NOV 19, 2018, 10:53:33 AM
I woke, one rather recent morning, with a few pains, the likes of which we grow accustomed to as the digits in our age increase. Thought nothing of them and went on about the business of the day, stacking the cords of fire-wood, delivered for the coming months of Northern Winter, bringing enough into the kitchen to keep the little wood-stove burning to ward-off the chill as it tried to make its way into the house.
Next came the late-Autumn chores of attending the lawn and fallen leaves, and preparing the vegetable garden for the snows that we all knew were leering at us from the tops of the mountains, not so very far off in the distance. They, the snows, were up there, we could see them, like a light, white dust on the peaks, and we could smell them in the breezes that blew down and around us, as the winds shifted from the South and were now coming at us from the North. It's always been that way: there's that one night when, almost rather suddenly, the temperatures drop, bringing a crispness, and as the day breaks, the light is a bit "different"... because it's being reflected off the frost, and from that point forward, for what we know is going to be the "longer season" of the North... Winter is just beyond an arm's reach.
But today, that day, there was something a bit different about the old discomforts. They were taking a bit of a toll. As if, from some-where deeper inside this old carriage we call "the body", some-thing was whispering a bit louder "Either you back off or there'll be a bit of Hell to pay today." I did what I've always done about such nonsense, I went on about the business of the necessities of the moment. Day-light hours were growing shorter but the list of things to accomplish were just as long as ever, if not a bit longer, and once that sun set o'er the Western horizon, well, it would mean waiting for about 12 hours before picking-up where I'd left off, and that wasn't a reasonable option. So, onward I moved along until...
It just got to the point where the reality of the situation came screeching at me, full-speed and with a vengeance! Today was different. This old thing, what-ever it is, demanded a slow-down and wasn't going to let ME decide whether or not to heed. Things, it seemed, began to swirl, round and round, move farther and farther away. Time began to almost grind to a complete halt and gravity felt stronger... as if the Earth was pulling me closer. Nope, I no longer had control of the situation, something stronger than I was dragging me along, and not in a direction I approved of. Oddly, for the first time in my years, I was forced to acquiesce. With what I knew were the last bastions of ability at the moment, I did what I've seldom done, ever, and I grabbed the keys to the truck and took me off to the local centre of "health advisors" (also known as the "hospital".)
That was some days ago. The charming folks at the Emergency were polite, courteous and duly attentive, ran, as it were, their "tests" and the likes and on my insistence, gave me my leave to return to the activities I'd only begun that morning and was far from completing. They gave me the formalities and pages of "sagely advice" with recommendations and referrals for "follow ups", and in the rain that had begun falling that evening, I returned to the scene of the "incident"... with a bit more knowledge of the predicament than I'd had when I departed.
When I arrived, the little ones (as I call the old dog and the new cat) were at the door to greet me as they always do. It was their dinner time, and I am their chef and server. It's primarily for them that I do what-ever it is I do in a day's span, and never even once have they ever expressed any dissatisfaction with any efforts I've exerted toward making their lives more comfortable. They're a joy, no doubt about that at all.
Well, the days have passed and in that period, I came to realise that indeed, the tasks at hand are many and important but there comes a time when other responsibilities... to self... deserve equal, if not a bit more attention. Trees grow old in the wood-lands and one day give, crashing to the ground. The flowers in the garden, beautiful to behold in the warm weeks of Summer, eventually succumb to the passing of time, change of season, and fade from brilliant reds and yellows, to dull browns, from bloom through stem to soil. Even the clock that ticks away the seconds, runs into minutes passing, hours, days, weeks, months, years until, one day it relinquishes its hold and the ticks stop, time on the piece cease to move... and then cease altogether.
On the 63rd anniversary date of my birth, I began a new adventure, one that I'd never given much thought of or to, if I'd ever given any at all.
A rather long time ago, I'd gone along and away from the comforts of familiarities of home-town, faces, voices and the likes, moved onto the place I'd dreamt of for many years. Coming to the North had long been my ambition, goal, dream really, and some time ago I arrived here, quite proud of myself and accomplishment to have reached the goal, manifested the dream. I'd done so alone, and had no regrets about that aspect of the journey. But now the realisation of the distance in space and time became clear, along with the realisation that "time" was almost incredibly much shorter than the distance between me and those who've meant a great deal to me over the course of my life-time. There remained one seriously major "chore" to be attended in the little time that was left, not only in the day, but in the greatest scheme of all earthly existence.
On that date of my 63rd, I began what I am currently in the process of attempting to complete. I'm calling it
*My Farewell Tour*.
There are many miles to be covered, many hours on many roads, travelling back in my own time, to see, to have and to hold those who have always held their places in my heart from as far back as I can or choose to remember. I'm not certain how much time I'll be granted to complete this task, but completion is impossible if commencement never begins. And so, now, with keys to the old truck in hand, I'm rolling out of the grass-covered drive and off, over the horizon, every day that makes it possible to do so.
My most precious moments, other than those when I can spend a bit of time with those who are my destination, are the time I'm given rolling through what is, to me, the most precious gift Nature has ever allowed me the privilege to enjoy over the course of my time on this planet: the New York Adirondack mountains. They've always been my little gate-way to times and places I've cherished. Many years ago they were the gate-way to the North where I was always delighted to be, no matter how long or short the sojourn. These days, they serve the same but in the opposite direction. No, I dont' enjoy the Southerly travel, but I know that at the end of the half-day drives, I'll be re-united with cherishable folks, most likely for the last time in this existence. And so, still, the majesty and the awe of these ancient hills are a reminder and assurance of a peace to come... just as they were 20, 30 or more years ago.
Now, some say that this topic is morose, depressing, melancholy. How silly! Quite to the contrary, indeed! You see, some people are given no notice of when they're to be taken from Creation. As they toddle and tarry about, some are immediately struck-down, breath slammed out of their lungs, souls ripped from their bodies, in an instant, whether or not any of their chores, goals, ambitions have been completed. I've been treated rather fairly well, being given the opportunity to, as much as is humanly possible, sojourn, even briefly, with the most important "chore" of all we're yoked with from the moment of our conception: to see, hear, touch those who are parts of my soul, my spirit, to recount the stories of our life-times, to laugh, perhaps even to cry, but most importantly of all things across the vast, unknowable spanse of Creation, to have, to hold, to thank and to Love them... even if it becomes just one more time.
Once upon my time on Earth, there was that dread of "growing old", slowing down, becoming "feeble" (of mind and body). I wondered, from time-to-time, but never too seriously, what it must be like for, say, parents, grand-parents, to reach some period when they knew that their time remaining was almost countable. Sometimes I'd just ponder... sometimes I'd think and let it go... sometimes the reality that I would, one day, come to know the answer... to learn from direct experience, was a bit frightening. But now that I'm here, that the moment has arrived, that I'm surrounded by it always, I find it's actually quite a blessing. There's a great "peace" in being aware of the fact that when the world changes into something, some place I'm no longer comfortably familiar with, it'll all be of no matter, concern nor consequence to me.
They're "costly", these "Farewell Tours". Time, energy, money, the likes, quite costly, indeed. But then too, with all the other realities and realisations comes the one above where "costly" is concerned: Once the tour is done... even the money won't matter (just so long as it holds out until the "Tour" is complete). Meanwhile... it's time to roll along because, well... as my Mother of most blessed memory used to say:
I have miles to go before I sleep, miles to go... before I sleep.
(Special heart-felt thanks to @anouchkaya for the posting of the attached image which has obviously stolen my heart.)
Nov 13, 2018, 11:21:55 AM edited
June 17, 2019, 09:04:35
Today, the 86th anniversary of my Mother's birth, as this pre-Summer day commences, with cloudless sky, brilliant sun-shine, and a cool breeze, I add to the running Journal I've kept over the years, originally in books, written on pages of paper, in words, sketches and photos taken or torn from other sources, the following entry which, in reality, is very much, a part of this, a "Farewell Tour". I want it added here, for posterity, as a note, not only to my-self but to others, and as a tribute to the person who, in truth, in fact, to me, actually and honestly has been the greatest mentor, teacher, Friend and Mother. I typed it at 7.33am... Mum was born in 1933. I wonder...:
Mama would have been 86 years old today. She had 31 years taken away. (They've been loaded onto my shoulders, so it would seem.) Today, in particular, a new point of view on “things, generally”:
Yes, she actually LOVED Life and living and being and all the rest of what existing involves, and yes, it was tragic, that Life and Living were snatched from her at an age where she was still vibrant and active and only JUST beginning to ENJOY this world, after having been denied that right for 21 years of Hellish marriage. But, on the other hand, the other side of the coin, she was still vibrant and active, Florida in Winter, NY in Summer, Al who loved, respected and treated her like a Goddess! She had the excitement of moving from NY to Florida seamlessly! She had the gift of being able to enjoy time, life, living. It was, pretty much, the last 3-4 months that were... well... what I'm beginning now: uncomfortable, inconvenient. And then? About a week of horror and... done. She didn't linger, drag on month after month after years... No “senility” or, what they call, these days, “dementia”. Nothing gnawed away at her mind, her memories. She didn't hobble about with walkers, sticks, canes, or wheel-chairs and the likes. I can't help but think of Ev... in her 90s now. She had to watch Moe suffer through surgeries, giving up the car, eventually dying... she buried him. Now, she sits in her flat until somebody comes to or for her. Lois and Taylor come to visit, to take her to the house in Waubeka, the house Moe designed, and there she sits for some weeks in Summer... dependent upon others. She's got a pace-maker, takes medications... and says things like “I just take every day as it comes. Nothing changes.” Mum wasn't punished that way. She even travelled that “last Summer”... Florida to the Catskills, then up to Buffalo. back to NY... the “Home-State”. Life... a complete circle. And all the while... active, save the last several weeks. And every day now, I get to look at “Mme.” here, 77 years of age, and last night, how she paced round and round, living-room, dining-room, hall-way, living-room, dining-room... “I don't like new things!” Just back from a week-long trip to New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts. Sure, she got sacked from a job she's been comfortably familiar with for 20-plus years, now she has to deal with the “chomage” and such. She has to deal with being accused of having committed “improprieties” she claims she didn't commit. As Mama said, when diagnosed, “I don't care about CDs rolling over, the interest rates, mortgages, the rising cost of living...” Nope. She didn't. Nor did she have to worry about “keeping this roof over head”, property taxes, heating in Winter, leaks in the roof... becoming miserable... whining about “new things”... and the list could go on. - Yes, it was rather “tragic”, to be taken at a “young” age... but comparatively, it was more a “blessing”. The only thing that could have been better about it all would have been a sudden coronary... BANG... GONE... DONE. But thus far, she was spared out-living Al, didn't have to bury Michael... As she said when Stephen died: “Parents shouldn't have to bury their children, that's not how Life is!” Neither should Grand-parents have to bury their grand-children... and she didn't have to. She didn't have to miss the husband who loved her, the grand-child, the friends... as they all left and she remained to remember... on the anniversaries of... - It's taken me 31 years to come to face the reality, the fact about it all. Seriously, nothing in Creation is infinite, eternal. Everything decays, dies, perishes sooner or later. How wonderful that my dear, sweet, Loving Mother was spared the horrors... 31 years ago. AND... today, as I sit here typing this, hacking up bits of what-ever that stuff is that accumulates in these old lungs, I have to ponder: If things are as I suspect them to be with me and my health and such, I'm still active, looking forward to returning to the “Home state” as well, probably to spend about as much time as Mum did... “her last Summer”. And if conditions repeat for me... well, at least I too, will be spared the slow rot, the lengthy degeneration, being “put in a home” (or another “Shelter” which is more as those “homes” can be). This ain't all so bad.
Last Rose of Summer
(A quite note: At about 8.00, I took a break from typing, stepped out to the porch for a smoke. A blue car came rolling into the Hanna drive... the former Mrs. Dimballs. Her radio volume up quite and rather high, high enough to be hear even as she arrived. And booming through the car walls and windows... Ozzy Osbourne:
Mama I'm Coming Home
I HAVE to remember Sunday, 21 August 1988. Buffalo, NY. I'd said “auf Wiedersehen” to Mum, tucked her into bed comfortably. We were leaving that day, to return to lower NY. Al, John, Joe, Cindy, Sarah were all back in the room and it was certainly time for me to leave. I went down to the little sitting area out-side where I could sit, and had a view of the window to the room where my Mother was dying. Fiddling with my “Walkman”, looking for a radio station, something to listen to to pass the time waiting for the rest of them to do/say what-ever, I happened upon a station from Ontario, and the song that played immediately
Je Ne Regrets Rien
I looked up at that window and, with a smile, all I could say was: “You'll just never stop; will you?” She knew how important music was to me... The last thing between us before the others returned was a hug. She was unable to speak... but she could still play the music! So today, I HAVE to wonder... I just HAVE to...)