40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Every day my parents wake up grateful to be here.
Dad finds the silver lining on even the hardest days. Failing eyesight brings sharper hearing. Using Siri to call friends without having to see the phone is a blessing. His mantra is “another good day”.
Mom is the realist. She says her daily prayers, finds joy in feeding and watching the cranes, and laughs at the woodpecker who “looks like he’s wearing striped pajamas”. Everyday she relishes the beauty in the open space around her. When pain is overwhelming and memory fails, she tells dad, “Si vamos a morir, vamos a morir.” (If we’re going to die, we are going to die.) Dad quickly retorts, “Wait a minute, I like it here!”
Over the last several years, my parents have experienced a lot of loss. Poker buddies, cousins, brothers, military friends, children of friends, doctors, and neighbors. They kneel at Rossary’s, pray at funerals, and dance at celebrations of life.
Today my father called his former business partner of 25 years whose prognosis is between one and three weeks to live. My mom usually predicts at least an hour-long conversation when my dad talks to Joe. But today’s chat was under five minutes.
There was no political banter or stock market mentions. In fact, after the conversation ended, dad slowly entered the living room and said Joe didn’t feel like talking. He abruptly said he had to go. My dad told him he was going to go eat a bowl of cereal. Joe paused and said, “Don’t eat Cheerios. If you’re going to eat cereal you’ve got to have oatmeal, something that will stick to you.” Then he said goodbye.
After dad told us this story and the clear fact that Joe still had his back even with oatmeal advice at 86, he wiped his eyes, picked up the binoculars, and peered out at the cranes. I saw him exhale as he watched their gentle landings and slow waltz across the field.
“Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one precious life?Mary Oliver