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Charmolypi – it’s all Greek to me

Fall colors on Tenmile Lake in Lakeside, Oregon

The word Charmolypi (pronounced Harmo-leepee) in Greek translates to “sweet, joy-making sorrow”. One day last week was most certainly the definition of this word for me. The day traveled back and forth emotionally from sad to joyous repeatedly. It really sunk in at the end of the day how life can simultaneously be happy and sad – even in the same moment.

The day started quite lovely. I awoke to the lake cloaked in fog so thick, I couldn’t see across to the other side. I knew that meant a sunny day ahead. I leaped to action and hopped in the shower (rare for me, I normally love slow mornings but today was a special occasion). I got ready for the day and grabbed the gift for my sweet friend, Betty’s, birthday celebration. We had planned to go to her new favorite plant nursery in Reedsport and then to lunch at her favorite Chinese food in Reedsport afterward.

I wrote all about our magical experience of visiting the garden center and our lovely lunch afterward (read that here) but what I left out was how the day kept leaping from joyous to sorrowful.

Shortly after we arrived at the plant nursery in Reedsport, I received a text message from my client. It was very sad news that a dear colleague had passed away. She was a lovely lady and wonderful to work with. And ironically, she was the heart of Reedsport (where we were that day). My heart felt so sad but here we were, about to celebrate another dear friend’s birthday. I wandered through the plants alone for a few minutes to give myself a chance to take in the news and let out the sadness. I knew it would not all come out in that moment but that I could release enough of it to get back into the moment I was in and enjoy it.

We had a lovely day and lunch afterward. When we returned back to Lakeside, I needed to grab some groceries before heading back out to the cabin (it’s about 20 minutes outside of town – when we are in town, we pick up what we need). I was shopping in our little town’s market when Tiffany, one of the clerks at the store, said hello and told me that they were just talking about me. I was astounded! I thought, ‘Why would they be talking about me?’ I inquired to find out more. It turns out that the gal who writes poetry for our little local newsletter (that I am the editor of) was telling Tiffany about her poems and then said that she sends them to Blume (me) each month for the newsletter. Tiffany told her that she knew me and that she’d look for the poems in the next newsletter.

The entire time she was telling me the story, I was thinking about how much I love living in a small town where we all know each other in some way or another. It makes it feel like a big family. Everywhere I go, I know that someone is around who cares about me. That’s a pretty great feeling!

Then, Tiffany went back to work, and literally, the moment she stepped out from in front of me, our neighbor, John, appeared before me. It felt unreal, like some sort of movie playing out in front of me. Like someone had orchestrated the sequence of events. Normally, seeing a neighbor at the market would be very commonplace especially around here, but today was quite different because John’s wife, Hazel, had just passed away and I hadn’t seen him since then. I had never once seen them at the market before because they always went on Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, the two of them would get dressed up in their “town clothes” – Hazel wearing matching colors from head to toe and John in his brown slacks, button-up shirt, and suspenders – and head to town to do all of their errands for the week. This was a Sunday, so I knew the routine had gone to the wayside now that John was alone in this world. They had been together for 62 years and had been each other's world for at least the last 20, with no more visits with friends or family.

I exclaimed “John!” in a surprised, yet trying-my-hardest-not-to-sound-surprised voice. I didn’t know what to say. Hazel had died suddenly one afternoon on their return from their errands. He said she “just fell down flat”. So heartbreaking. I told him I was so sorry that she was gone and that she would surely be missed. She was a spitfire of an old gal. Lots of spunk and tenacity. Honestly, we were shocked to see her go. We had a few more uncomfortable words and then we got on with our shopping, on our own.

It’s moments like these that make me feel pretty lucky to be alive. Yes, I’m half Hazel’s age, but we just never know when it will be our time and we had better keep on living while we’re here. Again, for the second time in one day, grief struck me. I was determined to let it push me toward the living instead of falling back toward the deceased.

Puffy clouds over Tenmile Lake in Lakeside, Oregon

As I finished my shopping, a gal and her daughter were standing in front of the pickles. She said to her daughter ‘I want a really crunchy pickle’. Being a pickle-lover myself, I poked into her conversation and said that Clausen pickles are the best for crunch. Then I told her they were in the cold section. She said she had never had Clausen’s and didn’t even know there were pickles in the refrigerated area. I pointed her over to them and she headed over and got some. I was excited to be able to share my love of pickles with a stranger and she seemed really sweet.

While I was checking out at the front, my new pickle lady friend ended up in line behind me. She said ‘I wanted to tell you earlier but didn’t, that I really love your dress’. What a sweet compliment! I told her thank you very much. I was wearing my royal blue dress with white polka dots, a dress that I always feel cheery in.

I mentioned to the checker that I would need help with a carry-out for four bags of pellets. I can lift one bag of pellets okay, but when we get into the multiples in one cart and then load them into the cart and back out into the Blumebulance, that’s another story. Each bag is 40 pounds. He said no problem and called someone for assistance. When we were done, the person he called had never arrived so I told him that I could just take my groceries out and come back for the pellets. The sweet pickle lady piped up and said that she and her daughter could help me. I thought that was incredibly sweet but the woman was pretty small and her daughter looked to be around 10 years old. She suggested maybe the two of us together and I agreed that we could definitely get them together.

Just as we went to start putting the pellets into a cart, a man walked up and said ‘Need some help, ladies?’ Again, I had that feeling of being in a movie! Where did this guy come from and how in the world did he arrive with perfect timing? The pickle lady said ‘I won’t turn down help’, which I thought was super sweet because here I was already having commandeered her and her 10-year-old daughter (she turned out to be 11 years old by the way). The man swiftly piled the pellets into a cart without any difficulty. We thanked him profusely and pushed the carts out of the store. He went off to his truck with his groceries and we just assumed he would leave. We weren’t worried, though, we would just give it the teamwork we had originally planned.

Then, just as we reached the van, the man showed up again in the nick of time! He put the pellets into the van and was such a gentleman. We all thanked him with our deepest sincerity once again and he was off on his way. I gave the pickle lady and her daughter one more heartfelt thank you and a wish for a lovely visit with her mother (she had grown up in Lakeside and was here visiting her mom). She thanked me and was off on her way.

The moment I finished unloading my groceries into the van, the sweet pickle lady’s daughter ran over and said ‘My mom asked me to take your cart back for you’. My goodness, what a sweet gesture! I thanked her once again and she quickly wheeled the cart back to the store. As they drove off before me, they waved goodbye like we were old friends and my heart was full.

Pretty clouds over Tenmile Lake in Lakeside, Oregon

I had experienced two very sad moments that day but all of the joy and beauty of the other moments in between were so rich, that I couldn’t help feeling a combined joy from both the sad and the wonderful. The sad and the good, both remind me how special life truly is.

I think something clicked that day. A switch that allowed me to embrace both sorrow and joy and allow them both to live in my heart at the same time. And the realization that it’s okay to allow them to coexist. I don’t have to fall deeply into one or the other. I can feel them both in my heart and let them be a reminder that I am truly alive.

I hope you are all feeling grateful to be alive today and enjoying those magical and joyous moments between the sorrowful ones. Sending you big hugs and kisses!

Hugs and kisses from Blume Bauer at The Yellow Desk & Boutique


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Illustration by Blume Bauer ©

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