Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Growing Old Didn't Happen...


I suppose we all have romantic, fantasy even, thoughts that we carry around with us from the time we are first aware of our cognitive thinking, processing, remembering... thoughts of what our lives will be like...  Most important just who we will spend our life with...  Little girls dream of their wedding days, little boys dream of hitting homers and winning the heart of that special girl as he rounds third for his victory stomp on home plate...

Most if not all of us are familiar with the movie, The Notebook, that great love story between the kid from the poor side of the tracks; Noah and how he won the live of his life; Allie...  Sadly Allie slips into memory loss as she ages and Noah, undaunted, reads to her every day from his journal, in an effort to reactivate Allie's memory of who they were together...  What their life was together...  There are short moments when he is successful, but as it happens we Alzheimer's, Allie far too soon isn't able for Noah to reclaim her... Yet in a romantic way, in their deepest love, in an "only in the movies" ending, one night they pass away together, holding each other, snuggled in Allie's care facility single/twin hospital bed...

Being happy, living life, growing old together with the love if your life is rowing your bait down that river where life is truly but a dream...  Yet, here I sit, at a family gathering, it's 2:51am, I am wide awake and I am saddened tonight for a couple reasons...  Some very important things in my life are changing, going away, ending...  When these things happen, all it does is call to my mind that I didn't get the Notebook life or ending...  There is no real princess at Disneyland and life is filled and chilled with far to many mysteries and there's too many questions that never seem to end or stop coming at you...  Val's been gone now nearly 1 1/2 years...  I am constantly aware of what that means...  On sum, my life as I knew it, as I wanted, it is now gone...   Anything I come around to now, achieve, or grasp onto is pretty much at "best" is a 2nd place award, but definitely no where near the first place winner, that #1 winner whose jacket remains out back, on a shovel handle awaiting his best judgement on what to do next... Being widowed is fraught with peril, without so many  "little" pieces of understanding that my  younger friends in cannot possibly understand and won't until they thrust themselves into their families life...  So yeah, growing old with Val didn't happen...  




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Remember....


I am gifted...  In so many ways...  Blessings are thick, rich and I am filled with joy...  The joy is a breakthrough from the sorrow and the sadness, but...  I still remember...  It about 25 days shy of 4 years ago, when our family and many of our son's (Keith) business partners had joined our family for a summer ending outing at our beloved Banks Lake...  We have been going there now some 28 summers and oh what a beautiful, special, hallowed, sacred place this is for our family...  Yes, well, I remember every moment of Banks Lake...  How deep my gratitude is for this amazing place...  One might think we would avoid it because of the haunting memories of the times Val was in the hospital there and then when she collapsed on the beach in Sept of 2010 and I rushed her to the ER only to learn that her cancer was back...  Yes...  Well I remember...  But she said she would always be there...  There and the temple...  I am really looking forward to this next week...

 
 Val is walking atop of Steamboat Rock (summer of 2012, her last summer with us) the big butte you see to the right of the setting sun... in the picture below...

 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Thought I Would Be In Trouble...


I have a dear departed friend named Robert, who died in March 2006 of Pancreatic Cancer...  The last time I saw him, I was helping him out of bed and as his frail, skin and bones body clung to me, he whimpered in a mix of pain and bewilderment, "Dan, I think I am in trouble here."  I didn't want to believe it.  Val was barely finished with her chemo, her hair was coming back, she had returned to playing tennis and I did not understand what Robert meant, nor did I know what to say to his plea to me.  All I remember thinking is, "Boy, we are so lucky Val is doing so well."

You know, when you rely on someone for as long as I did on Val, when I realized she would be leaving me, I wondered, "Am I going to be in trouble here?"  I thought of my pal Robert and how it was *me* saying, "I think I am in trouble here."

 
 
You see, Val is the diligent one.  The faithful one.  The prayerful one.  The committed one.  Me?  I am a flake.  I joke my way through life.  I must admit that the most stirring thought I had when I heard the news about Robin Williams was, "Another funny man who was hurting so badly, he had no alternative left."  Dimming silence and darkened thoughts that torment those who have lost all hope has got to be the worst feeling ever.  I know that Val's passing has been very hard for me, but I haven't lost hope or belief in what I know to be true, valued and eternal.
 
 
Last night, our hospice bereavement group had a potluck dinner.  It was a rain threatening evening, chilly for August, and yet, I felt a bounce of relief seeing where I have come from, what I have come through in the last 4 months...  I drove home feeling gifted and blessed.
 
Oh I know its not over, I know that until my last mortal breath I shall miss Val and think of her daily and often in someway all throughout the day...  But, I have realized that in the space and time that we live here in this human experience, it is but a brief moment in all of the never beginning and never ending scope of eternity...  When I heard Steve Jobs said, "WOW, OH WOW..." as he slipped from this life, I knew, "He is understating everything."

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tan Arms...


I started a book back in 1995 called "Tan Arms".  As I would ride my Harley around the country (during the days I was a Harley dealer) I would photograph in black and white film, cool old towns, delapitated buildings and people who were in their 60s, 70s, 80s + and do a short little background interview on them.  I guess you could say I had visions of writing for a long, long time...

I have often thought about hands and arms...  How essential they are to so many things we do everyday...  And as I noticed with most of these people I was meeting, they all had very tan, weathered, leathery, tan arms....  Interestingly enough I also began to notice things about my own hands and arms that I was oblivious to before...  I learned I was a very touchy person...  I learned that when I spoke I used my arms and hands to gesture, to exaggerate my body language just about everytime I would speak...  Some have described me as a "big ol teddy bear" - I communicate alot with my hands and my arms...



I have also noticed that my own hands and arms are weathering...  The blood vessels in my hands are more pronounced, I am starting to remind myself of my dad in this regard...  My wedding ring is loose, I have been losing weight, no appetite anymore really...  The hair on my arms is starting to match the white hair on my head...  I also know that in it the longing of my arms for physical strength, that I had so easily when I was a young strapping man...  And I think the same is true for the love that my hands and arms can communicate to those whom I love and care for...  I watch my grandchildren feel comfort in my touch, I recall that was how Val liked to be "shown" that I loved and cared for her too...  Touch...  With my "tan arms"...  Even as old and "old man like" as they are now becoming...


When I hold you in my arms
it's a breath of fresh air,
when I hold you in my arms
I forget what's out there,
All those people with their faces
walkin' up the street,
They don't have to say a thing
just look around and you see.

New buildings going up,
old buildings coming down,
New signs going up,
old signs coming down,
You gotta hold onto something in this life.

Well the older generation
they got something to say,
But they better say it fast

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sound of Music...


My 10th season with this theater company...  Tonight draws our production of the Sound of Music to a close...  We auditioned in early spring and have been together as a cast since May readying ourselves for a 10 show run, 3 weekends...  and I am always a bit saddened when we strike the set, go back to our lives, our separate ways...  I am eternally bonded with most of my fellow cast members...  I love them and I feel their love toward me...

But today its different...  You see Anna and her husband and their 3 kids have left, moved, to Utah...  They pulled out this morning about 10am...  No longer are they just 3 minutes away...  No more will she and her family pop in...  I can't call Brandon to come "fix" my electronic needs, my household "handyman" stuff, I am on my own...  Another tide gone out...  Another change in life that will impact how I feel, and how my days feel to me...

Change...  again...


I am so thankful for my family and for Val for making them who they are...  I am the luckiest man in the world and I am so blessed in so many ways...  My heart will enlarge and I will find my way, I will be in Utah more now...  I am certain of that...  With the A's there...  (This is Alexis during their wedding reception here at our place, "Ganah's Garden"...



and now the Parkers...  I am determined to find myself there more and more...

Thank you Val for gifting me Anna, I will miss her terribly, but I am ok...


Thursday, August 7, 2014

It All Goes So Fast...


Do you ever wonder why you spend a third of your life asleep?  How about how when you were a kid, all the painful minutes spent in school seemed to drag on forevvvvvvver!  And what about how intimidated you felt the firsts that you experienced in your life; going to school, moving into a new neighborhood, meeting new friends, learning new things... I remember being so unsure of everything.  I think those new moments in my life gave me pause and fueled my "humor" switch... I reasoned if you made a joke about the firing squad you would never feel the bullets!

I'm too tired tonight to finish my thoughts here...  I will circle back tomorrow...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Nobody Tells Anyone...


Everyday, and I mean every single day, I run into someone who wants to know about; how I am, that they have a memory or something wonderful to share about Val, my kids and how they're doing... you get the idea and I'm pretty sure, unless you live an isolated life, you too get these moments of reminders like me, "yes, I really lost Val and I am alone." I'm in my 16th month of her going away now. And if I ponder a single thing the most about all the many facets of this experience, the one piece that keeps floating to the top more than any other is, "Nobody told me about this." You see, it's impossible to live in this mortal sphere and not witness illness, loss, dying and death. But it seems like until you, yourself lose the single most important person to this reality, other experiences you witness about you are "just other peoples trials". You take food over, you give hugs, you say cliché things to console, you reconcile thoughts by "that's what cancer does" or "it's was their time, they were 94" or "that child was so pure all she needed for her eternal progression was a body" and you go back to coaching little league, baking brownies for the PTA, or jump on a conference call, because life for you goes on. But now, now I realize the depth to all this. And as I stand back, I wonder, of all the billions and billions of people whose spirits have abandoned their mortal bodies, passed through the veil into Paradise, how can it be that there is no cook book for this very important, difficult time? Grief is a hushed conversation between the grieving. Feelings of loss and missing those you love so much feels like you're getting whacked with a wooden tenderizing mallet on your entire body, every waking moment of your day. You think about getting on with life and you might even hope to find another who can spread some feelings of being wanted, loved even, you go out, you converse, but it all not only feels like it's just spackle spread across a big gaping hole in your heart wall, but it looks like a 3 year tried doing that patching. Are you ready? Ready for what? Just what is what? And I come back to, "nobody told me". It's strange, none of it makes any sense. I use the bandage of my humor while trying to stop a tourniquet wound. And now, I'm here. What will I tell others? How will I give them road signs and warnings to help them pass these inevitable pieces of life in an easier way? It's a mirage. You see it, you keep walking, but it's either not there, or just out of reach. And, this is normal. Hmmmmm... Maybe it's that simple. All that I feel, all that I want to express, all the mental and emotional gymnastics I have are just simple normal. Hmmmmm... Yet, to sum it up so simply feels like I'm patronizing myself. "Val, I hope you're having a good laugh at my dilemma here. At least make it all count for something!"