I’m not sure how many of you are doing your reading on a Kindle but 90% of my reading these days takes place on a reader. It’s usually my Kindle Paper White but sometimes, when reading a magazine or newspaper I’ll read on my Kindle Fire or my I Pad. At any rate you get my drift. Even though I love books, their touch and smell, I still do most of my reading on a digital reader. Today, however, I was reading a regular book. To say I was into it I guess would be an understatement. Let’s just say I was very interested in what I was reading. When it came time to turn the page I did something that was second nature to me. I extended my index finger and poked the page. When nothing happened I was jolted out of my read and realized I was not on a reader. I’m just glad no one was watching.
It’s not like I forgot how to turn a regular page but my muscle memory took over and attempted the poke. I’ll let you know if I have any other problems reading a regular book. I hope not. J
It seems as though I’ve found my way back to writing, I can’t explain why something like the death of my father and my mother’s dementia could hit me so hard as to knock the writing out of me. When I was younger and would run across any type of heartache a man might encounter it always seemed to pull the stopper out of whatever that place is where writing comes from. I could write anything I set my mind to. It was as though the adversity fueled my writing. This time however, it was different. At first I didn’t even think about writing. It was as though writing had never been a part of my life. After that phase I moved to the point where I would stare at a blank page for hours and find nothing I could write about. This includes my work in progress which I have fully outlined. Not being able to write when I had all the ideas and characters in front of me was crazy. Next I found myself putting words on the page rather clumsily and I might add painfully. Every word came only after much internal wrestling. A few days ago I sat down at the computer and actually wrote a complete scene. Don’t get me wrong, it will still be subject to a rewrite but I was actually in my story and knew what I wanted my characters to do.
Writing is a process that happens when a writer is in a zone, when he can get into his story and characters with little more than want. When that happens we can do those three and four thousand word hours. I’m looking forward to a time when I’ll be able to reach those goals but now I’ll settle for a completed scene or character write-up. Here’s hoping my next entry will be about writing a few thousand words in an hour. That would be sweet.
We sat in the dining room and watched as the large area slowly filled. The food was displayed down a long table in the center and the chef walked along the display with a critical eye making sure her food was displayed as she intended. My mom sat next to me and was visibly excited with this change of pace. I noticed her glancing at the next table over and I asked her what she was looking for.
“I think I know that man over there,” she said.
“Which one,” I asked.
She indicated a tall man who was eating with his family. Soon we were told we could approach the table full of food. It looked delicious and smelled even better. It wasn’t long until we were once again seated and began enjoying the wonderful food.
Again I noticed my mom looking at the next table and it appeared she was trying to get someone’s attention.After a while the tall man stood and approached our table.
“Do I know you?” he asked my mom.
“I think so but I’m not sure.”
“I know I’ve seen you somewhere before,” he said.
“It was at church,” my mom said excitedly. “You go to my church.”
“That’s it,” the man said. “I knew I’d seen you before but couldn’t place where.”
The conversation continued with pleasantries and the man soon went back to his table. The exchange wouldn’t look odd to an outsider. To those of us who knew it was a combination of comedy and pain. The meal was an Easter brunch at the assisted living facility my mother is now a part of. The man she had the conversation with lives in the same memory care unit she does. They see each other every day. I was reminded of the old joke about growing old and meeting new friends every day because you forget the old friends. If mom ever realized she lived down the hall from this man she never mentioned it or acted like it.
It’s been a couple of months now since mom entered the facility and she is doing well. She’s made friends, is exercising every day, and seems to enjoy every activity they do. As much as I wish it would stop, her memory seems to be slipping bit by bit like a slow-moving glacier. The place she’s in is expensive and we’ll keep her there as long as we can. If her memory continues to go I’m sure one day in the future she will live in her memory more than the here and now. I guess that will be a blessing because she’s been happy most of the time in her past. I can’t help but wonder what it’s like for her day after day. Then the thought bounces around in my head and I wonder, could this could someday be my existence. Will I one day shake my head and wonder at the strange surroundings only to fall back into my memory a moment later? To be lost only to suddenly find myself surrounded by the familiarity of my past could be unsettling or it could be comforting. I hope and pray this disease doesn’t catch me in its jaws but I can’t spend the remainder of my life worrying about it. Or can I?
Over the past several weeks my brother and I have been going to mom and dad’s house and wading through the past. In other words we’ve been sorting through stuff. There’s stuff we once held dear. There’s stuff our parents once held dear. There’s stuff we and our parents held dear. Then there’s stuff we’ve never seen.
In the category of stuff we once held dear I’ve found letters I wrote to my high school sweet heart who is now my wife. Though they would never win any prize for prose they were written with true, heartfelt emotion behind them. It’s really hard to believe we’ve survived as a couple since November 11th of 1970. That’s when I asked her to go steady with me. I realize that term is now outdated although it pretty much explains its self, I asked her to be exclusively my girl. We dated for five years starting when I was sixteen, if you’re doing the math that’s around forty-three years ago. I count myself lucky for finding my soul mate at such an early age. My brother and I also found pictures, poems, and yearbooks which fell into the category of things we hold dear.
The things we all held dear was mostly pictures and the stuff my parents held dear, well, that’s where my lesson started. We all hold things dear to our heart for reasons only we know. Once we’re gone so are the reasons. I felt so bad passing things to the garbage that mom or dad may have counted as something dear to them. My pile of things will be special to me and possibly my wife and that’s about it. A few of those things may be special to our children but only if they heard us talk about something or in some other way know why those items are extraordinary to us. By the time my grandchildren see the pile only one or two items will stand out as special and my great-grandchildren, well let’s face it, I’ll be lucky if they recognize me in pictures. In other words, all our possessions, even those that we count as extremely special, will one day be nothing more than so much junk that needs to be swept away so as to make room for another person’s special memories.
I hope I can keep this in mind as I grow older. If I can remember to allow my special items, my trinkets and memorabilia, to shrink in number along with the size of my world I’m sure my children will thank me in the long run. Suddenly those Monkees Trading Cards don’t seem that important but I’m not so sure I can give up my vintage Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. For those of you who think I misspelled Monkees I’m talking about the band circa late 1960′s and yes, this is the first time I’ve admitted in public I collected Monkees trading cards.