28 August 2018


By Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Love is sharing your popcorn. Charles M. Schulz

Yesterday morning I slipped on a sports coat to pay a house call on a young man met but once a few weeks ago; he was riding shotgun. 
His dad, an acquaintance, came to the porch and asked if I'd like to meet his son.


We walked to the car. But for him not feeling well (brain cancer) only a few minutes small talk. They left for home.

He's now bedridden. 

On the way to visit, a red pickup truck stopped ahead at the light displayed a Gold Star family license plate (I'd not seen one before) - three initials followed by11; undoubtedly the servicemember and year of death.

The air chilled momentarily. 

In the family home, I sat on the edge of an adjacent cot. 

His dad, a retired Sailor, and mom reintroduced us. 

More small talk. He's engaged but in and out. 

His mom's parents stopped by. 

His grandfather, a two-time Olympian, earned gold; silver, twice; and bronze. More than halfway through his 80s he still looks a serious sprinter. And he's a veteran. 

And though he did not say as much, it was clear he'd swap those cherished medals for his grandson's precious life.

Mostly I listened to family stories, some lighthearted and humorous, told surely for the benefit of the young man.

Rather sobering it is to be so close, no matter how many times past, to death.

But this time, for some odd reason, colors and shapes came to mind; vividly. That's not happened before. 

On the way out I noticed a couple of tubs of movie theater popcorn.

His mom told me he asked specifically for movie theater popcorn. No store bought. It had to be buttered and from the movie theater. 

Her smiling words, "So, he gets movie theater popcorn."

I have been thinking about that Gold Star family.

I have been thinking about that grieving family I sat with yesterday while an all-too-young man slowly slips away. And not even an Olympic champion can do anything about it other than join in to offer comfort and prayer. 

This morning those colors and shapes angrily stroked on canvas.

'So He Gets Movie Theater Popcorn'
24 x 16 in. acrylic on canvas

One big brush!

Both ends to paint. 

It did not take long. The anger gone.

Staring out the basement window and across the parade field this stormy morning some irony that two dozen rain-soaked flags hang still at half-mast to honor a Sailor and Senator who lost to brain cancer.  

So days numbered. 

There will not be a Gold Star nor orders from our White House to half-mast flags, though a courageous and good citizen. 

But amidst the sad good news this morning on social media. A retired Marine friend diagnosed with brain cancer, and who went through hell, this week celebrates four years and good health.

I'd almost forgotten how beautiful the sight, for colors and shapes, and wonderful the aroma of movie theater popcorn. 

In good health, live vivaciously. Love. Share your popcorn. Peanuts, too. Do it for Charlie - a veteran who, too, lost to cancer.      

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