As I proceed with this thing called aging, I have become exquisitely sensitive to the pulse of my world and all the wonderful things in it. This means that when something changes, it has a profound impact on my psyche, something quite surprising for someone who used to LOVE change. To acknowledge the impact of changing beats, I present three beat stories that affected me deeply.
The little old stooped-back woman made her way purposefully down our neighborhood street, late, as usual, for the daily 7 a.m. Mass. Devoted to her old-school God, she made this trek no matter the weather. In winter she wore a too-big-coat from Goodwill and in summer, a too-small sweater from Salvation Army. I know these things because one day we crossed paths – me, jogging, and she, headed to the comfort and warmth of her church. But then it stopped being the neighborhood church. As the Catholic Church reinvented itself, this little church merged with two others, making a big, impersonal, non-cozy organization where Masses rotated among all three churches, including the daily Mass. The little old lady couldn’t walk to the other churches, and then she became sick and couldn’t even walk to her home church. She probably got sick from not walking as much. The rhythm changed when she stopped walking and the street became eerily empty at 7 a.m. each day.
On the next block over lives a lovely older gent who, every afternoon at precisely 4 p.m., walks by our house with his yellow lab. The man has a jaunty gait and he is one of the few dog walkers in our hood who picks up the poop. Some days I used to take my female Boston Terrier for a walk around the same time and we crossed paths. The lab was as friendly as only a friendly lab can be. He, of course, was more than enthusiastic about making my BT’s acquaintance, but she would have none of it. Her hackles went up and she howled in protective protest. The man and I smiled, and red faced, I made some lame excuse until I finally changed my walking time to avoid being rightly mortified. Still, I took comfort in watching the yellow lab and his man-person walk by our house every day at precisely 4 p.m., until one day they didn’t, nor the day after or the day after that. When I realized they weren’t passing anymore, I felt lost – a major beat in my daily rhythm had stopped. I couldn’t face the fact that something had happened to one of them and my song turned to silence.
A therapist I took my daughter to many moons ago likened a relationship she had with a former boyfriend of mine as being attached to a wire monkey. In other words, the little girl that she was then became attached to this man even though in her heart of hearts, she couldn’t stand him. I’ve had my share of wire monkeys and one such was a cashier in my local supermarket. This cashier was not terribly friendly, rarely cracked a smile, and had a way of making you feel like you were intruding on her. I was determined to crack her code and after many chirpy chats and cheerful (me) conversations, the code indeed broke. But then so did she. I haven’t seen her in months and the pulse of my grocery shopping experience has been forever changed — by a wire monkey!