In a very timely visit, my sister Jan has been touring Yellowstone National Park this week. The park was one of the more spectacular venues my family visited on our 11,000-mile cross-country adventure in 1963. For me, seeing it when I was only six years old, Yellowstone left an indelible impression. I have also revisited the park in the past and hope to go again someday. For now, I will enjoy it through my sister’s recent pictures and this except from A Bridge Between which may help explain why both the park and my father hold a special place in my heart.
Some many years, so many seasons past. It was springtime when my parents met in Washington DC: cherry blossoms bloomed, despite the war, and made for them a time of hope and promise, a time for new beginnings. They married in August and for 71 years, theirs has been a marriage of book sense merged with common sense. They made a life through firmly grounded principles anchored by keen and open minds, rooted in family and community but with a love for new vistas and adventures.
Like a lazy summer afternoon, like a July day with no end, their time together has been long and pleasant. Though they have labored, as it was always with a purpose and, always, in step with one another. And although no summer is free of storms, when thunder broke around them and the power and glory of nature were undeniable, they found shelter with one another. In mid-summer, when the sun hung long in the the sky and passed so slowly toward the horizon, one could barely think of nightfall. But the days grow shorter, if even imperceptibly. Only when the daylight has scattered and dimmed and the first firefly glimmers, only then do we realize night is upon us.
The last week has brought wind and rain, deep milky fog and powerful thunderstorms that shrouded the skies in darkness. Yes, that was the weather, but it aptly describes my moods–my life–as well. A journey of transitions: some gradual, some abrupt, none avoidable. These times they are a’changing as the saying goes.
Each morning, I find respite in that first-of-the-day walk with the dog. It may be brief, but it is precious. It is the meditation for which I don’t otherwise find the time. Bless you, my furry friend, for distracting me from my troubled thoughts. Thank you for your attention to the flowers in the yard, the bird on an overhead wire.
Posted in A Bridge Between, A Glimpse of the 8th Child, Fathers and Daughters, On Aging Parents, The Story of 'A Bridge Between'
Tagged #aBridgeBetween, adult children of aging parents, Aging, aging parents, caregiving, elder health care, eldercare, Seniors Facing Loss
He will tell you he is content. He has no pain. He is happy–as long as my mother is by his side. He has no wants, has a roof over his head. And yet, he is still curious and ready for adventure. He has lost much of his memory but his mind still works.
“Where do they all live?” My father often requests an update on his nine children. And yes, he is quite sure he had nine, though he’ll correctly state, “I didn’t have them; your mother did.”
So, I listed the current residences for him. From Oregon to Alabama to New Mexico then Atlanta, upstate New York and western Massachusetts and lastly, his two youngest near him, still, on Cape Cod.
It began as an easy translation that I could remember and use at book signings. It has become almost an incantation, a magical phrase never far from my mind. Just as my father has his go-to questions that he repeats over and over, continually curious yet never able to retain the answer, I repeat the words over and over in my mind. Vivere per l’oggi! Live for today!
My parents’ planned anniversary party–their 70th!–is just three months away. In three years–a more challenging time frame–there is my father’s often expressed goal, his 100th birthday. Its advent will trigger the long-ago announced and much desired party replete with dancing girls and horse with plumes.