A friend writes, “Humans have penetrated almost every corner of the planet, figured out how to fly, built skyscrapers and submarines, artificial hearts and yet, emotions still baffle us, …
A friend writes, “Humans have penetrated almost every corner of the planet, figured out how to fly, built skyscrapers and submarines, artificial hearts and yet, emotions still baffle us, sleeping dreams are (often) incomprehensible (and) the nature of love continues to remain a mystery.”
At Carol Creamer’s funeral service last month, Rev. Phyllis Haynes (“Call me Phyllis”) said the word many times. Love was what Carol embodied. For her husband Bernie, yes. For her grandchildren, most definitely. But Carol’s love was not limited. It shone around her like a beacon. It infused her every interaction with her neighbors and friends and co-workers. What was it that made her able to show love so easily?
One day, years ago, as I was riding my bike in the Flats, I fell and hit my head hard, scraped up my leg a bit. My husband was not at home and I was halfway between my house and Carol’s. She was just a neighbor then. She liked to wave as I passed her house walking my little dog Aengus. Instinctively, I hobbled to Carol’s house after picking myself up. She welcomed me in, patched up my bloody leg and gave me the concussion once-over. She was a retired nurse and knew the dangers of a head injury better than I did. When I had rested a bit, Bernie drove me home. Later that evening, the phone rang and it was Carol. “Just checking to see if you’re OK,” she said. I think she called again in the morning.
My instincts were right about her. Not only was she a nurse, she exuded warmth and human connection. When my friend Kara bought the house across the street from Bernie and Carol, she was immediately welcomed as a friend.
I often wonder what makes some people able to radiate love the way Carol did. She was not without challenges in her life. Her own parents declined to attend her wedding to Bernie. (He was Catholic! And Irish!) Yet she accepted people for who they were, not what they practiced in church. Or what color their skin was. She had religious faith but I don’t think it was that alone that made her able to show her love in thousands of little ways.
At her funeral, her granddaughters wept openly. A great-granddaughter was an infant-in-arms. Bernie said, “I can’t cry anymore.” They had been married for 65 years.
She loved their home on the river here in Narrowsburg. When she wasn’t able to get out and walk because of her health, they built a deck so she could sit outside and watch the birds and the waterfall across the river. She was one of the first people to read my husband’s newly published book just weeks before she died. She welcomed family and friends alike and never seemed put off by an impromptu visit. She was delighted to see my granddaughter, even asleep in her stroller, when I stopped by on a walk.
A poet friend once said that language itself was born as an expression of love. I watch my granddaughter Rosie as she babbles and coos, as she quiets when she hears me sing to her. I think she feels the love in our words. I hope she grows to radiate love the way Carol did.
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