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March 11, 2011

Spring, Come On!

Roy Meachum

Winter couldn’t have been worse behind my yellow door on North Market Street. My age takes much of the blame. Some friends didn’t help.


Approaching my 83rd birthday, in October, the thought occurs that youth is all about grabbing and sharing life, especially people. We grow old all by ourselves, clutching for friends as they disappear; sometimes moving out of town. Above my desk, a richly embossed icon salutes those years when Russian scientists came-and-went; now they’re all gone. Their pictures remain in kitchen montages.


My “real” children all live within an hour and a half from Frederick. We see each other most holidays; their days and nights preoccupied with making their ways, in approximate imitation of their father. Those who came to be regarded as “sons” transported their families for better economic opportunities or better climates; we talk on the phone now and again.


Readers came to know my “French daughter” from columns written in visits to Venezuela, Paris, Dhaka and Kuala Lumpur. Frederick Memorial Hospital-born Kevin seeks a career within range of the Arch of Triumph’s Etoile district; sister Diane’s off to Italy for a Florence semester away from Washington’s Corcoran, where she studies design, and baby Tibault manages to make himself invisible the second year in College Park. Their mother’s handling middle-life problems in her house in Bethesda.


The other way friends disappear is dying, of course. As I’ve declared several times I know many more people under the ground than walking around on top. That’s really what my memoir is all about. “A Redneck’s Progress” commemorates men and women who glorified my past; in the writing I’ve not reached the present and Pushkin.


The best omen of coming spring is blooming pansies on the patio; my friend Curtice planted nine bunches last week when we visited Home Depot last week to buy blue paint for the stoop. In January, some guy spilled some liquid that caused a blister, unmasking the concrete that lies underneath.


Having suffered through the second winter since Dr. Bobby Fisher replaced my right knee, that’s enough. Because the 18th century log house covered with 19th century bricks sits directly on Market, Frederick’s Historic District Commission must rule on the request to attach a single iron rail to lift myself from the sidewalk. Negotiating the single, high step caused me to fall at least twice; I’ve learned to lean well toward the yellow door to bound-up, almost literally. Getting together all the bureaucratic forms, and in sufficient quantities, is not easy. Having the stoop new blue and the small brick flower garden yellow certainly boosts my morale.


Speaking of the operation, it was made very clear that I would have problems kneeling, but nobody involved in the surgical procedure warned I might have great difficulty standing, if fallen. The first time was in the kitchen where a chair and the table enabled me to scoot up to my feet, after a few minutes passed out on the floor. Last week I was not so lucky; fortunately my cell phone went down with me in the bathroom. With police help, Curtice brought medics to the second floor to rescue me.


That was the day after my friend picked out the stoop’s blue paint and planted the pansies on the patio.


As I said, I’ve had better winters. Come on, spring.


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