The cuckoo clock ticks. The floors creak with the slow movement of the elderly woman traversing the length of the living room and the dining room, cane maneuvered by one hand, the other hand holding the day’s newspaper, just retrieved from the front step.
Great hall height BUMBLING forward inside all the way to cake breakfast before drop eyelids into the deep. Being of course, is perfectly soluble fight and fought fraught? Bought for naught? While I DANCE tripp ingly two sides that’s understood,
or should be,
if you get my drift. I read just the other day, somewhere, or maybe I heard it? Well, I won’t bore you with the how or the why, but you follow what I’m saying.
It was like, the time comes when the young take up the cause left behind by the old. Something close to that. Oh, maybe, the time comes when the old give up their cause to the young. Yeah, I think that’s was it. The time comes when the old give up their cause to the young.
Souls fly higher daily, skin thinned into translucence; some march straight ahead to the edge of the cliff and step out into air; some slow until inert stasis is the wall paper of their last days; some push against dread and fear; some laugh and joy in the legacy they’ve built; some writhe deep in pain and suffer the sloughing of the dying flesh; some faces light with the promise of more life to come; some pull the trigger in search of false relief.
I hear Mother coming; her cane clunking. My mind flies to memories treasured. I hover, chose and settle in to enjoy.
“Decaf?” The waitress sets a glass of water and a napkin wrapped knife, fork and spoon on the table.
His solid but not overweight figure sits tall against the back of the booth, his hair white, every hair combed into place; his eyes bright, a smile on his face, his cream colored, short sleeved, button-up shirt and brown slacks, not new but clean; his walking shoes a little scuffed.
The diner is clean, if well worn. Much used faded counters nicked and scarred, brown booth seats with a sag here and there, wood chair legs nicked, metal table stands marked where decades of shoes kicked or rested. Some faint muzac plays overhead. People chat, waitresses weave in and out of the tables, arms laden; people eat. It is a little cooler in the middle of the room and warmer in the booths against the east windows, their shades angled to keep the sun out of the eyes of patrons.
He isn’t cold. His morning three mile walk has warmed him and built his appetite.
“No decaf, high octane,” he hands a menu back to the waitress, “bring me the Grand Slam; eggs fried. Bacon and sausage.”
“Syrup or jelly for the pancakes?” She writes on her order pad.
“Both. And toast. Add toast.” He smiles again.
In my mind I walk into that diner and sit across from him. His eyes light with love and joy at seeing me. I hand him a wrapped box with a bow and a tag, Happy Eight-Eighth Birthday, Daddy. His grin is awkward.
“You didn’t need to do this,” he pulls off the bow and peels off the paper.
I smile at the memory of his strength, his stamina, his love for life, his drive to make a difference in his world, his sharp grasp of things political, sociological and spiritual. His ability to still lift the hedge trimmer and the edger and to navigate the lawn mower. His confidence that still sent him onto the garage roof to trim a dead plum tree limb and God’s grace that urged him safely back to the ground just minutes before a 4.2 on the Richter scale hit. He was fearless and bold. Even at eighty-eight. Mother called it reckless and foolish.
I hang on to the scenes of his life, vitality and joy. They weren’t our last scenes. Those were hospice and changing diapers and giving morphine and a skeleton pushing through translucent, whisper weight skin. I skim past those and hang on to a truth. Those last days were just the cocoon breaking open, setting his soul free.
I miss him. I ache. I cry. I smile at his silly sense of humor. I breathe in the certainly he’s there waiting for me; in eternity with the Creator.
Mother has made it at last to the kitchen. I turn to her,
“Morning, Mother,” I smile. Daddy and Mother were like night and day together. Being here with her and remembering him, I see the differences no longer matter. Daddy lived his beliefs and then he gave up his cause to the young. Mother is nearly there.
My journey continues. I have a choice. I begrudge the time I no longer have with Daddy. I get irritated at the task of being with Mother. I watch any brighter, bigger purpose and meaning shrivel up while I trudge through the mundane. I feel myself drowning.
I reach for a lifeline and I’m pulled up to keep walking, to take the steps onward. I take heart from Daddy’s life. I slough off the dread, the weight of unfulfilled expectations. I let go of the hurts, imagined or real. I remember the love, I remember the promise of eternity. I believe. I carry my cause, forged in the smelt of their influence, with honor. I’ll keep on, until it’s my turn to leave a cause for the young to carry.