Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Morning Thanks--on February 17th
If we keep our wits about us, there are likely few chapters of our lives for which we are more well- prepared than old age. Aging happens to all of us, after all; and there's no end to the role models. Some do it well. Some don't. We can learn.
In the last ten years, I've learned how to find my way around old folks homes. But my tally of visits is scant when compared to the records my sister and my wife have posted. They both tended aging parents--my parents too-- reverentially, sacrificially, daily.
But everyone knows what's coming. I can feel it in being less sure of foot, ice or no ice, and in a memory growing more and more beleaguered by morning fog that hangs around all day. Friends of ours admitted that not long ago they drove to LeMars, only to have forgotten, once there, why they did. We've not sunk to that level yet, but the story is hilarious only because all of that is just down the pike, not a whole lot farther than Sioux City.
Years ago, a friend of ours ran into an old woman wandering aimlessly on the street and asked her if she needed help. She hemmed and hawed a bit, so he asked her if she lived at the Homestead. "Oh, heavens no," she told him. "I'm that far gone." Truth was, she was and she did.
I feel it in my knees, my kidneys, and even my reach, and I see it in things that sag and hear it in blurting bellies. I feel it in a heaviness that makes staying at home feel like a blessing. Years ago in South Africa, I sat around a table at a bed-and breakfast place and listened to another guest wistfully tell our gracious host that she was having a good time so far from home but that she'd arrived at the age when she couldn't help feel that staying home is its own kind of joy. I remember thinking someday I'd feel the same way. As I do now. Sometimes.
But last night I took out the atlas to plot a road trip to old battlefields at Slim Buttes, Little Big Horn, and Rosebud, the Powder River Country, a look at old forts and a visit to Devil's Tower. See?--"Heavens no, I'm not that far gone."
Like it or not, this morning belongs to Psalm 90. It's only right I should be numbering my days. It's my birthday. Last night my son and daughter-in-law called from Oklahoma, and my daughter and family shared a Pizza Ranch buffet. I got cashews and candy from my grandkids, and a big outdoor clock from my wife so this spring, when the snow melts, I don't have to run in to check the time. Atomic, too. Accurate, even though I'd rather have it lie.
And sometime last night my parents arrived and right now sit here beside me. They're both dead-and-gone, but not so far away really, never so very far in spirit. They're here because my mother wouldn't fail to remember February 17, 1948. not that anyone else has. For some reason I'm thinking about her this morning, probably because on this morning she's thinking about me.
That's why she's here--Dad too. She couldn't really forget, even if she tried, just as my wife will never forget our kids' birthdays. Mothers were there enduringly.
The two of them are sitting down here right now, Dad trying to find Fox News on a TV he doesn't understand, Mom smiling on the other side of the desk, immensely proud that her lamentably liberal son is going on and on about her and giving thanks and honor. Dad sits there beside her, his arm around her as it so often was. He's thinking about her; she's thinking about me.
And they're both happy I'm remembering my birthday because they won't forget. This morning, even though they no longer need my blessing, nor any kind of indoor or outdoor clock, they deserve my thanks, in abundance, my morning thanks on this morning especially, the morning of my birthday.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:48 AM