to time.

A wave of tenderness washed over me as I stood on the steps of the Holmes house, watching that funny little group walk into the night to collect coins for charity.  When they had vanished around the corner, I went back into the house and raised the shades, so that any children who ventured into the night would know that they were welcome.

Now I hear a story of a man's death in one of our most recent terrible wars, described by his brother. U. S. Marine Rafael Peralta received the Navy Cross for shielding several Marines from a grenade in November 2004 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  I switch over to a Wikipedia site and read about the varying accounts of Sgt. Peralta's death.  I think, It doesn't matter which version is accurate.  This man, an immigrant from Mexico who enlisted as soon as he had his green card, died fighting as a member of our Armed Forces.  When I realize that this man died two weeks after my family's UNICEF Halloween, I wonder about life.

While we were counting the money which the boys raised that day, Rafael Peralta prepared to go into a situation far from home.  He willingly strode out into the frenzy, into a fight which he did not inspire but in which he engaged wearing the uniform of his adopted country.  He took his last breath on the sands of Iraq, far from home, far from the nation which he embraced, far from my little house, where I now sit, furnace roaring, radio playing, autumn leaves drifting to the ground outside my open blinds.  What a world.  What a world.

Mugwumpishly tendered.

Corinne Corley

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The Missouri Mugwump™

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I've been many things in my life: A child, a daughter, a friend; a wife, a mother, a lawyer and a pet-owner. I've given my best to many things and my worst to a few. I live in Brookside, in an airplane bungalow. I'm an eternal optimist and a sometime-poet. If I ever got a poem published in The New Yorker, I would die a happy woman. I'm a proud supporter of the Arts in Kansas City. I vote Democrat, fly the American flag, cry at Hallmark commercials, and recycle.