2018-01-31 / Columns

A collage of life’s miracles to brighten the heart


He watches as I tear through the elegant wrapping paper, too impatient to attempt to salvage it. My husband seems anxious in both senses of the word.

I’m ready to say that his birthday gift is perfect, exactly what I wanted, no matter what.

I open the tiny box, and inside, on a cushion of velvet, rests a bracelet almost identical to the one I had lost two years ago. It has the same antique look, the delicate little pearls and gemstones, and the safest catch known to humankind.

“It will never slip off,” he said proudly, remembering my grief at losing that bracelet I had cherished.

Only later on did I learn that Vic had spent hours and then days looking for the closest match he could find to the one gone missing.

And this is a man who hates shopping.

There are still miracles.

• • •

It’s the Sunday morning after the Saturday night when the company stayed until 1 a.m. I stumble downstairs with a sinking heart, remembering those regrettable words, “We’ll clean up tomorrow.”

The daughter who has been visiting for the weekend is sitting at the kitchen table with a megawatt smile on her face. She has cleared and scraped, loaded the dishwasher twice and emptied it twice, even cleaned the coffee pot.

Every last thing is in its place. Every counter has been cleared.

Amy has turned angel.

My cup runneth over.

• • •

Our grandson Danny is standing behind the tallest kid in his middle school class. He is barely visible. Suddenly, he steps forward to the front of the stage in this play about the countries of the world, the culmination of a social studies unit. It’s a bigger deal than usual, with music and special effects.

I know that outgoing as he is, Danny hates performing.

But with courage that brings a lump to my throat, this grandson recites his lines perfectly, his cheeks flushed with excitement. He’s done it—he’s made his performance on stage without a hitch.

He steps back to his place, stage left, and I could swear he’s grown three inches.

And no one can convince me that he hasn’t.

• • •

The complicated recipe for apricot chicken has turned out perfectly. The wild rice finishes at the same time as the spinach soufflé, and the croutons in the salad aren’t soggy.

The house looks lovely in the glow of candlelight, and the corkscrew didn’t get stuck in the wine. Our guests are bonding joyfully at this reunion of my husband’s college friends.

Most of all, we’re here. Alive. Reasonably healthy.

The weeks of email exchanges, calendar checks and endless phone calls have ended. The party has come off without a hitch, and men no longer in their youth are back together again. The reminiscing is balm to aging bodies and souls.

Life is beautiful.

• • •

My elderly widow friend is sounding blue. And who can blame her?

The arthritis that has invaded her lovely fingers is acting up.

So many of her friends are gone, so many are ailing.

The high-rise city apartment building where she lives feels like a prison.

And then out of the blue, somebody sends her a rose. A single rose. No card. No explanation.

But suddenly, R’s voice is back to its usual bounce. Her spirits are soaring.

One rose. One pink miracle.

• • •

Our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren have descended on us on a Sunday afternoon when, miraculously, everyone is available.

No one has soccer practice. Nobody’s life is out of kilter, and even the three teens among us seem delighted with the state of their worlds.

We seem to be laughing more, talking more, and sharing more on this ordinary Sunday. There’s a burnished glow to the day that’s impossible to explain, but we all feel it.

After accepting that college boys on breaks don’t hug their grandmothers in public, Jonah suddenly throws his arms around my neck. Years slip away, and he’s six again. Except that he has a beard now!

I don’t dare move. It’s downright indecent, this burst of joy.

And it reminds me that yes…there are still miracles! 


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