Small Stories for a Big World: May 2017



In her final years, my mother had Alzheimer’s disease. Much of the time it was a grueling experience for her and for those of us who took care of her. From time to time, though, we would receive a gift. One came on a spring day when I was driving my mother down Miller Street. Looking out the car windows, she announced, “This is the most beautiful day ever.”

When she said it, my first impulse was to dismiss her observation. She didn’t remember other days. So how could she possibly know whether it was the most beautiful day ever?

But, as I looked out at the clouds in the blue sky and at the blooms on the trees, I realized that she was right. When you take a moment to stop and look, any day can be the most beautiful day ever. So, when I replied, I was absolutely sincere in saying, “You’re right. It is the most beautiful day ever.”

In the days to come, she would make that same observation again every once in a while. For whatever reason, it was usually while we were riding in the car. Whenever she said it, I would look around and see how alive the world was and say, “You’re right. It is the most beautiful day ever.”

And I would mean it.

In the years since she died, some spark of beauty will bring her comment to mind. And, whenever it does, I stop for a moment, take it all in and think, “It is the most beautiful day ever.”

Watching our cat Sherbert can also put me in mind of how wonderful and vast the world is. Ever since we found Sherbert as a tiny orange kitten outside our bathroom window, Sherbert has been an indoor cat.

So his experience of the wider world has been limited to whatever Blitz, our cat who does go out, may tell him and whatever he sees and hears though the windows and, when the weather is mild enough to open the back door, through the screen door.

Certainly, there is much to take in in the back yard—squirrels running along the top of the fence, rabbits hopping, birds landing in the trees or poking around on the ground for a snack, kids playing in the yard next door.

On this particular day, I was sitting on the bed folding clothes as Sherbert looked through the screen door. From that angle, I could see Sherbert at the door but very little of what he saw through it. All of a sudden, every hair on his body stood up. When I went over to look, I saw a squirrel right on the other side of the door.

From the door, it’s perhaps 9 inches to the ground. I don’t know whether the squirrel simply hadn’t looked up or what. Whatever the reason, the squirrel was completely oblivious to our presence. We watched as, just on the other side of the screen, he went about his squirrel business. Once his business was done, he scampered away.

I don’t think I have ever been closer to a live squirrel and I guess that was a first for Sherbert, too.

The experience reminded me of my mother and “the best day ever.” I thought about her for a minute and went back to folding clothes. Sherbert continued taking in the world through the screen door.


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