It's Jonathan's birthday today; he is 20 years old.
Can you believe that cheerful butterball (who actually did have a neck, despite appearances to the contrary) has turned into this tall young man?
Jonathan Sept. 8, 2022 - photo Jeannie Prinsen
Having Jonathan in our lives has given us a different perspective on life than we might otherwise have had. Garbage trucks, geese and seagulls, brooms and shovels, lines of laundry all have greater significance because of Jonathan's interest in these things. Everyone he meets is a friend, and the simplest pleasures give his life meaning and joy.
Jonathan 2017 - photo Jeannie Prinsen
I wrote the following poem, "Lakeside, with Jonathan" about five years ago and was honoured to have it published in the literary journal Relief. I think it describes Jonathan better than almost anything else could. Happy birthday, Jonathan.
Lakeside, with Jonathan
To the waterfront at Lake Ontario Park
you leading the way to your favourite place: down,
down stone steps to the little cobble beach, where a shelf
of flat rocks stretches into the water. Cross-legged
on a rock, you gaze at the lake, its wind-ruffled surface
dancing with a million bright diamonds. You call out
to the gulls that wheel across the sky, and watch
a half-dozen geese skim the water then swoop
swiftly up and away. You look around
with a smile and say Happy.
This is as abstract as you get, you whose mind anchors
firmly in the tangibles: supper, school, garbage truck.
No bedtime confidences for you, no heartfelt talks
of dreams or hopes, just the familiar, daily repetition.
I could choose to grieve what’s not, or let you teach me
that peace abides in the way water swells and breaks
again and again on the shore, that the seabirds speak
to you as they cry overhead, that the windmills
over on the island are your friends, tall and steady
in the sunlight, their long arms waving hello.