She spent some sober moments over a cut on the finger. It was an important finger ("Mary, this finger is my BEST useful") belonging to the world's clearly most adorable child, a seven year old girl with wire rim glasses, long hair, big eyes and a serious inclination.
Then there was the worry about rigging the curtain for the fifth annual backyard theater production. Here are highlights from last year. It is a full throttle all family, all friends and neighbors event involving many children, set design, audience, costumes, choreography and more. Every afternoon and evening, a bevy of young people come to produce, stage, design and star in their own theater show. On Saturday, over 100 people will gather for the performance.
The Matron, bless her, is in charge of food and leaves all that other stuff to Scarlett.
But yesterday, Scarlett and her friend Elle spent some time pondering the expanse of the curtain, how it draped and fell and shaded, what was right and needed perfecting. This took more time than yours truly had imagined. The girls felt the need to discuss all this with the Matron, who was chomping at the bit to get 'back to work.'
Then there were the problems with overalls for orphans in Annie (that's the play). Many needed alteration and device, pins and thread and needles. Again, time stalling as the parents attended to the whims and worries of children.
In the midst of all this -- while the Matron was, admittedly, impatient and determined to move on with life instead of tending to children and the massive family centered, kid-focused theater event she helped create (and now slightly dreaded) -- she noticed her across-the-street neighbors returning home.
From a funeral.
These are people who build stuff for a living. They do film and commercials -- the wife is a creative director and the husband builds sets.
The Matron has lived across the street from them for seven years and never once seen the man of the house outside of wardrobe completely utilitarian. Here is a man who hauls, hammers, cements, envisions and builds not only for a living, but when he's home. He's a truck and boat kind of guy, the person you want at your back when your car is under five feet of snow. When he's not in a t-shirt and jeans building stuff at work, he's doing the same at home. Their yard is a beautiful jungle, an adventuresome collection of foliage, flower and construction.
Yesterday, she watched as this couple emerged from a truck (no way would they have a car) after saying good-bye to someone they loved, deeply. He was in a stunning, impeccable gray suit; she was similarly outfitted. They were quiet and internally focused; they didn't notice the Matron pause while refilling water balloons for the 15 children running through the front yard.
She was sobered by the juxtaposition: here, in the midst of chaos, children, delight and energy, all possibilities unbound and optimistic and there, just across the street, the march toward the death we all face and the interminable loss of those we love.
Then the husband opened the back of the truck and hauled out a box full of shrubbery and flowers.
"Back at it?" he called to his wife.
Of course, she said.
That's life. The future, the moment, the unimaginable end. The getting on with what's in front of us.
This realization allowed the Matron to return to the play, cut --the useful finger--the curtain and all the rest with new appreciation, and a wee bit of joy and an awareness of her own brevity.