The Bittersweet Pain of Nostalgia
Many years ago my family in post-war California sent me to live with my grandparents in New Mexico. My father was having trouble finding a job in the recession that followed the Great War, and my living with my grandparents took a huge load off of the family finances.
Grandpa bought a remote section of land running up into the Sangre de Christo range and was building a house on it, and I and two of my uncles were helping. My grandmother’s brother lived in the village about twelve miles away and he had spent most of his life there with his wife. I sometimes was left with them while the men went off to log. Logging was far too dangerous for a boy to wander around unsupervised.
One day while staying with Uncle A, as we called him, and Aunt Hattie, we went to visit a friend of their about another 15 miles away down a dusty track that led to Taos. The village is named Arroyo Hondo, and this woman had settled there with her husband at the turn of the century. She was old and wizened, and watered her garden with a long handled double action pump. She had a very old truck that wasn’t equipped with a starter, so she would hand crank that old truck and drive into Arroyo Hondo to get the mail and a few staples.
She was extremely independent, and had even made her own casket and dug her own grave so that she wouldn’t be beholden to anyone even after death. She even had a casket for her dog to be buried in the same grave.
I remember her house. It was simple, but well ordered. It only had one room, with a kitchen in the middle, her bed to one side and a sitting area to the other.
She wore a checked dress that was stiff with starch, and a matching bonnet that protected her face from the harsh sunlight of the high Rocky Mountains. Her dog, of some unknown breed, was scruffy with wiry hair, and it followed her everywhere. It slept with her at night on a special pad to protect the immaculate bedspread from his muddy paws.
To my shame, I have forgotten her name and the name of her dog. But that fall, word went out that she had passed, and the little Baptist congregation nearby held a memorial for her. They found her in bed with her hands neatly folded over her breast, and they put her in the casket she had made and buried her in the grave she had dug, and put the tombstone that she had chiseled in place. A local family took the dog in, but he died that same winter, and was put into his casket and buried next to its human. She even had a stone chiseled with his name.
I don’t know why, but I long to go to that place in Arroyo Hondo and find those grave stones. I am not even sure I could find it even if I was able to make that trip.
So I sit in front of the glowing cyclops today trying to come up with something other than my continual carping about my lot in life and my maladies.
Nothing comes to mind. My mind is a bale of cotton. My eyes want to close in blissful sleep, but something pops them open again. I have surveyed my ceiling from my bed. The cobwebs are familiar friends. Central air hums. Air freshener whooshes. Oscillating fan creaks and groans. Portable AC buzzes.
My nose itches. Then my arm itches. Then my forehead itches. Then my cheek itches. Then my leg itches. Then my ears itch. My shoulder hurts from the way I sleep on it. I think soon I will tire of breathing and just stop.
Up in the middle of the night. Another Tylenol. More opiates. Refill the water bottle. Eat a few chunks of fresh pineapple and trudge back to bed and wait for everything to kick in. I feel the easing of the pain in my shoulder. Good. The Tylenol is going to work. Then a sharp pain in the stomach and a burst of gas tells me the opiates are starting to work. Check my sugars to be sure that I don’t crash. Then the jaw clenching of the opiates followed by the relaxed breathing lets me know I am good for another four hours.
Watch the ceiling, day dream, float in the cotton, take a sip of water until daylight brightens the blinds. Get up, start the coffee, eat a couple of pieces of toast, and take a huge number of pills. Two morning shots of fast acting and slow acting insulin. Sip coffee.
I want to take my car to the battery place, but I need to call AAA to jump it. But that won’t get done today. I need to make an appointment with the dentist for both Snooks and I, but not today. I just want to go back to bed.
Read the emails, make a few comments, read the news, make a few comments, read the social media, make a few comments.
Then sit in front of the PC waiting for inspiration that isn’t coming.
Bat Kol Redux*
She whispers to me at night, In a voice so soft and light, Her words, like a gentle breeze, Carry me away with ease.
She speaks of dreams and hopes, Of endless possibilities and scopes, And in her words, I find solace, A sanctuary where my heart can find its balance.
Her whispers calm my restless mind, And in her embrace, I find, A love so pure and true, That I know she’ll see me through.
Through the ups and downs of life, Through joy and pain, and all strife, She’s the constant presence that stays, Guiding me through each and every phase.
So, as I close my eyes and drift away, I know she’ll be there, night or day, Whispering her love and light, And holding me close, so tight.
* Bat Kol is a Hebrew term that literally means “daughter of a voice.” It refers to a divine voice or a prophetic voice that is believed to have spoken to the Jewish people after the era of prophecy ended.
In Jewish tradition, the Bat Kol was considered a lower form of divine communication than prophecy, and was often used to communicate simple messages of encouragement or guidance. The Bat Kol was believed to be a voice that came from heaven and was heard by human ears, but only by those who were spiritually attuned to its message.
The concept of Bat Kol appears in various Jewish texts, including the Talmud and Midrash. It is often associated with the idea of a small, still voice that speaks to us in moments of contemplation or prayer. The Bat Kol is also sometimes used as a metaphor for the collective voice of the Jewish people or the voice of wisdom that emerges from Jewish texts and teachings.
Wanted to get one of these so Snookums and I could ride around Walmart in style. Of course, she would need a biker babes tat to go along with it …
… but she said no. 😢
On a happier note
Today on a much happier note, I took the long way home from the hospital today. The day is mild, a tad early for rattlesnake romance so it is a little safer wading through the sea of blue. It was a good day to just breathe the gentle perfume. I am so weary of my griping and complaining. In no way have I received my just deserts.
A little coffee, a little time with the bride of my youth, an easy run to the hospital and back for my bi-weekly finger poke. A homemade breakfast roll and some more coffee.
Yeah. I could get used to this …
Come, eat your bread with joy and drink your wine with a good heart, because God is pleased with your works! Always let your garments be white and let not your head lack oil. And see life with the wife whom you have loved all the days of the life of your futility, because she is your lot in life and in your labor that you labor under the sunThere is my command. And see life with the wife whom you have loved all the days of the life of your futility. I am ill. My life is a misery every day, yet I scrabble for one more day. I don’t think I’ll be resisting death. But who knows. One good man falls off a chair when he is young, and dies. An old fool lives until he is a hundred. I think I dread being a hundred even more. But Snookums. My lot in life, who isn’t without her own ailments and resignations, she is still the one I see to. And I will see to her with my last breath.
Well, I received my visit from Oizys, the goddess of misery this week. Not that I wasn’t expecting her. This is a time of trudging, and I arise several times a day, do something, and quickly retire. I put up a pretty good fight this time, but now I am just out of ammo, and I must step back into the refuge of He-Who-Protects and hides me from the evil of lesser gods. I am tired and discouraged.
I know many of you have words of kindness, but I am in no place to receive consolation, but I am not without hope. For good or for evil, I will emerge from this, but it is my cup, and I must walk it.
Petitions for strength and a sound mind are welcomed, however.
I don’t think I will be writing or socializing much through this time. It is what it is, to cite another worn out saw.
👀Seeking the right thing 👀
I am searching for a bit of clarity here: 👀
Bidens lawyers are casually strolling around Joe’s garage sipping Old Fashions and looking at Joe’s Corvette, and accidentally stumble across moldy pile of cardboard boxes that are full of classified materials inside that they didn’t see because they were classified, inform Joe that he needs to do the right thing with those unseen documents in cardboard boxes
Joe says he’ll need to look at those documents to determine what the right thing to do is but his lawyers tell him that looking at the unseen documents would not be the right thing to do. So Joe asks his lawyers to do the right thing with the documents because Joe believes in the right thing, and of course, lawyers know what the right thing to do with boxes of unseen documents inside is, and call the agency that originally determined the documents were piled behind the Corvette Joe’s garage were the right thing at that time, but aren’t the right thing now.
The lawyers agree to deliver the documents no one has seen since they were not authorized to see them, to the agency of right things to do. They then informed the reporters of right things that they did the right thing right thing, and the agency of right things to do lauds the lawyers on doing the right thing … and the American press lauds the President who loves to do the right thing, the agency of right things to do, and the lawyers on doing the right thing to do.
I feel like I am missing something. I hope I am doing the right thing by even asking what the right thing is ..
Well, I am now walking over another bridge I was going to wait to cross until I came to it. I am officially on palliative care now. Drugs and happy pills are ordered, but I can take them or not, and I am still being actively treated for heart, kidney and lung damage, so it isn’t like giving up entirely.
Or so I optimistically try to believe.
We are all born, we breed, we die … that is the world we inherited from our ancestor Adam. So I approach my octogenarian-hood this month greatly conflicted.
“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.” It was my plan to go before Snookums. I was ready. But since the stroke happened, she needs me here, and so I now ask God for more time. I don’t want her burdened with that responsibility.
Snooks has probably reached the plateau of her recovery, and any further healing will be in micro-millimeters and not miles. Her short-term memory has not improved much, and fatigue and stress only make it worse. Yesterday I awoke and saw the bathroom light was on, which isn’t unusual. She generally awakens a few minutes before I do. But she was in there a long time and I saw her go in and leave several times. That should have been my first clue, but I wasn’t totally awake yet.
The toilet had overflowed, and she was trying to handle the mess. The harder she tried, the more ineffective she became. I finally realized she was over stressed and sprang out of bed and took care of the stoppage while she cleaned up the flooding. She then took a nap.
If you know Snooks, you know she isn’t a napper. It was serious stuff happening. But finally, the mess was taken care of, and we had our morning coffee and cake. I noticed her right eye was sagging and asked my niece to keep an eye on her while I went to the palliative care interview. She did take another nap and skipped lunch, even after my niece offered to fix a sandwich. Today, that eye is still drooping, and she is still a bit pallid. I am hoping that a day of rest will get her back in condition.
I really need to become more proactive …
So the new day dawns. No crises, just a weak January sun peeking through the blinds. I sip my coffee, chat with Snookums, check my emails on the Chromebook, medicate myself, and ponder this new change in life. I am ready for a new adventure, to quote Bilbo Baggins …
More about the big I …
WARNING! GEEZER TALKING ABOUT HIS MALADIES AHEAD!
Sunday dawned overcast and cool today and I stumbled into the kitchen to start the coffee maker, then weigh myself, took my blood pressure, sugar, temperature, pulse and oxygen. Stuck myself with an insulin needle, filled my coffee cup and ate a healthy cardboard cookie made for diabetics, then went into the studio to check the day.
But Snookums quickly poked her head into the doorway and announced that she was up, and I could have coffee with her if I wanted. Translated, that means get your butt in here and spend some time with me. So, I dutifully padded back to the kitchen table for conversation and took her vitals while we were conversing.
I have been remiss in that, but it is a very necessary morning ritual for us. And this morning I let us run out of coffee cake. That is near the unforgivable sin in this household. So sometime today I have to run into town and pick up a couple of them from the bakery.
However, a new medical service from my health insurance wants to stop by and examine the two of us. I am not sure who they are, but like another service provided to me, it sounds like anything but health care. They don’t dress wounds, they don’t change catheters, they don’t do blood draws. But they come by every four months and take our vitals, apparently.
I am already enrolled in another health care service that pretty much does the same thing, but if I am running a fever, apparently, they will come by and take my vitals. Or I can make an appointment at the clinic and see a real doctor. I am not averse to nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, and sometimes actually prefer them. But I don’t need my vitals taken four times a year by them.
Snookums is still making progress, but it is by millimeters instead of yards now. I try not to be impatient with her, but sometimes it slips out of me, and I’ll speak sharply to her. All my anger does is confuse her and I really need to stop doing that.
And now the cardiologists are suggesting a heart pump sometime after January. He says it will really help with the reduced pumping capacity of my heart. I am mixed about this, and if Snookums hadn’t had a stroke, I would have just said enough. But now I need to be around for a bit longer because … well … I need to be around. When I meet again later this month with him, I think I’ll tell him to start the process. It isn’t as invasive as open-heart surgery, apparently they do it with through a small incision, and the recovery doesn’t require a hospital stay.
… and one day follows another in my little corner of paradise.