Being born into a law enforcement family, it wasn’t surprising I cut my teeth on Perry Mason and Ellery Queen. I delighted to evening shows of Dragnet, Mannix, Canon and the original Hawaii 5-0, and as an additional palate cleanser, there was Matt Dillon and his spurs walking the streets and his brother Peter on a gravely designed reel-to-reel Mission Impossible. Yes, the life and times of my life held a solid pattern, one of protection, comfort and security. When I grew up and became a mother and later a grandmother, I knew no other way to live. It was logical, and just like solving the crime, each piece went into place comfortably as I loved my family and all was as it should be – most of the time….
The patterns life follows as we grow into adults and later parenthood, remind me of the presentation of plasma Dexter views each week, only he is determining the demise of life and not the living of life. In reality, missing cookies and a moved kitchen chair, a trembling lip before the tears come, tracks of mud to a bathroom sink, no mail on a day report cards are due, hidden candy wrappers in the couch or eyes refusing contact when you already know the situation at hand are presentation enough. These patterns of life repeat many times as we age; reaching for knowledge, not knowing if something is really wrong and of course the infamous cookie jar we have our hand in at some time or another. In the past few years however, It was to sad realize a new pattern, as I watched the unavoidable Charly Gordon occurrences while caring for elderly and dying family, especially while they lived at home in hospice.
Those familiar patterns we repeat but leave behind in our lives as lessons learned, are some of the first to reappear in fragments when we begin to leave this life, becoming images Dexter would indeed appreciate. Shaking and weak hands again like a child spill, forgetful minds leave items lying about or moved, trembling lips again accompany eyes of embarrassment, and yes, lack of eye contact is the same, but now a different emotion, as we both already know the situation at hand. Sometimes a pattern no matter how comforting, can also be the saddest thing in the word to find.
Walking through my front room, I pause daily at a glass cabinet with more than a few objects de it cost what, and across the front are smudged hand prints from my grand daughter who is almost two. The French doors to the left have similar smudges from my grandson at that age; he is now approaching five, and woe to the person who ever washes that pane of glass. Sometimes patterns of life are there for us as a gift to the heart, as we age along with other items showing marks of having been glued or mended, having been dropped and leaving yet another predictable pattern.
Yes, there are a lot of patterns in my life. Predictably, when I get up in the morning, comb my hair, grab my glasses and head for that first cup of hot black tea. I also walk past a splatter stain on the unfinished hallway floor just before reaching my office. It is in front of the bedroom where my daughters grew up, my mother lived and later died, and where my grand children now laugh and play with toys. The last day mom was truly active and mentally alive; she spilled her coffee from trembling hands, and the liquid landed down the wall and onto the floor in an unpredictable puddle. That stain is a true splatter pattern; it reaches in several directions, as if it wasn’t sure where to go, just like mom had felt inside. Outside that room, like my child, and like my mother, it couldn’t be defined any better, saying: “Why can’t I do it my way?”
My husband also has a familiar pattern, one most men seem to develop at one time or another, and I think his case is terminal. It is the unfinished project pattern, leaving gaps in my house and life with things he is always going to get around to doing. I have reached a point now, after close to twenty years that I remark only when something is finished. I’ve lost my breath and patience in any type of anticipation – that is my own pattern I guess. However, in this particular case, should the day come when after almost nine long years he decides to actually finish the upstairs floor, I may have to take more than a morning moment to ponder if I want that certain splatter pattern to disappear under oak panels. Will I be ready to change that pattern in my life?
No matter how many arms reach out to us, the pattern will always be the same, a need for comfort, consoling, celebration or care. Looking at the words in print makes alliteration, but it takes more than that to see what it means. Anticipating need, as we see the evidence of actions, and looking at others without saying a word, still seeing and feeling the moment with them, is humanity and the only reason any of us walk this earth. Putting one foot in front of the other, is a pattern we learned as children, but putting one hand out for another is a pattern of behavior we must commit to, and feel everyday. If we fail our children and those who look to us for guidance, the only pattern will be isolation and condemnation spilling into the future, thus leaving us all no more than a wasted splatter, leaving a mark somewhere where eventually if we are lucky, someone might end up asking why.