has been one of the worst years of my life. I say one of… because in 1966 I was sexually assaulted, and a tornado attacked Belmond, Iowa with both of my parents there for work… and me not knowing if they were alive or dead for about eighteen hours.
This has been another dragon of a year. The pandemic took away my substitute teaching job, removing permanently the last chance I had to do a thing I loved.
And, of course, my father has had a series of strokes that took away his memories of his wife and family and has left him dying in hospice care
He had another incident yesterday. They called my mother on her one day she was allowed to visit him (due to the pandemic) and told her not to come in. He hadn’t awakened that day, and they didn’t expect him to make it. So, she started calling all of us to let us know the end had come. Except it hadn’t. He did wake up after all. And Mom had to undo the final notices she had already done.
But he lost some ground. Before he could talk, even though his memory was mostly gone. He would talk about crazy things, like working in a Hardware store in Lubbock and needing to retire because his 89th birthday is this month and he was exhausted from working. (He did somehow remember his birthday accurately, though he has never worked in Lubbock, Texas.) Now he can only mumble incoherently. He is emaciated and loses ground daily.
And it is wearing on my mother who is 87 and has not been so alone since they married in 1956. I fear once he is gone, we will lose her too. I have spent long hours on the phone with mother and sisters for most of three months now. There has been tears and heartache over long-distance phone lines. The Trump Pandemic has kept us hundreds of miles apart.
I am reminded that my life has been pretty good compared to that of Jews and Gypsies and political dissenters in Germany and Poland in the 1930s and 40s. And the plague now is probably better than the Black Death in the Middle Ages. But, in the space of a year, we have reached a point where those comparisons are no longer merely exaggerations.
But bankruptcy, illness, and misfortune have not changed who I am. There is still more in life to be lived. At least until there isn’t. And on that day when I play that final game of chess with the Grim Reaper… Who knows? There’s still a chance I might win the game.
2 responses to “The Devil is in the Details”
All my parents are long dead, both biological and adoptive. My adoptive sister is dead too. I didn’t get to visit my father in time and I never knew about my sister until I did a Google search on her. My B-I-L had died and nobody told me, she’d moved to another part of the state and then she died. Nobody told me. Didn’t even know my bio-mom until literally the day before she passed.
I am now the “patriarch” for my immediate bio-family and my married family. (That and two bucks will get me a cup of coffee.) In my adopted family I still have one cousin who is two years older then me and he is healthy as a horse, thank God., so I’m not the eldest there.
All my childhood icons and role models are dying off. Even the Beatles and Stones are disappearing.
Part of me looks forward to shutting down. I don’t keep a bucket list for this reason. I’ve kicked too many of those in the past when everything I ever wanted became impossible, usually because of my own shortcomings. No reason to continue to disappoint myself. But I’m not going to accelerate the process.
I live in the moment and try to enjoy my micropleasures. I no longer fight over global warming or Trump tyranny or expect to tour the world or to be a celebrity or any of that. I leave that to the youngsters who have the energy and resources a long enough future to actually work on it.
Little by little my activities will diminish in scope until I reach my life’s event horizon. Life’s only purpose is to be lived. That’s a living being’s only job. Anything else is a delusion. But then, some people find great comfort in delusions. I’m not one of them.
My head is full of delusions. I don’t have a good grasp of what is real anymore. But that’s normal for retired middle school teachers. I do know this, though. When Bobby Fischer played the Grim Reaper, he used a “King’s Indian” defense. THAT’S A QUEEN’S ROOK CASTLE MANEUVER. And it didn’t work. Don’t use that one.