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At 7:30 A.M., I awoke with this dream:

Suddenly, I’m aware of giggling and being hugged by my five-year old brother Mark, his warm body wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals, the cowlick at his hairline giving him a striking appearance.

I’ll never know if “Mark” really visited me, or whether he represents a projection of the happy child from my unconscious. Either way, I perceive the dream as gift to be cherished.

He passed on July 21, 2017.

I miss him …

Wind-besotted rains knocked white petals from the Bradford pear tree across the street and patterned the new grass with curlicues. Nearby, browning blossoms from magnolia trees cluster in piles along the plank fence and upon the patio furniture. Daffodils along the road, once trumpeters of spring’s surprise, resemble pinched cheeks of dowagers still intent upon preening in the sun for the kiss of youth.

However, with colors fading comes disintegration, then melding into the earth; its “Ah!” gets lodged within memory. There will be another spring, I used to say, soothing my grief and anticipating the flowering of summer’s riotous colors—just a matter of time.

So time is the culprit disrobing natural beauty of its window into the Sacred. Tinges of sadness emerge. No one knows if they will see another spring. Photos can freeze that fleeting glance, but it’s not the same. Gone is the energy. 

Such awareness begs for acceptance. Especially is this true for my terminal illness like a deadly insect slowly devouring my lungs. Yet, with my helpers, I still groom and dress myself as if I’ve a full day of errands to run. Another friend styles my silver hair. 

So like the single cluster of pear blossoms on the tree, I’m still here, waiting until nudged elsewhere.

“Once upon a time in a distant land, but not that far away, lived…” So opens fairy tales fraught with cosmic clashes between good and evil, useful for today’s conflict resolution if properly studied in depth; and so opens listeners’ imaginations, hungry for worlds mirroring their own. Life has always been hard, and still is.

So how did these fairy tales as we know them come about?

In nineteenth-century Germany the spread of literacy and the improvement of indoor illumination began usurping the role of itinerant storytellers carrying tales of mystery from village to village. Such had been their practice for hundreds of years. Into this changing world came Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, both philologists, who recorded and first published their tales in 1812; their volume fire-stormed collectors from other countries, worldwide, to do likewise.

It would be interesting to track the accretions to the fairy tale “The Two Brothers,” before the Grimm’s Brothers recorded it. Twenty pages long, it contains the classic elements found in fairy tales: good/evil, golden egg-laying bird, a King, a Princess, their castle, talking animals, a fire-spitting seven-headed dragon, a witch, an enchanted forest, magic potions, contests, and trickery—Even the use of numbering to facilitate the memory of the storyteller. This fairy tale could have ended in several places, but seamlessly, it continued on and satisfied its listeners, and still does.

Unlike the integrity of the Grimm’s Brothers cherished tales, our collectors of stories—journalists—play havoc with truth, their intent to rouse fear and manipulate imaginations, rather than ennoble them. I wonder which version of the spin-doctors’ palaver, if any, will be remembered one hundred years from now.

 

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