Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Yesterday, as we watched the election results come in, it was snowing a little.

This morning the sky is California blue, but the air is very cold, and there were ice crystals crackling and gleaming on the edges of the puddles as we walked to the post office with Aidan in his wheelchair which he uses for longer distance trips.

Kevin shoved the wheels over tire tracks deeply embedded in mud. Aidan sat up straight in his wheel chair, wrapped in a coat and a blanket for warmth, holding a trio of toilet paper rolls. When he holds them all together in his fingers they look like the decorative lights at a church down in town that we attend occastionally, so he calls them "St Anthony Lights". He has been carrying them everywhere for the past few days.

Everything has an overlay of quiet, for some reason. Kevin sat down by the fire to go through mail, coffee in hand, which makes the day feel like a vacation -- a slower pace, a more companionable atmosphere. It feels like our oldest, Liam, should be here too. The two grown children still at home, Clare and Brendan, who were voters for the first time this election, sat with us and we talked about all kinds of things. Somehow, the fact that they got to contribute their bit to this election gave us a sense of being adults together. They watched the results seriously yesterday and their comments today were thoughtful and considered. The national election did not go the way any of us had wanted, and we talked about that. Clare is in the college application process and during the afternoon talked by phone with one of the admissions people at her college of choice. Brendan is studying the driver's handbook. The two of them are starting to live their own lives.

Kevin and I commented on our eyesight in our mid-forties -- how I can see a normal paperback font, just barely, but he has to wear those Costco magnifying spectacles. To illustrate, he tried to read without them, extending the book out to the full reach of his arm and peering to guess at words. "the detective made his way to..... Cambridge, or Carebing? ... Court and met with ...." The grown children watched and smiled at his attempts.

Picture by Clare

For some reason all this made my mind range forward to the future. Just a month ago my parents and my siblings and their spouses and children met up in Oregon for a reunion and my dad set up a slide show of our younger years, when I was a teenager a bit younger than my grown daughter is now. I was the oldest of the three children in my own family. It was strange to look at myself and my younger brothers and think of how we now all have children of our own.

I could almost see my husband and I in ten or twenty years. In ten years, probably only Aidan and Patrick will be at home. In twenty years, it could be just Aidan, depending on how things work out for him. I hope we will have a bigger wheelchair by then; we joke that maybe he will be pushing us. The kids may have children of their own. Kevin and I will have more afternoons to sit by the fire and read together.

Of course, we never really know what tomorrow will hold in detail. As a teenager, I could never have envisioned where my life would be now. I am glad that there was so much in store for me that my teenage mind couldn't even have dreamed. Even during our worst days, on trips to San Francisco following an ambulance, or once a medical helicopter, where we didn't know what the future held, I knew that life was a gift.

Now, for one conscious vacancy of sense,
The stream is gathered in a deepening pond,
Not a mere moving mirror. Through the sharp
Correct reflection of the standing scene
The mind can dip, and cleanse itself with rest,
And see, slow spinning in the lucid gold,
Your liquid notes, imperishable Time.
--Christopher Morley


Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous post. I am savoring Claire's beautiful photo, your vivid, articulate description of a day in your life, and the poetry.

Anonymous said...

Your eyes will go, too. It happens to everyone shortly after they hit 40. Normal part of aging. Drugstore glasses are probably good for at least a while, though I have a pair of prescription reading glasses (and then some from teh dollar store so I can find something).

Hard to predict the rest though, as you say. Best to live in the moment and enjoy the wonderful times you are having.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Willa. I love the sense of living in the moment and taking everything in that your post embodies.


Susan L said...

This really is lovely, Willa. It brought tears to my eyes. My youngest one just moved out, so now all of my children are grown and gone. That future you are imagining is here for me. And I intend to find loveliness in it. And I do love having grandkids and grown children who call home daily just to chat. There's a new kind of busyness in my life, but there really is more extended leisure for doing things there wasn't time for before. Like reading by the fire. :-)

But this isn't my post. It's yours. And I really enjoyed reading it.

I suppose I should sign off because I have a feeling I could comment my way through your entire blog this evening! :-)