What difference does one life make? Am I part of healing rain or the storm?
Is the drop arriving at the ocean after a trip down long rivers to be celebrated more than the splat of rain on the shoreline?
Is the drop in the ocean whole or lost?
Eyes greet her eldest.
“Goodbye,” she utters. Eyes close.
(Written after yesterday’s visit with my 97-year-old mother-in-law.)
It is not the length of life, but the depth of life—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had a routine colonoscopy a couple days ago. The doctor entered my recovery cubicle where I was sipping a lemon-lime soda on my too hard bed.
I expected to hear, “We removed some polyps and all is clear.” I expected to go on about my business with some jokes about the preparation ordeal. I expected my body to not fail me at age seventy—young enough to volunteer, create art and travel.
The doctor betrayed me by saying, “We found a mass.” She showed me pictures. I could not determine whether the mass was the size of New England or the size of a pin head. In my stupor, I did not have enough sense to ask questions.
At home, I looked up symptoms for colon cancer. I missed them all, including this incredible tired feeling I pushed through daily. I assigned the fatigue to aging and refused to let it dominate my agenda.
I am prepared for death more than for a fight. My mother, who lost her own mother when she was five and her father when she was seventeen, was determined her children would not fear death. She told me each time young me went to a funeral or visited great aunts in nursing homes, “I will not have a child afraid to see a body at a funeral or disrespectful of the aging!”
Mother and I walked through the cemetery each Memorial Day. She told me the stories of dead relatives, their tales real and alive above the bones lying in caskets. Mother was embracing them mentally as she had physically in life.
Mother dealt with her own decline in a pragmatic way. She first told me she was no longer allowing herself to drive to Salina forty-two miles away, then Abilene a distance of twenty-two miles, then Herington eight miles from home. When she struggled to maintain her house, she moved to an apartment a block from me. Her last years were spent in my home in her own bed with the pink quilt she created decades earlier.
So, I am waiting for direction to know what decisions are to be made – fight or surrender. The decision already made is to have a joyful end whether a decade or a season.
As is my pattern, I will write it out on my blog and paint it out on canvas.
Fall takes on new meaning as we age – the thought of the approaching cold, final winter of our being. Not a depressing thought, just part of the journey.
We have seen many changes over the decades, especially the relationships between men and women. As a liberal woman championing the women’s movement over the decades, I am pleased with the changes. My husband Ken, a conservative libertarian, defends a man’s liberties and finds himself in conflict with a woman’s rightful discernment/definition in a relationship.
This morning over a hotel breakfast, Ken and I listened to the news. The “Me Too” movement is celebrating their first anniversary today.
I said, “The problem with men is that they see everything as ‘all about me’ rather than listening.”
Ken looked at me with that you-have-two-talking-heads-and-neither-one-makes-much-sense side glance.
“For example,” I said as I added syrup to my waffle, “My hip hurt last night, so I rolled over about 3:30 a.m. to sleep on the other hip. You decided to cuddle. By 4:00 a.m. I am unable to sleep and lose an hour playing Sudoku while you continue your blissful rest.”
“You nudged my back twice. You wanted to be held.” Ken looked hurt.
“At 3:30 a.m. I am not thinking about you or being held. If I were thinking at all, it would be about sleep. Which proves my point. You thought when I rolled over in bed it was about YOU! Really?”
“What does this have to do with the Me Too movement?” Ken asked.
“Everything. I remember working when I was young and attractive. I was busy with office work all morning – filing, typing a report, preparing for a meeting. About noon a man in the office said, ‘I love the way you flirted with me all morning. What a turn-on!’ I barely knew he was present because I was focused on my work. It was all about him. Idiot!!!”
“Maybe you were not aware of the vibes you were giving off,” Ken insinuated.
I snapped back, “I win. I have the blog.”
Ken said, “Yeah, SHE who writes the history wins.”
Ken reached over and stroked my chin. We both started laughing.
Fall is in the air. Change seems to be slower to reach fruition than the winter of my days. Understanding may never be fully achieved, but surely we can continue to love good men and good women throughout the journey.
For younger women, seek justice as I once did through organizations, politics and personal conviction; but do not lose patience with kind men who only want to hold you on a cold night in October.
I weep for….
…battered women cowering in shells.
…abused women with the courage to speak truth.
…PTSD women who go to work with the feeling they may die.
…all women vulnerable to powerful men who pay no price for brutish behavior.
I weep for…
…good men who stand for their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives.
…bellowing men wielding power in our congressional halls.
…abusers who are soulless.
…boys who will never know the love a strong woman
because they take with privilege.
I weep for…
…churches that once stood for morality.
…the churched who once spoke love.
…pulpits that once displayed the cross rather than a FOX News banner.
…worshipers, who once shared the communion of truth and kindness,
now raging in hate.
I weep for…
…my country disrespected throughout the world—literally a laughing stock.
…democracy preyed upon by Russia with the help of American leaders.
…children who will never know American pride as natural
and bright as fireflies in a jar.
…peace, respect, compromise, common purpose, hope, American goodness.