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A chicken named Herman and other favorites…

By Melonie Cannon

Today something special happened to me. I made time for my friend. It is not something that I tend to do, but I am learning. We went to lunch and as I watched her tender face light up while she explained a short story she was working on, I wanted to hold the moment- just freeze it there in blissful ice. For two hours we sat under the umbrella of friendship, chewing on our life’s stories with the beef and vegetable soup.

Between the two of us, Veloy has lived longer. She recently turned ninety. Her age is more than her weight of eight-four pounds. She has been a widow for almost two decades. We call each other soul sisters. She loves drama and writing and has won poetry contests. She loves motorcycles and recently took a Harley ride through the mountains to see the autumn leaves. Veloy was a magician’s assistant to her husband for forty years, so she mastered disappearing, being dismembered, reassembled, and keeping a secret. She has traveled the world and caught joy everywhere she went. When her husband passed, she was able to keep her head afloat by selling their vast antique collection – including two horse-drawn hearses, a post office, an original firetruck, a square piano, two trains, and a cannon. She said, “I have had some hard times, but I’ve had a good life. I recently started writing down all the good moments I had in my life. When you focus on those, everything seems to be better and you forget about the hard times.” I asked her to tell me more.

veloyandme

She told me about the pet chicken she had as a child that followed her everywhere she went. It happened to be the same name as her future husband – Herman. She told me about being bitten on the finger by a monkey and having to go to her Dad and trying to explain. She talked about the last days in the hospital with Herman. As I listened to her, I reflected on the favorite moments in my life. Jodi Picoult said, “Do you know how there are moments when the world moves so slowly you can feel your bones shifting, your mind tumbling? When you think that no matter what happens to you for the rest of your life, you will remember every last detail of that one minute forever?” One minute is not long, but it is enough. It is enough time to pull you out of the day to day running and pushing and pulling that we do from the moment our feet hit the ground to when we pull them back under the covers.

It’s called transcendence. They are moments as thin as a razor’s edge.

The first time I tasted a Belgian chocolate in Brugge, my legs went weak and I had to lean against a wall to finish it off because I was so overwhelmed by the taste. It was like all the first kisses of the universe wrapped under gold foil. Once someone I loved ran his finger along my collarbone and it burned like fire. The night before I left Florence, Italy, I sat on an ancient wall with my legs wrapped around my boyfriend and we watched the stars reflect on the Arno river. They seemed like fireworks because my tears blended the light and water like a watercolor painting. I’ve awakened to find my toddler’s face close to mine and the morning lavender light highlighting his innocence and sleep so perfectly that I never wanted the moment to end. I remember one particular favorite moment when I had finished doing a show as a second-rate actor and as I was driving away from the venue, I had the distinct feeling that if I turned left my life would go one way (toward a relationship) and if I turned right, my life would go another direction (to the unknown), and I got to choose. I paused at the stop-sign and in the beauty of that gift from God and got to ask myself what I really wanted. I turned left and have been with that man every day since for the last twenty-three years.

I don’t seem to put much importance on the quotidian tasks of my life, but if I could string my favorite moments together over the last (almost) forty-seven years, I think I would see that my inner life was more magical than anything I could have dreamed of when I was young. My inner and outer lives run on parallel tracks, both with different destinations. When they do happen to cross, the moment hangs in the air like a round ripe apple on a tree. I get to pick it and put it in my collection basket. (As Veloy entitled her winning poem), I become a “memory merchant” and like Veloy, I could say, “It’s been a beautiful life.”

Remember, they are called moments because they do not last very long, but the “small silent moments are the true story-making events of our lives.” (Douglas Coupland)

Describe to me one of your favorite moments (and make it last):

About Melonie Cannon

Melonie has surrounded herself with beautiful words for as long as she can remember. This led her to find a home with Segullah after writing an essay published in the May 2006 Segullah issue. She was invited to join the staff and has been a part of Segullah in various capacities since, including being the creator of the “Words Fall In” podcast.  She received her M.Ed from the University of Utah and was a certified Secondary English teacher before becoming a Mom of four. Over the years, her focus has been on natural healing modalities and becoming a sacred sound healing practitioner with a focus on the drum, rhythm, voice, and vibration. She is finishing her PH.D. in theology and metaphysics to further these studies and help women to connect to the divine within themselves.

9 thoughts on “A chicken named Herman and other favorites…”

  1. The northern California coast has a lot of small secluded beaches. Portuguese Beach was my favorite. If you're willing to wade out into the waves and climb the big rock (I mean BIG) you can sit in a niche near the top, hidden from view, and pray and sing and nap as long as the sun is up. (It's too dangerous to get down in the dark.) Several decades ago, that was my favorite spot, my favorite moments, alone with my God in the middle of His majestic world. I have other favorite spots now, but moments alone with God, especially surrounded by natural beauty, are still my favorite moments.

    (And Mel, thank you for sharing your moment at the intersection. I'm at one now. It's a beautiful and frightening thing to realize that God gives us complete freedom to choose, trusting us (more than we trust ourselves) to choose well.)

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  2. Oh, Melonie, *this* was transcendent! Thank you for your luscious prose and for sparking so many memories of the “small silent moments [that] are the true story-making events of our lives.” (Douglas Coupland)

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  3. This is luscious writing. Chills.

    Fourteen staring at the cinder block wall at the middle school where the papers were posted with masking tape. Who made the cut for the high school choir. I was stunned, my name wasn't listed with the freshman chorus. I was shocked, stunned. Where was my name. I looked over the sheet again. It was at the top and I hadn't seen it, because I was looking at the bottom. My name was listed in the octet of freshman invited to the chamber choir. Eighth grade was hard, I often like an outsider. I soared at the belief that someone saw more potential in me that I knew I ever had.Mrs. Rice heard me and believed in me and let me know I belonged. I knew in that moment that high school would be better.

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  4. Loved this! Love you!
    My favorite memory of the day was when I was a child we would lay a blanket on our lawn and look at the stars. The smell of the grass, the talks or just the peace of quiet. I long for those moments.

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  5. I read this today before going to a retirement center to visit an older friend. I kept wondering if I had time or not….this post sealed the deal for me. Now I'm ready to get in the car and go. 🙂 Thanks Melonie.

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  6. This was beautiful.

    One of mine was after we made a move that was hard for me, I discovered a trail that I fell immediately in love with. The morning after I found it, I ran it and as I hit the summit, the sun broke over the hills. It felt like a gift from my Father, who was telling me that I would have hard and beautiful all mixed together in this new part of my life. And I have.

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  7. Devastated, staring up at the night sky, where the moon and a weird star and atmospheric magic made it look like a huge eye looking down at me – an eye that had the same placement of an odd fleck as mine. Kissing in the rain. Walking into the Atlantic ocean, my sons on the other side of the planet.

    Stunning piece, Mel. Thanks for the gift of encouraging remembering my memories.

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  8. I had delivered my third child-a boy- naturally, for the first time and was discharged from the hospital 3 hours later. I was so excited to sleep at home in my own bed. I remember the drive home and feeling absolutely amazing (which was always my favorite…nothing like finally not being pregnant anymore after a very long, very difficult pregnancy. It makes the gift at the end all the more precious). The next morning was Mother's Day, a beautiful, perfect spring day. I awoke to the breaking light of morning seeping through my windows. My newborn babe was in my arms sleeping next to me. We had both slept a full 7 hours. The house was quiet and still as the other children were away. I was still on cloud nine from the natural high of the night before. Even birds were outside my window singing as if to bring in more joy to this momentous occasion. I remember trying to soak it all in as much as possible so I could always, *always* remember that moment. Some days when parenting and adulthood are overwhelming, I picture that perfect scene in my mind again and it brings a great amount of calmness to my body. A small moment with monumental greatness.

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