Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hither & Thither

I move through periods of joy, stagnant thoughts, and sorrow. I remain often in the haze of stagnant, thinking of my uncle who passed and yearning so desperately to believe that he'll be at Tippery Pines, his home, when I arrive on Thursday.

He'll be exiting his workshop, built of straw bale, and greeting my family with a knowing smile. Perhaps he'd then throw some Orris burgers (of his own creation) on the grill, while also manning a campfire with a bed of hot coals. He'll offer my dad a beer or a bourbon and their conversations would weave in through the porch door, as my cousins braid my hair and chat about their lives and to me and my siblings.

Soon we'd all grab a seat at one of the picnic tables outside. Sometimes there's a children's table, while other times we all cram into one table. The cousins chatter, but always pause the conversation to eaves drop or giggle at the most recent Uncle John quip, as my Aunt Beth responds with an "Oh John!" Adult and children's laughter continues for minutes on end or escalates with the next banter of my dad and Uncle John's tangent.

Such joy. Such peace. So comforting.

Desiring so strongly to believe that in July, he will pull in between the pines at The Pinery and get out of the car with a hilarious remark, leaving me laughing and smiling to myself all night. We'd all rush to get our suits on, but not Uncle John, the water is too cold for him. Until recent years, that is, when he would come in and swim or wade with his grandchildren. Laughter echos down the river, as adult and child alike are caught off-guard by his witty statement.

Two innertubers come floating down the river. Uncle John turns and asks quite enthusiastically, but calmly, "Would you like a shrubbery?" To which the tuber replies knowingly, "A shrubbery?" And they proceed to quote Monty Python, leaving us all in stitches. The tubers float away, but we get to continue enjoying his humor all evening.

Sometimes he gets quiet and reflective, staring into the flames of the campfire. I often wonder what's going on in his head. Thoughts of work on his most recent plane, his time in Vietnam, or his next wood-working project. Perhaps, but I don't know. We all need quiet sometimes.

Quiet. Relaxed. And wonderfully familiar.

I sit here in Virginia longing to believe he's still with us. As my brother, Willem, said,"... there are some campfires, living rooms, a church, and some lives that have an Uncle John sized part of them missing." We feel the horrid ache. Yet I know that he's in heaven. He's where joys will never end. We can have hope that we will be together again. That's where the joy can be found when we are in such sorrow.

John Adam Orris, Jr.
October 3, 1949-June 4, 2013


  1. You're best post yet.you've said the things I cannot yet say.thank you.

  2. You have just unknowingly passed the audition. You can now give the personal remarks at the John O. memorial service in place of me. Love how you write.
    Love DAd

  3. You certainly have a way with words. Beautiful posts Kathe.