The slight, unassuming fellow
looked somehow familiar when
he first visited our poetry group.
He introduced himself as Larry,
and then it clicked. “Larry Jageman!”
I blurted. “Nan Mykel!” he replied.
In group he was confronted over and
over for his peculiar verse–all hosannas–
yet took it on the chin, calmly. Larry’s
attendance at group notwithstandng
was faithful, dogged, and devoted.
He puzzled those of us who could not fathom
the persistent style of his writing.
Were I confronted so often
and directly, I would have deserted
the group, my confidence crumbling.
I took his tears for sentimentality,
his occasional dark glasses a puzzle.
Was it his last group session that he
said next time he would share a situation
he was in. He always spoke softly, but
this time I was fortunately sitting next
to him and heard him say that he was
afraid of his wife leaving him and that
she was afraid of him leaving her.
His appreciation of friends, neighbors
and family, penned for more than a year,
seemed juvenile and rote to me, blinded
by a misunderstanding of his need.
He did take away something from the group,
and kept coming back until the end.
He was buried today, and I was there.
Upon remembering and reflecting, the image that stays with me is of Larry and Mary rejoicing in life’s grand square dance, and a reminder that there is a higher value than rules. It is called love.