The heart of the hummingbird beats so fast, his entire body quivers. He is mostly on the move, flitting here and there, balancing mid-air to dip his long beak into the flower decorated feeder hole in the hummingbird feeder. I’ve watched him through the dirty window behind the desk as he flits from place to place. He is such a delicate creature, yet he perseveres, he continues his flight, his quivering quest for sustenance. He survives.
Mother comes to mind; her essential tremor that keeps her head moving in tiny jerks; her fragility when she doesn’t feel well. The effort it takes when she has to be out early to get to the dentist. Where there are two flights of stairs to climb to get to the office door.
“Do you want to go up the stairs,” I ask as we pull into the parking lot, “or shall I drive the length of the building, we’ll take the elevator and walk all the way back to here?”
I look over at her in the passenger seat next to me. She’s nicely dressed in green slacks and a flowered blouse under a white cardigan sweater. Her slightly graying hair is combed and sprayed. You wouldn’t know to look at her how difficult it was for her to push herself to get out of the house.
The day is a beautiful seventy-six degrees, blue skies, a nice breeze. The talk radio host expounds about things worth pushing towards, in his mind at least.
“We’d better take the stairs,” Mother says as she pulls off her sunglasses, “I’d rather be early than late.”
She’s such A trouper
She keeps pushing ahead, whether she feels well or not.
is pushing ahead to
and three teeth ADDED to her partial so
that she can eat easily. I leave the choice to her. Would I PUSH if I were eighty-six and in PAIN from a CROOKED back?
I push now to do all the right things for my health. I push now as I could live another 25-30 years; I push now to make those years easier. I push now because I hope. I push now against aging; I push now against loss of ability, against sagging, against creepy lines. I push as if I think I could really halt or slow the processes of time. I fool myself. I am a fool. Am I a fool?
Mother and I start the climb up the stairs. Her footed cane takes the first step. She grasps the railing with her right hand, her left directing that cane lest it teeter against one of the pebbles in the aggregate stone steps. The free-floating steps undulate and sway in the breeze, the pebbles bubble; I grasp her left arm and lift, trying to not leave a bruise. She’s moving too fast. She’s jerky as she hurries. The footed cane bumps half on, half off the step.
“Nice and slow,” I take the next step with the cane, “take your time.”
She breathes out a sigh, slows, and carefully places the cane, then she and I together pull her up. We lift off and huff and puff through each step until we’ve reached the top of Mt. Everest.
Going back down, the pictures in my head are not pretty. The view down the top side of Mt. Everest is long and steep. One misstep and she’ll be Humpty-Dumptied. How will I explain that to her other children? We descend ok, but I can’t get the eerie wariness out of my head.
Later, I close my eyes to doze and see bleak days filled with sponge baths, wheelchairs, bed-fast summer, winter, spring and fall and utter dependence. My head screams, “I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE.” I twist and turn in my worry.
“STOP IT.” I sternly speak into my nightmare and wake myself. It’s one step at a time, Victoria, one step at a time. That’s what that shepherd boy knew, in the black of night, out on those lonely, cold hills, thousands of years ago. He knew it was a step at a time. And, he knew he didn’t take those steps alone.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
He made a choice.
I will make a choice. I choose life. I choose to push. I choose to take the next step. I choose to trust. I choose not to fear. I choose not to walk alone.