Sunday, January 20, 2008

One Touch Removed

One Touch Removed

In college I met a girl who had been to a Beatles concert a few years previously. She told me that she had been midway back in the audience, couldn’t hear a thing and could barely see the lads as they performed. But when the show was over, instead of moving with the crowd as it left, she stood behind a pillar in the auditorium and waited until the place emptied out. She made her way to the front and touched the boards of the stage. She told me that she cried to think that she was touching the very place where George Harrison’s boots had scuffed. She didn’t wash her hand for a week and her friends who hadn’t been to the show would often take her wrist and hold her palm to their cheeks. The power of touch, as remote as it may be.

I think about that as I think about the very long life of my great grand mother. She was one hundred when she died...born in 1863. I remember sitting on the porch with her when I was very young and she was very old. I asked her if, when she was a child, she knew anybody as old as she was now. She thought for a minute and then recalled to me a very old man named Messerschmidt who lived up the road from her house in Germany. She guessed that she might have been five or six years old then and that he was in his nineties. She couldn’t recall much but she knew he had a pet crow and that the crow could speak a few actual words.

I don’t know if I’ll explain the next part of this correctly; the Beatles and the stage and the old man and his crow and the touch. You see, my great grandmother, when she sat with me, would pat my hand while she talked. I imagine the old man would have patted hers. She was born in 1863. Lincoln was still in office. The old man must have been born around 1778. Washington was yet to be elected president. I have touched a hand that touched a hand that lived before the Constitution was written. One touch removed.

I’m somewhat saddened that with a health history that is problematic at best, I won’t reach the ages of my great grand mother and Herr Messerschmidt. If by some freak chance I do make it to 2045, I hope someone will bring me a baby so that I might pat its hand and sent it deep into the twenty-second century only two touches removed from the generation of the very birth of our nation.

20 Comments:

At Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 11:11:00 AM EST, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Jon,

Love the idea of touch being so powerful. That's a great story about your family. I love the idea that we can leave something of ourselves into the next world, a world we won't be able to imagine. I'm a big one on talismans as well -- one of my favorites is a relic from Father Sylvanus, a Detroit priest who died not so long ago.

 
At Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 12:42:00 PM EST, Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Dang.

A very powerful post.

Seconding that wish re: the baby hand-pat for you.

 
At Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 1:09:00 PM EST, Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Love that last paragraph. A good message.

 
At Monday, January 21, 2008 at 5:33:00 AM EST, Blogger Susan Miller said...

I posted a note on my refrigerator last week. Sometimes I leave them with Slater's lunch money or put them in one of his books, but this one seemed best displayed. In black magic marker on a piece of white copy paper I wrote...

Quote of the Day:

"The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt."
Frederick Buechner

It seems only fitting now to put it here. Like Lori I feel this is a very powerful writing and hope for that baby hand-pat. Just please know that I have come here many times and felt the smooth touch of your hand in the wisdom and beauty of your writing.

 
At Friday, January 25, 2008 at 11:06:00 PM EST, Blogger Kate S said...

Fascinating and beautiful, Jon.

 
At Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 7:58:00 PM EST, Blogger Edie said...

Thanks for sharing this. Kate Sterling sent me here, and I'm glad she did. My 95-year-old aunt died today. and this was a great blog to read.

 
At Friday, February 1, 2008 at 3:43:00 PM EST, Blogger LaDonna said...

Jon, Kate led me her too. And I'm so happy she did. A great post, and I felt the "touch." And I thank you.

 
At Thursday, February 7, 2008 at 9:43:00 AM EST, Blogger Avery DeBow said...

Stopping by at Kate's behest, and, I wasn't disappointed. A very powerful post, indeed.

I marvel at the unlikeliness of my existence, since it took the exact timing and placement of people from Austria, Ireland, Italy, England and Native America to bring about my birth. Had just one of the Europeans decided to hop on a different boat, odds are I wouldn't be here. The collision of lives and the "touch" they leave behind long after they're gone is an amazing thing.

 
At Friday, December 11, 2009 at 9:26:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems remarkable phrase to me is

 
At Friday, December 11, 2009 at 12:18:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personal messages at all today send?

 
At Monday, December 14, 2009 at 12:33:00 AM EST, Blogger Jon said...

Good grief...Yoda reads my blog!

 
At Saturday, January 2, 2010 at 11:54:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exclusive delirium, in my opinion

 
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