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Thursday, October 29, 2020
Opinion Richard Connor: A family counting stars and memories

Richard Connor: A family counting stars and memories

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It’s a story that never tires with the telling.

Loons, sleek, black and white, floating, coasting across the crystal blue lake, drifting, diving and then surfacing for air, often searching for their frolicking and fuzzy young swimming nearby.

The sky is azure and clouds fluffy white. At night you can count the stars.

“On Golden Pond,” people say when I describe the place in Maine where my father bought a log cabin in the woods for $400 and where my family has returned each summer for seven or eight decades.

At night the loons call out to one another amid the still and the quiet. One calls. Another answers. You ask yourself what they might be saying. Is it a call of happiness, loneliness, or just a song of serenity and calm? Some say the sound is “eerie.”

I call it hauntingly lovely.

Words readily describe the pure beauty of this place, the peaceful simplicity that anyone who comes here can see and experience.

But for us, it’s more than that.

We feel it.

This is home, or at least home base.

Texas is my home and has been for over 30 years. I didn’t even know what a Yankee was until I moved to Fort Worth but I did my best to acknowledge my roots while putting down new ones.

I love Texas for all that it is. People. Opportunity. Can-do spirit. Wildcatter mentality. Sophistication. Style. Rivers and mountains and prairie and wildlife. Quail and dove. The tall pines in the east. And, yes, hats, boots, saddles and spurs.

A heart can live in more than one place.

In the summer, I have to admit, and when the foliage explodes in autumn hues of red, yellow, brown and green, a big piece of my heart and soul resides in the woods of Northern Maine.

Two of my three children have children and all have spent most of their summers at this lake. They understand tradition and ritual. This year a 13-year old grandson, a boy often pensive and quiet, turned to my youngest daughter and said he had a plan.

Grandiose, it turns out, but a plan nonetheless.

“One day all of us kids will have bought every house on our side of the lake. We’ll have great family reunions.”

Tears come when you hear something like that, particularly since traditional reunions have not been part of our family experience.

Another grandson found his boat sunk at the dock as he walked to it one morning. He dragged it to shore with his brother, bailed it, and had it back on the water in hours.

Asked that night at dinner how he felt about the sinking of his prized boat, he said, “I’m not sad. I now feel like I’m really one of the family.”

We’ve sunk a boat of two in our day.

On Golden Pond, the 1981 movie that features Henry Fonda and real-life daughter Jane seeking reconciliation at the family cabin on a lake in New Hampshire, has deeply emotional moments that acutely depict the give and take, sadness and happiness, tension and pain native to all families – the yaw of life among those we love even when they don’t know it or show it.

Every day has not been and is not golden on this pond in Maine.

It’s not supposed to be.

Mosaically on the whole cloth canvas and deep down, most of us know where our hearts are rooted and where we belong. Along the path of our lives we wander off course, chase shiny things and look for love and happiness, often in the wrong places.

And then, when fortunate, we remember our Golden Pond, be it people we love or places where we find our center, or both.

We see the sunrise, the sunset and the stars, and we hear the sounds that remind us beauty is most often found in the simplest of places and things. We hear the beat of our hearts.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at rconnor@bizpress.net

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