Passing Ships – Distant Voices

These winter holidays stir up emotions for everyone. We are all so different and Christmas time magnifies those differences. So many families are feeling money pressures because they have to provide gifts under the tree for the little ones.

Christmas Tree with gifts


Others are celebrating a spiritual season based on their religious beliefs and upbringing.

manger scene



Many folks are feeling anger well-up inside them based on their own upbringing or failed relationships that have crushed their dreams and expectations.

None of this is news; it’s a yearly event for all of us through our own experiences.

Yesterday I talked to a long-time friend and she told me a touching story. It brings up a whole new “reason for the season” that I never thought of. Let me preface the story with a reminder that Christmas cards, Hanukkah cards and New Year’s cards are a tradition that our parents and Hallmark have ingrained in us.

That is why my 98 year old mom slaves for weeks over six dozen Christmas cards she can hardly see, to write her greetings because “that’s what you do.”

christmas card



That preface is so you can realize how an elderly man in Scottsdale would get out his “list” and start addressing cards to his friends and relatives. I never met this fellow but my good friend has told me so much about him, I feel I know him. She talked about him for years when they lived in the same complex in Scottsdale. She would cook him a dinner now and then and they would talk for hours. He is an extremely intelligent guy and a gentleman. They were both single, he was about 20 years older than her, retired and nearing 70 years old. My friend is shy but also intelligent and fun to be around. She told me there were sparks between them,  but both of them kept the relationship friendly and respectful. Ten years ago she took a job in Ohio and they said their goodbyes.

I talk to her quite often and I hear her voice trail off when she talks about what “might have been” with this gentleman if she had not moved.

Yesterday, she received a Christmas card from her Scottsdale friend. He is around 80 years old now.  Here are his words to her: It’s been so long I’m forgetting where/when we met and yet I recall the pleasure of your company. I guess I’m aging even more rapidly! But the feeling of affection remains.”                                                         He then went on for a few lines about his cataracts, his hearing problems, and some recent movies he attended.  He then closed with this: I hope you are well. Let me know how you are doing and remind me of our past.                                                                                          With affection,                                                                                                                               Dave”

Isn’t that beautiful and sad? I can somehow imagine being in declining health and looking at a name on a Christmas card list and having emotions stirred, but vague memories.

Now the words of Longfellow have meaning and understanding like never before.

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing, only a signal shown, and a distant voice in the darkness; So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

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About bakoheat

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3 Responses to Passing Ships – Distant Voices

  1. Mary says:

    Lovely. I remember my dad writing over 200 Christmas cards a year. He made friends constantly, most on his travels, some from living in Venezuela. No pre-done letter, all handwritten notes. We keep in more constant contact with people through social network, but we also let these things slip by us.

  2. fiddlrts says:

    My 92 year old grandfather – my last living grandparent – still sends out birthday cards to his grandkids and great grandkids. For years, he never missed, but he has a bit the last few years. Of course, the fact that he remembers as many birthdays as he does in our large family means that he is doing better than I am. I still can’t remember all the names of my second cousins…

    • bakoheat says:

      Speaking of “cards”…I was back in the Midwest last spring for my Mom’s 97th birthday. You have to realize she’s been through at least 2 sets of friends because they have all died. But, I couldn’t believe my eyes when 57 birthday cards arrived for her. Amazing! I don’t know if I can name 57 people.

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