Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grandpa Joe's Nose

One fine, crisp, winter day, Marielle and I were walking in Winnipeg. This was long before we moved out to Victoria, and even before Shoghi came along and joined our family.

We were walking on the river, heading from the Forks to Osborne Village.

Aside - I remember another winter day when I called my Father. This was before he passed away. (Obviously.) In the midst of the conversation, he had asked me what my day had been like. In the midst of describing my day, I mentioned that I walked on the river, and it was one of those rare moments when he began to wax poetic. He spoke of the beauty of the sound of the splashing water, and I stopped him with, "No Dad. Not near the river. Not beside it. On it." It was very amusing. He hadn't realized just how cold it gets up north, as he was in Chicago, and it hadn't occurred to him that the river walk was actually a walking path on the river itself.

Second aside - Another time I was talking with him and he asked me what the temperature was. I said, "Minus 40." "Oh? Fahrenheit or Celsius?"  I laughed and said, "At this temperature, who cares?" He was amused. (I really miss my simple conversations with Dad.)

So, there we were, on the river, walking to Osborne Village, a good couple of kilometres away in total. In the cold. The freezing cold. The sort of freezing cold that makes you think that we should begin using the IQ system instead of Celsius, how stupid you have to be to walk outside.

And there was the wind.

In our faces.

And not for the first time in my life, walking that path with my beloved wife, she-who-will-be-my-partner-in-all-the-worlds-of-God, I began to seriously question my sanity. Oh, not because I was with her, but just because I was outside for what would be a subjectively long time in that weather.

To be fair, though, it was bright and sunny. (Which, of course, meant that it was just that much colder.)

Anyways, there we were. Walking. Enjoying each other's company. And shivering.

And the absurdity of the whole situation just sort of hit me.

"Marielle," I said. "I can just picture it. Years from now, when I'm an old man, I'm going to be talking to our grandchildren, and one of them will ask, 'Grandpa, why is your nose so big?' And you know what I'm going to say?"

We had already talked about having children, so this wasn't too much of a leap. She could tell that I was in story-telling mode, so she asked. And that, dear Reader, was when I began using my Grandpa Joe voice. If you haven't heard it yet, I've been told that it is quite good, very convincing. And that I really get into the character. Oh, and this story was all made up on the spot, completely improv, timed to last the rest of the journey to our destination.

So now, dear Reader, if you will, please imagine the rest of this in a sort of old man's voice. Thanks.

"Well, darling, one day your Grandma and I were out walking. And let me tell ya, it was cold. It was a really cold day there back in Winnipeg. And we were walking on the river. I don't know why, but there ya go. We were doing it, walking on the river. And we were freezing. Just shivering as we walked. And that wind comes along and began biting. I thought my cheeks were gonna freeze. Try as we might, we just couldn't get warm. It was a bit ridiculous, it was.

"And then one particular gust of wind come along, and my gosh, I couldn't believe we were there. And you know what? That wind done froze my nose right off. Boom. There it went, fell right on the ground.

"And you know what? My nose started to run. Course, that's not all that odd, really. Lots of folks noses run in the winter. Kinda normal, that. But mine began to really run. It started to run right on back to the Forks.

"And I began to chase it, trying to get my nose back, but it was fast. Pretty fast for such a little guy. I tried to grab it, but I just couldn't catch it.

"That little nose began to run faster and faster, and I'm chasing it for all it's worth. It got all the way back to the Forks and began to run towards this fire they had burning outside. It ran around and around this bonfire, trying to warm up.

"That was when I noticed that there were all these other guys chasing their noses, too.

"Musta been a couple o' dozen of us all running round that fire, chasing our noses.

"Finally, after a short bit, I leapt and tackled it. I was able to grab my nose and shove it back on my face. Held it there, makin' sure it didn't get away again.

"It was only when I got home, a bit later, that I realized I had grabbed the wrong nose.

"And that, darling, is how I ended up with such a big one."

*     *     *     *

Now, what does that story have to do with my living out my understanding of the Baha'i Faith?

Simple, really. I think it is very important to keep a light heart. Marielle and I made it into the Village that afternoon, half frozen, but filled with joy.

Not all stories have to have a deep spiritual significance. Sometimes just the joy of a good tale is enough. And sometimes, just sometimes, anything more would be too much.

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