So, Mike’s going to play in a golf event this coming Monday. He used to play golf on weekends and enjoyed it a great deal, but now he wonders where he ever found the time to play. Last year he played in this same charity event. He doesn’t think his game was really that much worse than it had been 5 years previously when he last had played, but in these charity events you don’t keep your own score which is a good thing. He had bought new golf shoes just before he laid his clubs down, so he was surprised that by the time he got to the 1st green his shoes were falling apart, I suppose from dry rot. Luckily, the 2nd hole kind of went back to the clubhouse, and he ran up to the parking lot and put his sneakers back on. He has just bought a new pair of golf shoes which I’m sure won’t have time to dry rot before Monday.
The event is a fundraiser for The Extension, a long-term residential treatment program for homeless addicted men in Cobb County where Mike lives. It opened originally as a winter shelter about 25 years ago. A few years ago they also opened a separate facility for women. They have done an outstanding job with the program and have helped great numbers of people. A number of Mike’s acquaintances and friends are involved with The Extension in one way or another, and he has provided some services to them as well. He even attended a memorial service there earlier this year. Bert S. had been a counselor at The Extension for many years, was well-loved and respected by everyone, and he died sober. Mike has been to a number of memorial services for Alcoholics Anonymous members, and they are always powerful, deeply moving experiences in which there are always a few laughs. Recovering people are good at laughing at themselves (and each other). Mike remembers the service that was held for Walt H. a few years ago. Walt was quite an old man when he quit drinking and by the time he quit he had been homeless for some time. His actual age was a closely guarded secret. I’m sure some of you remember Walt. He was very involved in the AA meetings around Smyrna and enjoyed working with newcomers. Walt had a special way of talking to people in which every person was approached in a unique way appropriate to that person. Walt always threw a few Yiddish words Mike’s way, for example. At the memorial service many people shared, and it was only then that Mike realized what a genius Walt really had for interpersonal relationships. And he died sober too.
I have to tell you, I really enjoy living in Happy Meadows. There are always things to do and lovely people and their pets to visit with. There is also a seemingly endless supply of chipmunks, mice, squirrels, and other assorted critters to hunt. There are a lot of pregnant does this time of year and I see them from time to time throughout the neighborhood. Happy Meadows is located near the national Battlefield Park, so there are plenty of woods and some prairie lands for the deer to hide and forage. There is an abundance of wild turkeys too. You have to watch out for the hawks though, as there is an abundance of them as well. Last year I was in the backyard and a doe brought her fawn along. She had the fawn lie down in a little nook by the house and she went off to forage. I checked the fawn out. It’s true what they say; they have no scent whatsoever. It didn’t move as I sniffed around at it. Very interesting.
The other day when I was out and about, I decided to go visit Ms. Wilson and her daughter, whom everyone calls Popo. Popo was born with cerebral palsy, and she is quite physically and intellectually impaired. She goes by Popo because it sounds like what she calls herself. Her given name is really Paulette. (So, the name was not inspired by the children’s story, “Popo and Fifina: Children of Haiti”, written by Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, illustrated by Elmer Simms Campbell, and published in 1932, as some of you may have surmised, even though you could have had no idea that Ms. Wison was originally from Haiti. An original copy of this book can be found at Emory University Rose Library’s rare book collection. It might be easier for you, if you are interested, to find a copy online. Michelle says that if she was stranded on a desert island with only one author to read it would be Langston Hughes. After hearing this Mike has made a mental note to read more Langston Hughes.) Popo is not able to walk and so she stays in a wheelchair during the day. She has a little lever that she uses to maneuver the wheelchair around which she does with difficulty because her arms don’t work right either. Popo also does not have speech that most people can understand. However she and Ms. Wilson communicate quite well, and I generally know what she’s thinking too. I do know that she likes it when I jump up in her lap. She is awfully clumsy and not that good at petting me but I appreciate the effort that she does make. I don’t think she has learned how to read. There is no one else that lives there, just the 2 of them. It’s interesting seeing how deeply personal and spiritual a relationship can be in which one of the parties is so impaired intellectually and physically. With such limited language capability, communication of necessity is beyond words, and enters another dimension known and understood only by the people involved. I think what Popo has in great measure though is a capacity to love. As I was lying in her lap the other day, purring with her sort of nudging me with her hand as she tried to pet me, I looked up at her and saw an enormous smile on her face. I reached up with my paw, and I touched the side of her face. It was a special moment for both of us. She is so sweet, and truly, one of the happiest people I know. I’ll probably go back and visit again in a few days.
So, that’s all the news from Happy Meadows. Not much going on as you can see. Father’s Day is coming up this weekend so I should have something to report again soon. And I might go back and visit the Donkle’s tomorrow and see if I can wrangle some more cream from Richard. Happy Father’s Day y’all.