I am not worried when thephone rings at home and there is no answer. Although I don't remember that Q was going anywhere. Or do I? I'll call later.
And later, he answers. I was at the coffee shop, he says, remember? Oh, of course, I say, now I remember. There was a politcal meeting at the coffee shop in town. Informal, he says. It was good. They may meet at our house in a week or two. He's got another one coming in a week or two; I can't remember what cause it is now, but I'm sure it's a good one.
Maybe we can find a way to ship retired faculty's libraries to Iraq, he says. He's read something about a college library there with no books. That would be a good step toward rebuilding things. Yes it would. Q couldn't give a greater gift than his books. It would be good for the house, too, since there must be thousands of them.
I look out the window and there he is, over at the church, shovelling the front walk on Sunday morning. Don't want anybody to slip, he says. No, we don't. For years, I have implored him to stop shovelling snow, to hire someone to do it, to get a snow blower. But my entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. I guess he likes to do it. He likes to be part of making the path straight. You have to get it right down to the dry ground, he says. Otherwise, ice will form under your feet and it will be worse than before.
Citizen Q is prohibited from giving blood until February 4th. We're in a terrible shortage right now, so I know that he will present himself at the blood center bright and early on the fourth for his donation. I do not know how many gallons of blood Q has donated in his life. Enough to fill several people. Q is the universal donor: Type O. Somehow I am not surprised.
Soon Q will be fuming over his Jane Austen books, even though he has taught Austen many times, in preparation for a lecture he will give in a couple of months. He likes to be prepared. Before Austen, he's teaching a satire course. He likes to teach that one in an election year. Always lots of material, he says.
We weep over the news, sometimes, he and I, sometimes for sorrow and sometimes in simple awe at the grandeur of human courage or kindness. There is much of each of these at which to weep, if you're built that way.
He often officiates at Morning Prayer. Today I read it by myself; I am far away, and he is at home. I come to the end and read a prayer that will always remind me of him:
"O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and those who are near: Grant that people everyuwhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit on all flesh and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN."
Blessings on him today. And every day. And on all flesh.