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A quiet conversation between two creatures stirring

The blue time — the days after Christmas and the supposed and packaged perfection that the holiday is supposed to be — is good for reflection. The emptiness felt after guests are gone and gifts given is ideal for inner cleansing.

The mouse that appears at the foot of the bed helps a great deal. He makes the annual trek from the orphaned sock drawer to the throw pillow at the foot of the bed. Kathy doesn't like him much.

Rodents, particularly ones that claim squatters' rights to such an important drawer, make her scream. She wants get-rid-of-it immediate action, but those who are considered friends and confidants deserve respect.

I'm respectful because the questions he raises need thoughtful responses.

Did those things considered important at the year's start get accomplished? Have the scars from past hurts healed through generous application of forgiveness, a gift without which our lives would amount to little more than futile frustration?

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And what about the future, where hope lives for something better from current struggles?

The mouse asks but does not answer. That, too, is as it should be.

A Christmas wish for a grandson

Our grandson celebrated two years of living on Christmas Day. An unexpected gift that promises surprises.

The first step, the first word, the discovery that toys, grandparents and parents are his and should be his alone. He might become a doctor, lawyer, grocery store clerk or football star. What's important is that he grows up to be good and do good — to use the gifts given him to the human race's full advantage.

"He done good'' would seem the perfect epitaph for any grave marker. Three words, although used ungrammatically, express the reason for our existence.

While Elliot's life is marked with firsts in an expanding world, his grandfather's place in it is getting smaller. There will be many more lasts than firsts, but the omega is as cherished as the alpha.

The young watch a star that shoots across the winter sky and wonder if and how they fit into the universe. The old still find wonder in it but have a better understanding that true meaning is found in inner, smaller things.

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The "I love yous'' and hugs become more important even for those of us uncomfortable with receiving them.

To my knowledge, Dad and Mom, wed for more than 50 years, never once uttered "I love you" in their children's presence. They didn't kiss or hug, because that behavior was reserved for the young and in love. Love certainly can be assumed without saying, but it's odd that said aloud it causes discomfort.

And at the end ...

The mouse, as is his habit, finishes with a troubling question. He asks about a funeral and burial. It seems fitting, given that if my lifespan matches my father's, there are 11 more years to go.

When that time comes, the music must include the Doors' "Riders on the Storm" in addition to "How Great Thou Art.'' The first as a reminder of reckless youth, and the second to honor tradition.

There should be room for one more beside my parents, who are side by side in the St. Henry cemetery. It's holy ground for farmers and their children because it looks out over fertile fields. It would have been most appropriate for their marker to be engraved with a tractor, cattle and an apron to honor their heritage.

They, and ultimately we, "done good'' to the best of their ability to do so.

The mouse's words have reached a thunderous roar that echoed through my brain and made more sleep impossible.

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Depressing?

No, not at all.

The mouse returned to the sock drawer happy that we talked.

The recliner is comfortable in the pre-dawn darkness. The picture window lets in only darkness while the wall clock ticks the time away.

Kathy remains unaware of the mouse's higher calling. She just doesn't understand his true import.

We both are fellow travelers somewhere between the alpha and omega.

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