Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Life's pathways

"It's not for sissies," saith my father-in-law, who is 93, sharp as a tack, but physically somewhat less than sound. He means old age, of course. I dare not complain, almost 30 years younger. Yet, I creak when I get out of bed, and I get out of bed too often, often in the middle of the night, in fact, to perform certain bodily functions that won't wait 'til morning.

More on that later.

Last week, in California, a 26-year-old and I rolled up to a retirement home to meet a woman who worked in the office. "I spend all-together too much time at these places," I told him, as we parked the car. My wife and I had just returned from a similar institution in Wisconsin, where my mother lives, and my father-in-law is a resident just down the road from our place.  "I know them too well," I said.

"You know," he told me, the garish effects of ripe youth all over him, "places like this always look like fun--like dorm life all over again."

"It's not like dorm life," I told him, affecting a tone from the grave.  "It's not at all like dorm life, believe me."

Anyway, back to bodily functions, too many of them.  Just one of my trepidations in moving to a new house was negotiating the path to the porcelain in deep and utter darkness. After all, we live in the country, where one of the blessings is a Milky Way so pronounced it looks like a highway in the night sky.  But it is the country, and, good night!--it's dark outside, very dark.  

What's more, our new bedroom is approximately half the size of the one we've slept for the last thirty years, and the path from my side of the bed--and how is it things like "my side of the bed" get written in stone anyway?--is a pathway so narrow I've got to walk it sideways.  Couple that with a multi-colored toenail two months from falling off, a big toe so sensitive that even a gentle rap makes me wish for death--and we've got trouble in River City, which is to say Alton, even though we live, you might say, just outside the suburbs.  

I could, of course, hold it, my water that is--that is, if I were Superman. But I'm not, and I'm in my sixties, and when I wake up--and I do--it's because the water's on and running and I'd better find a way to jiffy off to the porcelain.

Here's the good news. I'm getting there.  It's dark as night in our bedroom of course, because my wife, who grew up on a farm, thinks that somewhere in Deuteronomy the Bible says that man and woman shalt sleep only in utter darkness. My side of the bed--I'm not envious either--is right next to this old house's chimney, so there's a crease in the wall where the dark wood paneling angles around the brick.  Like a handle.  Sheer blessing.

First step?--reach for that crease and pull yourself up and out.  I got it. Then, like a surfer, keep your left hand up along that paneling until you can reach into the depth of night and locate the sharp and hard edge of the dresser, right there at the foot of the bed (it's not a massive bedroom). Don't ram that sore toe into the dresser or howling will wake your wife who, in her miasma, will dial 911--after all, you just had a stroke.  

Now, slide your hands along the edge of the bureau until it ends, then take a sharp right, walk straight ahead, reaching for the door handle. Beware! the door may be closed.  It's that dark.

What I'm saying is, we've been in this house now since July, and I think I got the path marked in my psyche. The truth?--I don't even think about it anymore. I know the steps, the movements, maybe not as well as I knew them in the old house (which was in town and vastly less midnight-ish), but I've got 'em. Turn left at the  bedroom door and the barn light offers some relief through the kitchen window and, just a few steps west, the bathroom window as well. It's become a well-worn path.


Don't know why, but I was thinking about New Mexico last night while doing this delicate dance to the john, because here and there in Chaco Canyon, where the sandstone is sheer, hand and toe holds still march straight up walls so high it takes your breath away just imagining how on earth the Anasazi ever, ever could scale 'em. I'm told there are toe holds on Zuni Mountain too, marking the paths the people took to escape the Conquistadors  who were interested only in gold and rape and pillage.  

Those paths are marked forever in the face of the rock, the path to safety, the path to life itself.

That's what I was thinking while inching on my way along to the toilet.

Okay, maybe it's not the same thing.  Don't blame me. I was only half awake and generally not subject to delusions of grandeur.

But neither is old age anything at all like the dorm, dang it.

At least I made it.


Anonymous said...

The VP debate, "IF a wise man has an arguement with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs and there is no quiet." Prov. 29:9

Anonymous said...

We have Anasazi stairs up the sides of Red Rock Park. Check them out the next time you come to Rehoboth. And we also have a solution for your "real" problem, from a 75 year old who must also wear a sleep apnia mask all night and not disturb his wife. Go to W-M and get a plastic 2.8 one quart Clorox Ultimate Care Bleach jug. That brand is important. Empty the bleach into one of your loving wifes half empty bleach jugs. Next , pull out the plastic spout which then exposes the large uncluttered hole. Rinse the container with water and then put 2 drops of Dawn liquid soap in a large cup of water and pour it into the empty Dawn container. Screw the large blue lid onto the container and shake it vigorously to make a lot of soap suds which will muffle the sound of your "?" so the noise will not awaken your wonderful wife. Screw the lid on tight when finished and place the treasure on the floor right there near your stack of books. You won't have to taken even one step from your bed for seniors relief. I am sure that the Anasazi gramps didn't have to climb up and down their stairs to find moon lite relief. Clean it out with water in the morning and leave it open by your bed to dry out for tomorrow. This is one of the "Ultimate" solutions to aging. I hope our friend and neighbor will find time to check out the other verses in Proverbs 29:7,12,20, and 27 in the NIV.

Anonymous said...

Correction. "pour it into the empty(Dawn)Clorox container" I am sure glad that our VP didn't make these senior type errors last night.

Anonymous said...

Biden has given for the past 10 yrs. an avg. of $369 a yr., both him and his wife.....SO WHAT IS YOUR PT.?

Anonymous said...

That's $369 to CHARITY, if you didn't get the drift.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find any info on Ryans charitable giving, but I would venture to say it was more than $369. Romney gave over $7M the past 2 yrs. in charitable giving...more that all of us together, I'm sure. Avg. person gives 2-3% of their income. I know what you want. You want the govn't to control everything you do from the cradle to the grave. Look at the countries that are doing that now. They are going under. And there is no freedom. If that happens here, someday it'll be illegal for you to have a Bible in this country, 'cause the govn't will control everything.'

Anonymous said...

Well I guess us Mericans have to be really be afraid of something as we drive down the Interstate Highways to pass out our free bibles. Do you think those good looking Morman young people should continue to be free as they knock on your doors and share their "Christian faith"? Invite them in sometime and share your faith with them. Maybe they don't feel free to visit with you as they do where I live. Our 'Government " is really a reflection of "Us", and the hostility and fear we express really concerns me at times.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jimmy

Get a PSA test... if that is okay, take some Saw Palmetto.

You may not be able to write your name on a rock like we did when we were younger, BUT you might get up less a night.