TITLE: From tennis balls to sepia rainbows Feb 8, 2016
By Jane Hoppe
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From ink-black starless expanse under fleecy blankets I peek at red 3:20 blinking into 3:21, then 4:20. I roll into day that is still night, to-do list heavy on my mind. Taking my morning pills in the dark, I hum, “Alleluia, Christ … something, something …” Oh, where are my words? I apologize to the Lord for paltry praise. Maybe sweet song will awake later.
First order of business. My physical therapists have been telling me for weeks to put a tennis ball in a sock to smooth knots from my shoulder blades. But I haven’t wanted to waste the other two balls in the can on the off-chance arthritic knees will allow me to play the sport I love so much—and frankly, was pretty good at—again someday. At my PT session this afternoon, however, I would be embarrassed to repeat my excuse. I pad down into dim gray basement to face disappointment and anguished, ironic flashbacks of fluorescent yellow orbs sliding on polished nursing home floors under my dad’s walker. Fuzzy orbs that only a few short years earlier had pinged from his racquet down the line into his opponent’s backcourt. Four cans, blanketed with gray dust, lay on my shelf. Two cans of Penns, two cans of Wilsons. I choose a can of Wilsons to waste today because in my old sporting days I thought Penns held their bounce longer.
As long as I’m in the basement, I copy from the original lamp carton all the specs for the natural spectrum light bulb I need to find to replace the one that burnt out, way too soon for a fairly new lamp. With this note and the tennis ball can, I head up to the first floor. So that I don’t forget to take the lamp specs to the second floor to Google the nearest Menards, I put the little note on those stairs.
I stand the tennis ball can on the kitchen counter next to my pot of morning tea. Bracing for the whooshing release of all that pent-up newness, I peel off the plastic lid to find this can was opened years ago. Plucking out an old Wilson 4, I press it into a wall with my shoulder blade. Aaah. Relief. Reluctant new life for stale tennis balls. Flashback from my old sporting days: “Excuse me, Court 2, would you mind tossing me my Wilson 4? It’s just behind your baseline.” Sigh.
Wondering what next to check off my to-do list, I stare into limpid brown tea in the black Bose mug we got free fourteen years ago with the new, exciting, expensive Bose stereo system. Well, at least the mug still works. Planned obsolescence—the discordant soundtrack of our lives.
A roar splits the stillness as an ambulance streaks by, its red light strobing gray flannel skies. “Jesus, please help whoever’s in trouble.” Thanks to Sister Mary Annrita’s suggestion in 1963, countless nameless emergency victims and personnel have received lobbed prayers. Have they mattered? Only God knows. “His eye is on the sparrow …” so I’m guessing yes. Going upstairs, I flip on a lamp, so weak compared with the bulb that flickered out yesterday. I decide to pay bills.
The coaster in this room has yesterday’s tepid tea mug on it, so I set the Bose mug of hot tea on the short stack of Christmas cards I haven’t yet discarded. The top card is a sepia photo of a rainbow arcing heavenward. When I received the card, I found a rainbow without its traditional seven colors dull. Today, however, I see its beauty. The rainbow isn’t faded. The sepia tone is intentional. Hmmm.
I scrawl my physical therapy copay on a check to the hospital. I’ve been debating whether to join Sister Cities this year because I no longer have enough energy to attend meetings. Maybe my small 2016 dues might make a difference in someone’s international friendship, so I write the check.
Next? It’s almost time to get Valentines in the mail, so I pull out a few left over from ten-packs I’ve purchased in previous Februarys. I always like to send them to the young people in my life. I don’t remember receiving Valentines from them; maybe they find nonromantic Valentine greetings weird, I don’t know. But I figure it can’t hurt to tell people you love them and they’re special to you, and to God. My aunt and my mother always sent Valentines to us kids, and they made a difference. I thrilled to receive all the pink and red flourishes and gushy words. And if they had glitter on them—oh, bright joy. Say, I have glitter and glue, too. Maybe this year I will supplement my V stash with handmade cards—I could even cut Valentine shapes out of colorful Christmas cards, which I just happen to have under the Bose mug. And I could use heart stickers my aunt left behind.
Dawn is snowy gray today but still more light than night to shine on my giggly, girlish brainstorm.
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