Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What do we live for?

Dad was admitted to the hospital yesterday. It's nothing life threatening - a bad bladder infection, but at his age, always a concern.  It took me a few hours to find out as I wasn't in a location where a phone call was easily received and it was evening, West Coast Time, before I got the voice mail from his home health aide and found him at the hospital.  I talked to his nurse, he was on an IV and resting comfortably, already talking about a road trip later in the week with a friend to visit a cemetery of a loved one that's in another state.

I remember the last time we were at those graves, the early Spring rain cold, thick as melted snow, with only a false lover's promise of warmth. I stood back as he stood in the rain, the tears on his cheeks mingling with the tears from above, before taking him on home. Even as hard as that was, and as cold as I was, I left feeling very thankful to be one that remains, breathing deep the air as we moved back towards the car.

As I spoke with the hospital last night, the nurse told me how she loves talking to my Dad, hearing his stories, his optimism.  Dad has lost so much, yet, he's found that wonderful place in life where he knows what a gift each day is, and strives to do something more with it, than eat, take his many medicines, and wait for the reaper.
Some people are old before their time, pivoting back each day to their most painful times and dwelling on them.  Certainly that's easy to do, especially when dealing with chronic illness or sustained pain.  Try as we wish to avoid it, we all grow old, knees hurt that never hurt before, strands of grey show in our hair, and then that day comes when we find ourselves taking a nap after a 12 hour work day, like a kindergarten student, instead of playing racquetball, followed by a couple of beers and a giant burger.  We count calories, we count old grievances, we count seconds and days, the bitterness of this ordered self-punishment, turning our world to grey.

It's no way to live.
On the news yesterday was a story of a historian who found some old Kodachrome movies in an attic from the 30's simply labeled Kodachrome experiment. There were of his home town, framed with a beautiful young woman, who the photographer was clearly smitten with. The film was color, unheard of at that time. The man found an address, knowing she'd be in her mid 90's and not likely alive.  She was, and when he presented the film, she cracked open the door a little bit further, then produced her wedding photo, to the man behind the camera, and invited him in. There was a frame of their marriage, and one shot of a B17 flying over her house as it made it's way back to base, where he would ship out to fly in WWII. She never saw her husband again, left behind with lost reels of dreams.

She'd married again, but you could see in her eyes as she looked at the films that she was looking at the love of her life and the look of joy and happiness on her lined face moved me to tears. For there in those flickering avatars that highlighted the passing of many years, was a moment that flickered without weariness or regret, captured forever immortal beneath the shining wings of an airplane.
We never know what gifts may arrive even as we've given up.

Today, I'm tired, a night interrupted, a poor night's sleep once I did lay down. I'd rather be somewhere other than working away and alone. But I hear in the quiet stillness, the murmurings of tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. They will be here before I know it, then gone again.

I could just get through my day, have a salad for dinner, and massage my aching knee. But I'm not, I'm going to have a espresso and a croissant - calories be damned. I'm going to finish my day, and then get on a bicycle and ride through the streets, breaking free of the day, not in justification, or excuse but as one brief moment of immortalization, open and explicable, beyond the tarnish of fear.
I'll pass the elderly in the streets, and I will meet their eyes, with a grin, and many will grin back, picking up their steps, locking their arm through their aged companions, the world gone suddenly back to a lifetime ago, when love was young and the world was limitless. Just as my dad does, they view the world, not as the elderly, but as someone young in an old person's body, their youth released with those resonant frames of remembering.

With a cheery wave, I'll ride on past them, down to the canal, the austere shades that were the familiar of my past, giving way to sun upon water, even as the clouds gather to watch.  The brilliance is too passionate to be ignored, and I will put aside my aching knee and pedal as hard as I can to reach it, stopping at the edge, to wonder, as the young believe only they can wonder.

The river of our courage and physical strengths runs into the same waters as the thread of our remaining days.  As we rush towards it, we release our own waters, the transpiration of breath. It mingles with the water that  blows wet away from the river's surface, the moisture rising towards heaven, a cycle as old as time.

As I turn the bicycle back towards my lodging, the rain begins, falling interrupted with that soft sound which is the river accepting back its rain.  The water is warm, as is my breath,


  1. Blessings to you and your Dad! And thank you for this essay...


  2. Thoughts and prayers for his quick recovery. Take care of yourself.

  3. Prayers for your dad,Brigid. And for safe travel for you. Glad you got a bike ride in...

  4. Brigid
    You remind me again and again, in sharing your history through your awesome writing that the answer is an unalloyed YES to the question "Isn't it great to be alive?". Prayers for Dad, and safe travels and quick ride Home, to You.

    Again, Thanks

    Rich in NC

  5. keeping your Dad (and you!) in our thoughts and sending good energy that way!

  6. Prayers for your Dad and you and Partner.

  7. Prayers Up for Dad, and for you. Safe journeys.

  8. Prayers sent for your Dad!

    And who was it that said "The pity of Youth is that it's wasted on the Young"?

  9. Chiming in as another youngster in an oldster's frame to say, "It really is all good in here, like a classic car headed to the museum."

    As always, thanks for sharing your personal thoughts and feelings.

    ~ Garlicguy

  10. Thoughts and prayers for your Dad. Strength and Courage for you.

  11. I'm wishing for a quick and complete recovery for your Dad.



I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..