Saturday, April 19, 2014

That was the year that was.

Those of my vintage remember a tv show in the 60s called, That Was the Week that Was.  David Frost was one of the regulars. It was a humorous review of the news of the week. When WINS in New York-- a radio station that had been rock and roll--went to an all news format, the television program spoofed the transition.  They suggested that a report on new tax policy at the IRS might be introduced on WINS as "I Want to Withhold Your Hand." Stuff like that.

For me and my immediate kinfolk, this has been the year that was.  I was very fortunate to have had my folks for nearly ninety years.  They were ethical people who loved me and defaulted to doing the right thing modeling that behavior for my brother and me.

A year ago today, right about now in the evening, my mother shouted something to my dad while he was in the bedroom. He came to find my mother slumped in the kitchen. She had had a stroke.  I'd spoken to her just four days earlier and had had a good conversation.  That would be the last normal conversation we would have. After the stroke, she occasionally would recognize me, but the words came slowly. And occasionally I would ask her who I was and she would shrug an apologetic, "I don't know."

She died six weeks after the stroke and my father never recovered. During the time my mom was in rehab, dad neglected his own health and once she died, he was not the same guy emotionally or physically.  He'd become irascible during his visits to the doctor and no news, no matter how uplifting, could bring him out of the depression of losing his sweetheart.   He passed nine months after she, and anyone who had spent time around him during the time after she had passed, knew that it was inevitable that he would soon be joining her.

So a year ago today I went to sleep with two parents who both had all their marbles, mobility, and sense of humor.  Then around 6 a.m. dad called to tell me the news of the stroke.  (Characteristically for him, waiting until 6 so as not to disturb me during the night).  In less than 11 months, I've buried them both.

I have my moments of sadness--I lost two very loving people--but as I mentioned I was fortunate to have had them for a lot longer than most of my contemporaries.  The take-away for me is simply that things change.  And if you don't take advantage of the time you have, you are foolish.

 Andrew Marvel's great poem, To His Coy Mistress, is a poem of seduction, but one line can be extracted from it, that is--metaphorically at least--very apt.  The line: "The grave's a fine and private place. But none I think do there embrace."

Time to embrace good food, good company, nature, the Red Sox, those you love.

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