Don't worry; I'm still here; we've just been on the road and staying with friends, catching up on old times late into the night and over breakfast in the mornings. And driving. Lots of driving.
Which is not so bad; the trees are beginning to turn (although clearly the summer was a wet one; lots of the leaves are just turning brown and falling off, which is what they tend to do in wet years). For the most part it's hard to see that the colors are changing. But in parts of the state -- particularly at areas of higher elevation -- you can see some of the trees trying valiantly to blaze before their winter death.
I love that they're trying so hard: it makes me want to recite that wonderful Dylan Thomas poem to them:
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
... which has been one consistent theme of almost all our conversations -- with many different friends in many different communities: dealing with elderly parents and their frustration as their freedoms are gradually taken from them. Parents who resent not being able to drive, or who live in squalor because they fire the housekeeper and can't smell the gathering mildew; who leave the burners going on the stove, or clearly prefer some children over others, or who no longer even recognize their children, or repeat the same questions endlessly, or who throw things and swear if you stop listening and answering.
I never thought I'd be grateful my parents died so suddenly and so relatively young, but now I see first hand that I've been spared a lot of heartache. So this post is for all of you who struggle with these challenges -- and with siblings who refuse, for whatever reason, to participate in or contribute to the burden of care.
Yes, old age has a right to rage -- I'm already beginning to see people not much older than I am who wonder where their lives have gone and what they might have done differently. I pray, for my own children's sake, that I can have the grace and courage to accept that life is what it is; that it's not what it's not; and it's all good. Where we are is where we're meant to be -- for whatever reason -- and there are blessings in everything if we look hard enough.
Sometimes -- like the fall colors this year -- they're pretty hard to see.