Monday, February 4, 2013

The Man in the Moon

The full moon rising over a distant Mt. Garfield
One of my oldest memories is one I revisit frequently, whenever I look up at the night sky and see a full moon. I was reminded of it again this past Monday, as I watched the full moon rise from the window of a jet flying to Cincinnati for a business training.

It must be the summer of 1961. I have just turned three. My little brother Stuart, my baby sister Jane and I are finishing bowls of ice cream at Grandpa and Grandma Lichty's house in Bloomfield, Iowa. My other sister, Susan, is not yet born. We kids are alone at the kitchen table with Grandpa, Jane in a high chair. Grandpa gets up from the table, collects our bowls and spoons, and walks them over to the sink. As he washes them, he looks out the kitchen window and sees the full moon. He calls me over and points. "Do you know what that is, John?" I follow his finger, raise one of my own, smile that I do know, and say, "The moon!" He smiles back. "Can you see the man in the moon?" I look hard at the bright, blue-gray shapes and try in my imagination to make them look like a face. I don't see it. I see a marble, like the ones Grandpa is teaching me to shoot, but I don't say so. He senses my frustration, puts his hand on my shoulder and pats it. "Keep trying. You'll see it."

All these years later, I still look hard at the full moon, willing the shapes to resemble a face, but they never do.

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