Archive for June, 2016

High Hopes of the Longest Day

Posted in Uncategorized on June 21, 2016 by michaelcogdill

Seventy years ago today, my parents drove to Clayton, Georgia and got married.  Drove roads fit for Matchbox Cars, through gorges the sun seldom finds, into a little town the vast majority of New  York City doesn’t know is there.  That summer solstice, June 21, they were both in the dew of being young and foolish and wonderful.  The longest day of the year must have seemed the most hopeful day of their lives.  

But they had their share of the blues together. Hospitals and too little money and setting out for work way before Dawn drew back the shades.  Had my mom toughened her love, turned from his inner darkness rather than trying to be his entire light, I doubt his sobriety would have taken so long to arrive. Who knows. But speculation isn’t what counts. What counts is what is.

We write and speak forlornly of having the blues.  Yet blue is beautiful — comes in shades of night and day.   So much that’s alive and lovely in between.

On this 70th anniversary of their marriage, I find myself leaning into the shades of my parents’ blues.  The dark blue-mountain clefts of that romance that found it’s “I do” on a long summer day.  Dark at times they were.  Very.   But in the end, they were lovely. Many shadings of light and tender flower. For them, blue is no color of lonesome. It is the paint work of a love fit only for Divine hands.  Where there is darkness upon their canvas — even that formed by their very nearness to one another — they found light.

Zelda Fitzgerald said the following thing, and I find it so fitting a salute to my mom and dad and their long-ago coupling.  This quote talks about seeing and tasting the essence of the other, not just the name or the mind or the tuxedo and gown.  It speaks of seeing and hearing and loving beyond the senses. My mom and dad became no mere names to one another.  They were, in the end, like this:

“I don’t suppose I really know you very well – but I know you smell like the delicious damp grass that grows near old walls, and that your hands are beautiful opening out of your sleeves, and that the back of your head is a mossy sheltered cave when there is trouble in the wind, and that my cheek just fits the depression in your shoulder.  Zelda Fitzgerald

Such a fitting is not found in any settled dust, but the stirring of it.  It is found in the endurance of being young, re-creating ourselves over and over, rattling the dust of ennui off our shoes.  My parents were, I’m only beginning to see, old and hardened by life in my youth — the middle of their lives.  But they found their volcanic surge of  happy late.  Not all do.  It took selflessness, vulnerable hearts, a deep sense of I’m-truly-sorry and a showing of I-can-be-better-than-ever-I-even-hoped.   Their imperfect hands were beautiful from the sleeves of a freedom they created for themselves.  A re-creation they each did for themselves, not the other.  Only then could they tell how well her cheek fit the depression of my dad’s shoulder.  How lovely their clasped hands hung on for dear life, and not for show.

Happy anniversary, to my mom and dad. Thank you for still teaching me to be a man who keeps the boy alive within. Thank you for the many hues of life, blues and all. If mortal love, in all its silks and sackcloth and tatters, comes in many inner colors, my soul wears a shirt in the shades of Eden.  A fine hand me down from both of you.

Godspeed the enduring spirit of George Cogdill. I love and I miss you so much, especially now.  Damn those cigarettes, but bless every moment you cherished of the life they took from you, and me, and from this world.

And God, safeguard the feet of Polly Cogdill, still dancing nearly every day.  One foot always on that Honda accelerator. Ms. Polly, as she’s known, still teaches her son how best to travel as a strong and gentle man.

On this, the year’s longest day in my beloved summertime, I have the highest hopes, born of a mom and dad.  They went to Clayton, Georgia, and got married.  Then, they commenced learning how to fall in love.