If I had a column in the Delft op Zondag

(Not the real)
Delft op Zondag


21 MAY 2017

Only For a While

DELFT - It is the brief time of Mayflies here in Delft; they are all over my back garden where they flit. How they came to be, with such a short life, suggests design but not especially a good one. Instead, I favor the 'Find a Niche; Fill a Niche' view of life. For example look at us: mankind.

Since leaving tropical Africa, we have spread everywhere. We have made adaptions to fill a niche, no matter the climate or season. If Mayflies have short lives, at least it is in Summer. Credit where due, the longer days have been trying to live up to the promises made to us in January. Keep trying and meanwhile I'll do the house-sorting which can no longer be put off. I was doing that when I dug out the old photo album.


"One day long ago I came upon a small, square photo album. Probably at a garage sale in Texas or California; I do not remember when. No one's name was inside. I was at the wall in Washington recently but could not look for him since I have never known his name."

That note ends: "You still love me?? I love you." He wrote on the back of the last snapshot, lower right: "I took this one of myself at arms length. Wish I could kiss you."

That is all of it. Photos giving a glimpse into another person's life for a short while, between childhood and being an adult. I wander through outcomes, what happened to him. Maybe he did not come back and after a few years, 'honey' tossed the memory. Maybe he did come back but not whole and not the same. Maybe he came back and married the girl who waited for him. Maybe they had children and a reasonable life. I tossed a dart at the year board, and it stuck at 1965. Thus, using his age as 18 then, he is 70 now, something in me wants to think he is alive and well.

Each time I come upon it, I stop and spend time looking at it again, read the few notes the owner wrote on some photos. He appears to be a young man, round 18. Too young to drink legally but old enough for Vietnam.

Starting upper left, his high school photo then him in uniform. The next two on top are relaxed. He was from the South and has one photo with the Stars and Bars flag, could be it was a reminder of home and his roots.

The photo at the bottom left is him in training, being taught how to slice a man's throat. Both are grinning, perhaps feeling silly. The one beside it had writing on the back: "Hi honey. This was taken inside a tractor by Dixon.

"I guess one of these days I'll learn to quit slumping over. The only picture I didn't slump in is the one in my uniform. Hey, honey, don't look at my tummy, ha ha, cause my muscles have turned to fat as you can see.

Even if Mayflies could speak and we could understand, none would have any idea why their lives are so short and they might question is Winter real or mysticism. Maybe they simply die without knowing more.

G. Wiley / NLStrabo - © Copyright - All rights reserved - gwileynl@gmail.com
In memory of Herb Caen