This past month, with Peggy’s hard times and several friends’ birthdays, has been the sort that concentrates the mind. At this age every such event gives pause and seems existential. It turns my attention to ask ultimate questions.
What is the meaning of this?, said I to myself, said I. I am not among those who say that everything happens for a purpose with a grand puppeteer in the firmament pulling strings or that mishaps occur when planets lose their way in orbit. However random setbacks can wake up dormant strengths within.
Back in the day we could dial 411 and get the operator on the line. I once asked her for the meaning of life and she wisely replied, What city please? She might have added, I cannot reveal that information.
My habit of mind is to entertain worse case scenarios and then work my way back. Peggy refuses to go to ultimates. She lives in the present. She assumes the outcome can be dealt with it when it arrives. I’m busy anticipating and rehearsing the future. My head goes to, what if. She lives in, what is. She trusts her resources to deal with whatever shows up. I’m a slow learner. It’s only been thirty years we are together. Too bad she didn’t get me in my formative years.
These differences have surfaced as we face morbidity and whatever it is that follows. Similarly, a late birthday can become an occasion to take the measure of one’s life even if it can’t be captured fully with mere words. As for the true meaning of life I’d be glad to share it with anyone who sends me the key to their safe deposit box and a box top from Kellogg’s All Bran.
I’ve been delinquent reporting Peggy’s progress mainly because it has been nearly imperceptible to me. Maybe I’ve been too close. It’s like watching a ball game with seats on second base. Today, I’m happy to report, has been a giant step forward. She walked and then she walked some more with her walker and without feeling light-headed or sapped of strength. Then she pedaled for ten minutes which involves knee motion she hasn’t had up to now.
About fifty years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss I remember attending a gathering at the John Tracy Clinic. Parents of deaf children spoke about how their youngsters had learned how to lip-read and speak mainly through their enormous effort and the program offered by the Clinic. I thought to myself that’s fine for them but I could never imagine devoting myself so entirely to their regimen. I did, my wife did and Janice now functions in the hearing world.
I don’t do well envisioning change. I’ve just about given up on Congressional politics, religious divisions, tribal warfare, our Supreme Court, embedded racism, Republican imbecility regarding climate change etc… I expect to leave this world with only marginal hope for mankind. But the Dodgers came back from worst to best and now Peggy is back on her feet. I expect her soon to imitate Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy….I’m walkin here, I’m walkin.