Yesterday was Labor Day the last official summer holiday and 3 day weekend at least for awhile. Like most of America, I had the day off. It’s hard to believe it’s September already. It feels like only weeks ago we were ushering in the new year. 2012 is speeding by at an alarming rate and with each passing moment we find ourselves drawing closer and closer to the end of our journey. That sounds a lot like doom and gloom huh? But it’s the way I was feeling .
As I worked in my man cave yesterday putting together my new toy, a heavy duty, yard cart, I found myself thinking about life or more precisely the passage of life, not only my own, but that of my wife, my father, family and friends. Try as I might I couldn’t shake the whole time is drawing short trip, and the music I was listening to wasn’t helping much. I had my Ipod set to select songs in random order and though not every tune dealt with time or the passage there of, several did. There was ‘Time Has Come Today’ by the Chambers Brothers, ‘Time is on my Side’ by the Rolling Stones, ‘Time, ‘ by Alan Parsons, Steve Miller’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’ with that opening line “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future..” the Beatles ‘In My Life’ and so many many others that make reference to the passage of time. Isn’t it strange that when you have something on your mind certain songs you hear or their lyrics seem to be so relevant to what you’re thinking about? It happens all the time. Coincidence? Sometimes I wonder.
However there was one line that really stuck to me. It was from the Animals ‘House of the Rising Sun’. “I’ve got one foot on the platform, and one foot on the train.” From there it goes on to say that he going to prison in New Orleans to wear a ball and chain. But taken completely out of context I found the line to be quite haunting. I mean isn’t that the condition we eventually find ourselves. When we were young we were no where near the station much less the train. Then as we put on the years we move closer and closer until we are in the station, soon we are standing on the platform.
As more time passes we have one foot on the platform and one foot on the train, praying that the Sante Fe doesn’t pull out too soon, but inevitably we’ll be on board the train of life waiting for it depart to the end of the line. And like Tom Petty sang, “the waiting is the hardest part.” I know, I know crazy thought huh? but I was feeling it.
Later I was pulling weeds in the backyard, and even with no music those damn time thoughts started eating away at me again. I kept thinking about being long passed the middle of life and much closer to its end. I kept trying to figure out my melancholia and came to the conclusion that a number of things were the cause of my condition. The first being the funeral I attended last week. I’m sure that awakened some of these feelings. I had also just returned from San Diego the day before and been to my wife’s 40 year reunion picnic. Part of my mind, time trip could be a result of that. Although the whole beach barbecue had been a very positive experience perhaps the whole idea of forty years passing played with my mind a bit and I just didn’t realize it.
I also believe a bit of my present melancholia is the result of what two of my compadres are going through. Both are dealing with aging parents and health issues. One is dealing with his mother who was hospitalized for over a week and currently staying with them as she mends. The other is dealing with his 86 year old father who was hospitalized because of a possible stroke and will probably be in kindred care for awhile and may need additional care even after he returns home. I feel for my compadres. I feel their pain. We too have had issues with my 88 year old dad, falls, hospitalization, home care, it isn’t easy. It never is.
And there in lies the biggest reason for my present train of thought, my father. Having him live with us isn’t easy.Oh he isn’t a complainer and he doesn’t yell or scream at us, in fact he is quite a pleasant person. What’s tough is watching age take it’s toll on him, seeing him reduced to a mere shadow of his former self, reliant on his walker to get around, dependent on others to care for him and see that his needs are met. It’s difficult seeing my dad in his present state and believing he’s the same tough little truck driving man who used to roll up his shirt shelves to show off those big guns of his, the man who used to scare the crap out of my friends when they saw him walking their way.
I see him sitting there in his recliner watching old westerns on TV, he seems content enough, but I wonder, I wonder what is really going on in that mind of his. It seems like he is just waiting, for what, I’m not sure. Perhaps he’s just waiting for God to call him home, I don’t know. And he never wants to go anywhere. As I said last week I was really surprised that he went to the funeral. It’s tough watching how slowly he moves and I often wonder how much pain he is really in, how much he doesn’t tell us about. This is the same man who for decades effortlessly jumped up and down from his Peterbuilt and tossed heavy coils of rope or chain over tall loads of lumber to tie them down, then once on the job site he would single-handedly roll the load off the truck using only a long pry bar and his bare hands. So many time I watched him slip that bar into the end of one of the rollers the load sat on and pull and tug sometimes hanging from the bar until he got the load to move. It was a long slow process inching the load off the end of the truck and he did it several times a day, five days a week. Now nothing he does is effortless, it’s mostly painful.
Yes all of these things definitely played a part in the little time trip I was on yesterday. My approaching 61st birthday probably played a part as well. Life is fleeting my friends. Enjoy it while you’re able. Take it a day at a time and make the most of each and every day we are of graced with. Taking care of our aged parents is also a part of our lives, it is our responsibility. They cared for us and help us become who we are today. We will care for my dad as needed, just as my compadres will care for their parents, without anger or resentment, but with love. And someday, if God sees fit to grant us a long life, we will be where they are now and our children or perhaps only one of our children will care for us, after all, they learn best by example.
Just a Thought…