July 31, 2022

By Arthur H.Gunther III



     The Irish lady from North County Dublin looked less than chipper, unusual for this get-it-done woman with a sharp sense of right and wrong and a non-nonsense approach to living. She was in the later years, not “old” yet by her definition but past the trials and tribulations of marriage and raising children. Now the day was gone through with the smaller routine of housework for one, with the tea drinking set in its regularity, and in the damp the fire set too.

      So, I wondered without leaping at a question as to why Mary was not quite up to the usual wit and a disapproving eye at the ready. Leaping with that question might  be intrusive, you see.

    Instead, at my regular visit, I waited for the call to sit by the fire, tea at the ready. I have a number of acquaintances, all of whom have their habits, and I find comfort in joining in. I am not a constant tea drinker, but I do so with Mary. My buddy Ginny and I used to have wine, also not a favorite, but it sure fit the occasion and the conversation. 

     It’s nice to have variety.

     Mary took her tea – milk, sugar, the pot in a cozy, the fire grossly inefficient but in this setting as comforting as a good, long conversation during an uncomplicated drive on rural roads. There are few stop signs, hardly any lights to interrupt the flow.

I waited for Mary to speak, and that she did 10 or so minutes into the sitting. “Now, Arthur,” she said, “Sadness is upon me.” I asked her why since she had opened the door to the now, not-intrusive question. “Well, I don’t quite know the why of it. It could be the slowing of my rhythm as I am getting on,” Mary spoke.

     “So what do you do about this sadness that is, as you describe, “upon you?,” I asked.

     “Oh, it will leave, just as an arthritis ache goes after its unwelcome visit. That is why I do not say “I am sad.” If I were so, that would be a condition. Mine is not. Sadness is upon me, but will go.

     Irish philosophy, that.

     The writer is a retired newspaperman.