The Reminder


trees purple

Early this morning, with hooded lids open in the dark before dawn, I lay in my bed to sounds of a bird chirping outside my window blinds. Lyrics of nature welcomed me to a brand new day.

Dropping paperwork to the top of my desk, I strolled outside with a cup of coffee. Sun splashed to warm my face as I sunk deep, deeper still into the middle of an old foam patio chair. Soon, I felt as though I’d be swallowed up, but I did not care. This was the first of the season. Cushions cuddled me like a babe in the womb, making me feel safe and secure all around.

New neighbors seen moving into bird houses a few weeks earlier flit and flew back and forth between feeders, gathering seed. The sky was painted in royal blue with not a cloud floating by. Twinkling chimes hung from trees ready to bloom near others that were already full and flowered in lavender or cream. I closed my eyes to imagine the tranquility within. It had been a rough go of it since Easter.

My dear father who I have so often written about had found new love again after losing my mother to a long battle with cancer five years ago. As with any blending of families, even adults far apart, there were a few minor adjustments it seemed. Yet, my siblings and I were so very happy for our father. To think he had a second chance in life! There was a smile on his face again, a new step in his stride, and although he was hesitant to begin anew, he finally found the courage by eloping on March 11th. A ‘wedding party’ is scheduled in Arizona on April 23rd.

Sixteen days ago, on March 27, Easter Sunday, my dad’s new bride, Eileen was admitted to ER where she was diagnosed with cancer. My father, of course, is in a state of shock. When all test results came back last Friday, the unbelievable. His wife of three weeks has a very aggressive form of cancer that has spread throughout her body. Last night, it was nearly touch and go.

It’s difficult to concentrate on work these days. My heart aches for Eileen’s physical pain together with the emotional pain of my father. How can life be so unfair? The house they had planned to move into sits empty and waiting…for what?  I feel helpless, but each and every day I send my father messages of support together with pictures of inspiration and encouragement.  He knows that I will be in Arizona together with all of my siblings on April 23rd.

I’m thanking God for nature together with the sweet sounds of the birds today. I’ve been slapped in the face with mortality together with the gift of life. Definitely, not the first time. Perhaps it’s another reminder?

Maybe I’ll sit slumped in this patio chair for the rest of the week…

Blessings to All.

 

Expiration Date


From the moment we wail into this world there is an ‘expiration date’ atop our head.  Perhaps it’s stamped invisibly to the bottom of our baby wrinkled feet.  Exposed and bittersweet, this fact of life slapped me in the face yesterday, leaving a white fingered imprint across my rose, blushed cheek.  In some small way, I might think of this as a “Chronic Condition” to be lived with until my dying day.

While at a family gathering, in arms still young with muscles strong, my sons held sleeping newborns while toddlers ran to play and jump and sing.  Older, ‘little’ ones giggled at Grandpa’s silly faces while striving for his special attention.  Sitting in her cushioned seat was my great-great aunt with vision all but gone together with wrinkles much like an infant’s first.

Looking about the room of celebration for my son’s birthday together with my aunt’s visit here, the whole of our lifetimes existed in that space..that single place.  Soon, the Senior Menu was placed in front of me.  Gathered around the wooden, weathered table were my sons still so young and strong.  So proud.  There were babies in the womb, a precious toddler of two, an infant barely born and another learning first steps, too!  And through my arm, my beloved elderly one with kind words full of wonder.

Soon the love of family chaos erupted over a brunch of steaming food on restaurant plates of white trimmed in navy blue.  My aunt sat next to me where I held her withered hand in order to ease any anxiety.  In her ear, a small hearing-aid had been placed.  Slowly, I described the location of her yellow scrambled eggs and slice of dry brown toast with fresh banana slices on the side.  She eats like a bird, but ‘sings’ like an A cappella choir.

Although it was difficult for my aunt to see, she enjoyed the many sounds of newness.  How delighted she was to hear the noises of  little ones.  Soothing, short panting puffs of breathing infants…in and out.  “Sleeping like angels in heaven at night,” she later said.   Across the table, toddler Gracie, sang nursery songs in silly rhyme….”Five Little Monkeys Jumping on My Bed.”  Clicking her tongue, the wee moppet head of bouncing curls clearly pronounced my aunt’s name for the very first time, G.R.E.A.T.- G.R.E.A.T……. A.U.N. T.  S.H.I. R.L.E.Y.   And, baby Briella, giggeled aloud with enormous smiles of laughter while popping chubby fists of squiggly yellow into her drooling mouth.

Later, in the quiet of the evening, my aunt began to speak of dear lost loved ones.  She is the last of her eight siblings.  Many of which she nursed before they passed on into the world of our next.  She spoke of her beliefs on pain before death, why God has His ways and what they meant to her.  Clearly, her long number of years upon this earth and inevitable mortality was on her mind.

Life…..a treasured gift never to be taken for granted.  For, each one of us has an expiration date.