Wow, over two months since last post. Not that I haven’t thought about any number of things I’ve wanted to write any number of times, just haven’t for one reason or another. But today is a sunny albeit chilly day so I have more natural energy but lounging outside not an option. I have only 2 (minor) things on my agenda, my hair is freshly washed. All a recipe for good blogging. Or at least, blogging.
I’ve spent some time out at Anna’s bench these last weeks, and am compelled to report that it seems it is getting some attention in that people must be finding it and sitting for a spell. Previously, there was a lightly trodden but clear semi-circular path around the meadow as people strayed from the main path to take in the view. Anna’s bench sits roughly 12 feet off that path, tucked away a bit closer to the woods so as to feel more protected, safer, intimate. Now though, there are definitive well-beaten paths directly to her bench, with a little offshoot to the figurative edge of the meadow as people take in the steep dropoff to the creek below. I have to say, there is a deep, calming, almost celebratory satisfaction in knowing that people are coming. Every time someone finds it, reads the plaque, sits and breaths it all in, they are visiting her. Recognizing her. She exists just a little more every time, even if it’s the same person visiting. Twas the purpose of the bench after all - to declare her physically. To steal just a little space for her in the universe through people’s awareness that she was here and that she meant (so much more than) Something.
Memoir continues to be my reading material of choice, one of my latest being “The Long Good-bye” by Meghan O’Rourke, detailing her journey through her mother’s death from cancer. At one point she’s visiting Brooklyn’s Botanical Gardens, a place her family had gone as a child. She writes, "I followed the flow, noting the benches and trees dedicated in memory of someone. I'd never understood the point of such benches. Now I did. (One day in college, I was sitting on a bench in my dorm's courtyard, when an old man approached me. "Do you like to sit here?", he asked me. "Sometimes," I said. "It's nice in the sun." "I put this bench here in memory of my son," he said. He patted the warm stone.)"
It’s not that I never understood the point of memorial benches per se, I just haven’t understood so viscerally their great importance to the family that put them there. In reading the passage I felt a kinship to that old man, so pleased to witness someone who was, essentially, enjoying his son. I understand.