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Sharing the Afternoon

Now that we have uncovered the secret cache of guest posts, we’ll begin sharing them with you. Today’s post is from Lori Nawyn. Her essays, articles, and short stories have appeared in regional and national publications. Her first novel, My Gift to You, was released in 2010. In addition to writing, she works as a free-lance artist and illustrated the award-winning children’s picture book What Are You Thinking? She blogs at Hearts and Hands.

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We sat on her sofa, vintage needlepoint pillows tucked behind our backs. She sat on the loveseat, bent slightly forward with age and intent.

She wanted to share stories of her life.

Her first love. Her second. Both men nine years older than her; the first became her husband and, after his death, the second dashing suitor to capture her heart won her hand as well.

She told us tales of adventure. She had traveled the world, countries too numerous for arthritis-ravaged fingers and ageing mind to count. There were evidences of her journeys on every wall, table, and bookshelf in sight.

Exotic vases. Colorful porcelain birds. Well-crafted clocks of all sizes.

Carvings of Oriental origin.

Indian paintings and attire.

Statuettes of giraffes and elephants.

On the coffee table at our knees was a small, wooden bust of an African woman. Her soulful eyes looked out at us as from carved bondage as our hostess told of Kenya in 1996. Before the unrest, she said. She saw animals too numerous for her camera to capture. Lions that, at first, appeared as tame as “pussy cats.” If the door to the safari jeep was opened, they leapt to their feet, ready to challenge. She and her second husband stayed at a place owned by William Holden. He is dead now—both her husband and Bill Holden—they followed her first spouse to the grave. She is glad she visited the country when she did . . . she will never go again.

The clocks ticked off the seconds of our stay, grains of sand slipping through the fingers of time. She served us a delicacy of jazz saxophone and honey smooth vocals, favorite tunes shimmering on the last rays of summer afternoon.

Then she led us outside.

Thirty-five years of carefully planted perennials flowed up the terraced hillside behind her home. A creek bed that once fed a waterfall was dry and withered. It reminded me of the woman herself; the dearth seemed to pulse with its desire to be full and alive once more.

Native grasses and new bursts of sagebrush erupted in the higher terraces, the mountain reclaiming what the woman had, in her younger years, borrowed for her own. I studied her smile-worn face, wind blowing short wisp-curls of silver-grey hair around her forehead. She was as beautiful as her pictures of Kenyan gazelle, and, like the photos, fading. The tender lover, world traveler, gentle gardener, had aged gracefully but, just like the moment, all too soon I knew she would slip away.

To join her true loves.

And William Holden.

13 thoughts on “Sharing the Afternoon”

  1. Lori,

    Lovely imagery. I could see images of a visit I had with a similar person. Your post showed beautifully how transitory this life is! I especially liked the idea of how she borrowed land from the mountain in her garden.

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  2. The Asian culture is so right to say that when you have an elderly person in your home that you have a gem. I appreciated the glimpse into her life.

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  3. I was deeply touched by this woman and during our visit wished I would have had my camera so I could attempt to capture her true beauty. In writing about her I tried to choose details I would have most wanted to photograph…

    Sincere thanks for all your comments.

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  4. What richness and wisdom we can gain from those who are nearly ready to begin their new life. I would have loved to have known more about her two husbands. And her life with them. And her children.

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  5. Beautiful post, Lori. I loved the gentleness and richness of your words, the tenderness of your descriptions. Lovely.

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  6. Lori – amazing imagery and language. "Native grasses and new bursts of sagebrush erupted in the higher terraces, the mountain reclaiming what the woman had, in her younger years, borrowed for her own." Loved that. You have a gift.

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  7. The imagery in your piece was very moving. I felt a little nostalgic having just returned from Africa myself. But comparing her life to the garden was especially good to me. We all want to leave a legacy, showing we were interesting people. Thanks for the lovely writing.

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