Home, Sweet Home

Oh, what I would give to have the energy of my friend and neighbor across the street. He’s 71 years old and rises at some ridiculous hour and works until he wants breakfast at which time he goes in and either takes it from his wife, my age, or fixes it himself. Then he works some more.

Later in the morning, Felipe goes into his garage “office” and works a little more, but it’s in the shade and at his own leisure. Then, during the heat of the day, he takes a nap in the cool of his basement bedroom. Everything seems to be at his leisure. By late afternoon, he is up again, working outside, spraying his plants or cleaning the sidewalks. By six PM he is sitting with family outside, laughing, telling jokes, observing passerbys, partaking in the women folk playing with the grandchildren. All I can say is “Amen”.

I should have known there was some stipulation on my life. I should have known that there was a price for being a loner, being a drifter of sorts, free from the price of pain—you refuse to become involved and the price is you fall with the lightest of challenges. I go to AZ and Colorado to see how people are doing, to be of relative comfort to them and I realize what I offer is nominal. It’s not like you are there with them for any prolonged period of time. It’s a little scarey.

First I see my Mom and the days fly. I am sure she doesn’t remember my presence, that if anything, I am just a dream image and she said “hi” to me and visited with me, but then I am gone and it was really only a dream. Then I go to Judy Ann’s and hang out while I visit intermittently with cousin Gary. Again, is it just a dream for him or for me? Each day I see him it becomes more vague. Until by the time I say good by to him and Gary Bailey it’s not even real. I want to cry—tears are coming out of my eyes—but there is nothing I can do, short of hiding the truth from him, i.e. I can’t ease his pain one iota and I am not about to let him see me weeping for the loss between us!

Cousin Mike was the same thing. Mike and his wife Donna are like tortoises, wounded, limping around yet strangely, they are better off than me who looks superficially okay. It’s because they are married and POSITIVE! I’m not stupid, but rather only ignorant. Their youngest, John 33, lives in the basement—he’s made it a beautiful home down there—working on indian artifacts. I liked his work so much that I gave him the names of at least 25 friends and said make this for him or her…I don’t care what it costs (because I am thinking it will benefit him, his parents Mike and Donna, and my friends and family members will receive quality gifts). So I told Mike who is bound and determined to hike a 200 or 300 mile camino in a year from now to put me down for Portugal. I will meet with my female friend, Alexis, a year from now and who knows, maybe end up in Morocco. I don’t know how any of this will really happen, but as Francesca states “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue” (proverbs 18:21) so I will project this as a reality…and maybe it will happen.

And last, I go to my friend James Lysaght’s on the Western Slope. Is there any place as beautiful as the Western Slope in Colorado? Maybe not. Is there any place as expensive to live? Maybe not. If you have a half million dollars then you can afford to live there. Are Jim and Linda any happier for living there? I really don’t know. Maybe it is just one of those things where some days you are, and some days you’re not.

When I arrived, Jim’s wife, Linda, was with a friend in Las Vegas. She said she had to get away every once in awhile. I hope it wasn’t my presence that chased her off, but who knows. I don’t want to think to deeply on the matter. But she had told me Jim was suffering from MS. And so he was. I was shocked that he was as “crippled” as he was. He talks about a cure in the next couple of years, but being the single guy, I don’t have the optimism he has. What is it about married men, whether they are happy or not, that drives them to eternal optimism? My dad was the same way at at 70. I would ask him how he was faring on a given day and he would whisper back that he believes in science. I could only think, “wow! What faith!” Again, I am single.

So Linda fixed us an exquisite steak dinner Monday night and put a good look on things. I imagine Jim and I had the place looking pretty raw by the time she got home late Sunday night (and thought we were doing really well, hah!). I was glad I went to bed just before she got there. I cut my stay short a day early because I suspected my presence was a greater tax on her, being that she was already looking after Jim and I am a basic bum, sad to say, the least I could do was leave early.

I did enjoy my stay there, but Jim was really struggling despite his will. He’s got great energy, but he is also really hampered. It should be really interesting to see where he is at in a year. I hope they come up with the cure.

I left Tues. morning and drove hard and steady for two days straight to get back into good old Fresno. I stopped outside Las Vegas and paid $55 for a room and $30 for a huge prime rib dinner in an empty casino of 2000 rooms, but that’s Las Vegas. Kind of lonely, but as Sierran worded it, it’s just the place I chose to stay. To hell with it—-I wanted to treat myself so I did. It always feels good to be home (in the nick of time to make my doctor appointments and then head up to the East Bay Area Saturday).

Home, Sweet Home

A Pause at Death’s Door…

I left Cousin Mike’s this morning. It wasn’t fun nor easy but it was time I needed to move on. In fact I postponed things so long I needed to call my Dr’s office and make my case for pushing everything back one day. I have suspected it was all going to come to this but what can I say.

So today was leaving for the SL Valley no matter what. I told myself I was headed south and home to say my good bye, even if it were only for a night. I chatted on the phone with family and friends and passed as much time as I could knowing the final time was going to be spent in Gary’s room, bumping things down to the last few minutes letting Gary, i.e. Leaf, know that there was no more to say. I told him (and friend, Gary, coincidentally as in divine intervention who came along at the exact same momemt) that I would be back to see them them both off tomorrow at 9 AM tomorrow. I tell myself, over and over, just say good bye and move on, but there is something that is hard to do when I know it is the last time…ever…that we will see one another.

Yes, Cousin Gary has been omitted to the the “retirement home”, once and for all, but that is the last stop. He he 70, riddled with brain cancer, and is having a helluva time moving around, a far cry from a week or two ago when things were making a little sense. Now these aggressive tumors are just taking over and I can tell he just wants to get death over with. He still has his humor, but it is hard to understand him.

So tomorrow, I will pass through La Jara and say my good bye. Tonight I drove to Judy Ann’s across the SLV and thought to myself how peaceful and beautiful everything was, and how slow life seems to change. Manassa was having their big (quiet) Rodeo days and there were rides going on, food bbqing, people walking hand in hand, a new age, a new shift in people, but never a shift great enough to take notice. Every year, though not much changes, then all of a sudden, one generation is gone and another is walking the streets. Kinda crazy!

I saw all the greens of the mountain sides, the blues, the yellows, the blossoms and blooms. The colors were vibrant. How can anything be so beautiful yet so unchanging! I saw two groups of pronghorn picking, eating, moving along the in the creases and the mountainsides. A few bats of an eye back and God was looking dinosaurs if God was even different from a quiet knowing. Wow, nothing is as we ever perceive it is going to be!

A Pause at Death’s Door…

I Was Thinking…

I have been in the western Denver area for the past five days or so. My intention was to stay here about 4 or 5 days then depart but nothing is ever so easy. And by that I don’t mean my stay here has been anything but easy, but rather nothing rarely goes as smooth as I hope.

I have been wracked with an inner bow stirrings that has not left me sitting quite so high and mighty as I would have expected after nearly 2 ½ months of disabling memory and “paxil” issues that I thought should be enough to keep me off balance, questioning, doubtful, and without clear purpose that I began to think it wasn’t going to happen. Well, it finally started giving way and I began to reach out somewhat, hoping for the next adventure when the next challenge has crept into the theatre. All I can say is that this should be the new norm: not being able to get my feet under me.

I have come into rain spattered central Colorado thinking all would be fine, but upon leaving the San Luis Valley, things have only gotten worse. But not to fret. I KNOW it is temporary, and I will be okay, given a change of shift in weather or a reduction in elevation—-anything to shake me loose. But please don’t tell me to accept diarrhea, forget my memory, fall over asleep right after I am up and about, and roll over and go dead. I can’t. I may feel like it, but it is not right nor healthy.

So I am faking it. I am having my nephew, John, make gifts for me to pass on to my friends, both male and female. He is a natural and I can oversee what he does. He makes knives out of antlers, and arrows simulating the real thing, he makes moccasins out of moose, elk, mule deer, muskrat, coyote, and a number of other furs. He makes purses, hats, and wind chimes out of strips of leather, feathers, and thread. All his work is good, and I am thinking that most of his work would go appreciated because it is as close to authentic as it can get without actually having been used for such.

In the meantime, cousin Mike and I have talked about doing more than a 100 miles of hiking trail a year from now, in Spain and Portugal. It all sounds good. Mike has spent at least 3 weeks on the Camino in Spain already just a year ago so he does have an idea. Yes, under the circumstances, it all sounds a little fantastical but I am the first one to say you must have the idea before you can pursue it; you must have the seeds before they can grow. It’s a great option, so why not…short of death or seriousness illness.

I Was Thinking…

Thunder

I hear thunder. It rumbles. The blackbirds sing to one another but I can only speculate what their songs mean. And a cow calls out. What could it possibly be saying if not some simple message of “I am”. Other than this, all is silent.

I am thinking about Cousin Gary and wondering if all went well today. I tried calling him. I tried Gary Bailey and got no answer. I listen to more thunder rolling across the vega and over the gray and darkening mesita. It must be nice living in one of the Cabins some 9,000 up, quiet for lack of either effort to pick up a signal or the inability to get a signal so far from actual civilization.

I suspect making contact with Cousin Gary was not meant to be since I made some effort and hit dead ends with each attempt. But, tomorrow I will see him as I leave Judy Ann’s and I need to go by both the Garys’ to make sure all is okay before I get my boots and move on to Denver.

I have no regrets coming to Colorado. It was nice hearing from Gordon Olson today—checking up on me. He is as honest as the sky is blue and more often right than wrong. He inspires me to do what is right. It is good that there are those in our lives who are usually right or who we believe are usually right. We need those kind of people to be our guides or to at least inspire us to try and do what we believe is moral above an otherwise not-always-moral world. It’s funny how we all think we are right when in truth we’re probably doing very well to make ourselves exceptionally moral 50% of the time. And 10% of the time, we might not even be close—we just have some darn, stubborn need that we want met. Maybe that is what makes older people so genuine—they just don’t have the same desperate needs that must be met. I chuckle to myself because if we have got to give up our needs and our sneaky human ways it happens to be around the same time our personal desire is going to go as well. That IS the plus of Older Age.

Thunder

To Me an Angel

Maybe when we get to a point where we see all people as angels we have reached a special place. Maybe even the devil of our fears is nothing but the potential of what an angel must be. Maybe for us to see what God can be, we must see the angel in every devil! Wow, how wonderfully frightening! So if we think of the worst human being we have ever known, the worst human we have ever heard of, and we don’t tell ourselves, “this is okay”, but rather think we must forgive, then maybe we are beginning to understand.

In myself is the snot filled beast who wishes to rape, to murder, to be the most self centered being that has ever lived because I have had the freedom to go that path, but in the end, I can’t be these things because I have seen it all and it is not what I wish for myself, for my children, my neighbors, for anyone or anything…why? Because I know we have the power to be anything we wish to be and I wish the highest and the best for myself because that is what I want for my children, my neighbors, and anyone and everything that has ever existed on earth, in this wonderful universe to be…the highest and the best.

To Me an Angel

Time

I have nothing against time. If anything, maybe it is more about simply trying to understand it. To begin with, I think time is unique to everything that experiences it as such; something that all things with which we are familiar moves within. A life time for a fly is no different than a lifetime for human beings. And a lifetime for human beings is no different than a lifetime for a specie…or a mountain range…it’s all relative. I know it seems unimaginable that a fly and a mountain range “experience” time the same, but I think they do, in some odd way, as if both are conscious of time as something that moves and everything is just a factor in the relative perspective of it all.

I went out to the Rio this morning to shoot lizards (as in photographs). It’s basically still and empty out there as in the beginning of a canyon being formed. There is the old bridge that a car crosses every twenty minutes or so. The river flows like a continuum of cloud might move across the sky in large, steady volume. The swallows cruise the current of clear air, back and forth, playing tag, catching meals, flying like the flickering of broken light, but with some kind of conscious purpose. Lizards appear now and again, sporadically snatching a fly from a rock like that is all a fly is meant for. And then there is a lone human dressed in clothes, walking along, looking for an interesting subject to try and catch in image, something unique, something that stands out to the human eye.

The human looks at the formation of the canyon and realizes the canyon wall as in rock is beginning to crack and tip and fall like an old man’s tooth, like the mouth widening, deepening, changing in shape but it is happening so slowly compared to a single human lifetime, that it is scarcely noticeable. Does the canyon have a life of its own? How strange—it is moving and changing form just as the flowers growing up between the broken rock are, and the clouds in the sky except they are so slow as to not even be moving. How strange! Time is relative. What would be the slowest thing a human could even perceive? And then, is there something that does not even change, somewhere in the Universe? Do we call that thing “God”? And what would be the fastest? We talk about “light”, but again, is this just relative to humans and maybe there are things much faster than light. I ask myself if something is so fast that it is really timeless, that it occupies all places at once, as if standing still?

We humans are just a thing somewhere in between, consciousness that can think about these things. Is consciousness so vast and widely spread that humans don’t even know it exists except on the one planet where we live. It is our gift (or curse?!) depending on what perspective we wish to give it, and we can make it anything, because that is the nature of God: it is anything, it is wonderful, it is magic, it is without limit, good or bad, fast or slow and we are learning how to shape it because God has given us the invitation!

Time

Severely Misjudged

I left this morning for Jan’s out in Jaroso. Jan is another firecracker, a loner, one who has a system and works at home to keep it going. She is a mix of beliefs, energy, and lives her life with a silent confidence that most people will never discover. Originally she is from New York (City?) I believe, but she is all cowgirl, New Age, loner, and all Tea Party in that she can’t stand the way the government takes our money for tax purposes. She’s a great person to have working on your taxes for you and I must confess, both times the government has questioned my taxes, she’s told me what to say, and within days they have written back and said, basically, “oh, okay; sorry” (-: She weighs about 88 lbs and is so typical of most of my female friends: kindness, real opinions, independence, cock sure of what works for her, a little stick of dynamite packed tight and unafraid to express herself because we only have one life wrapped in a series of reincarnations. The other day I was counting 70 year olds that I knew instead of sheep that I didn’t know to help me get to sleep, and she was leading the way, i.e. of the New Mexico/Colorado contingency.

From Jaroso on the Colorado/N.M. state line I headed west and slightly north to pay my respects to Cousin Gary. I have to say I was somewhat shocked to see another of my 70 year old friends/family down for the count. I like to think of 70 as an attitude, but somehow I suspect that doesn’t always come first. Alexis of Santa Fe and now Portugal says it is an attitude, but I can’t help but think the four magical ingredients (diet, chromosomes, activity, and luck) does not invite attitude to join them. My personal belief is that it is easy to have attitude if all the other things are working right for you, but when one of the ingredients misfires, then it is much easier for attitude to miss a beat.

I hate to admit it, but I think I avoid friends and family because I have a fear they will need me and I don’t want to be needed. I am no caretaker and to prove it, don’t be my caretaker. I’ll show you I can die alone. I tell myself if it is my time then I can do it without company. Tell a couple of jokes, and let’s move on. But what happens if we linger?! And that is what the odds dictate. I look at Cousin Gary and I feel badly. They bring him all the way back from Pueblo and return him to his trailer, but he can’t take care of himself. It makes my heart bleed. Gary Bailey says give him a couple more days, see if he regains his strength. I say it ain’t gonna work. Now I have been wrong before, but the odds are not in favor of me being wrong this time—Cousin Gary is hurting.

When I first went over there I thought he and I could run an errand in Alamosa and then move on north to Crestone, and maybe visit Gordon Chu, then we could go to where the bats were up further north and Cousin Gary could relax and hang around the hot springs while we hiked to see the bats. After seeing Cousin Gary, I quickly concluded that wasn’t going to be happening. I severely misjudged.

I dropped my faithful hiking boots off at a shoe repair place then went to the local Hospice to see what they would think when they met Cousin Gary. Not Good. They had already gotten the word on him and they were the ones that are meeting with him tomorrow morning to see what they could do for him. Well, I am saying I will be there before they get there because they might not even be willing to go into his trailer even if it is only once a week to do meds and a little cleaning, which is ludicrous because you can’t clean a cave. Cousin Gary’s place is atrocious. I hesitate to say this out loud, but I wouldn’t let a pack of dogs stay in there since his first tell tale incident, that something was seriously wrong with his health—it’s just too much like a filthy dirty cave. The water is running in one faucet but the drain is not working. The floor looks like something cut out of a sawmill but it’s not nice wood chips laying on the floor. Gary is wearing a diaper! He can’t even get up to walk to the bathroom. He can’t get to the “kitchen” which is filthy. The refrigerator is packed with rotten food at least 3 or 4 weeks spoiled. A couple of times I found myself wanting to cry and now that I am getting off Paxil, it’s getting too easy. Wow! So now I have his neighbor checking on Cousin Gary every hour on the hour until dark and I’ll be there in the morning. Gary Bailey will be bringing dinner over at whatever time his family eats (bless his soul), but Cousin Gary can’t really move and the dirty dishes are everywhere. I can’t begin to do justice to what a mess Cousin Gary’s place is. It’s definitely worth a good cry!

I had to leave. I made sure Cousin Gary was comfortable, his neighbor whose name I regretfully can’t remember and don’t want to guess and miss, has been Cousin Gary’s friend for 20 years. It seems like the whole community (Mormon) looks after him, but they also know he is independent and it is time. They respect his will, but also don’t want to see him suffer unnecessarily. This is tough.

Severely Misjudged