Life is settling into a new everyday normal. Don has been home from Beijing a week now, so life is good on the home-front. Meanwhile, when I saw Dad on Tuesday at his new home away from home — a rehab center in Seminole — he seemed to be settling a little more into his old self, in spirit if not in body.
I know from experience that Dad’s condition is a day-by-day thing. One day he seems to be on the rebound. Two days later he’s in the ER, surrounded by his daughters and a sister-in-law. Daddy’s condition teaches me that a good Tuesday is not a sign of a good Thursday or even a string of good days, but only ‘what is’ — that he is having a good day on Tuesday.
Even now, my Father teaches me. And I am thankful for ‘what is’, rather than thankful for what I hope will be–a string of better days ahead for Daddy. Being anchored in the present with a grateful heart keeps me from fearing what I cannot control, what one day will be, what one day will come unexpectedly too soon, which keeps at bay the worry and fear of what may be hiding around the next corner — or Thursday.
Today is Thursday. And the last four Thursdays in Daddy’s life have been anything but settling. Two ER visits, one almost ER visit that lessened into an unscheduled Friday doctor’s appointment and then, last week, making arrangements for Daddy’s rehab stay. By any rights, I should fear seeing the face of another Thursday, as they’ve brought nothing but bad news of late. But instead, I choose hope rather than fear. And instead of anxiety, it is peace that settles in all around me, like some warm soft blanket, fresh from the dryer on a cool Thursday night in June.
Living in the present moment creates an open spirit, a heightened awareness to see and receive unexpected gifts that would be easy to miss were I preoccupied with worry. Last Sunday for instance, my family gathered in Norman for May’s movable feast, for some of Kyle’s favorite fast-food chicken, which is served up by Raising Cain’s. The strength of numbers from the after-church crowd caused us not to settle into our choice large table for too long, but rather than adjourning to go our separate ways, we vacated to spend time in a nearby park and then decided to go see the new Pixar movie “UP”.
I knew nothing about the movie when I signed ‘up’ to go. And as I settled into my chair and into the latest installment of Disney — that offers something to children of all ages — I saw that the hero of the film looked a little like my Daddy: A lonely widower, who was something of a dreamy introvert, who was misunderstood and under-appreciated by the world, who was being forced, against his will, to give up his treasured home for a new life in a nursing home. To see how all these elements that sound so down can become the source of moving ‘Up’ is better seen than explained. And it is worth seeing. I left the movie feeling up. And with the feeling that it’s best not to become too settled, but to be open to whichever way the wind blows us. And to hold everything and everyone in this world lightly, whether a treasured house packed full of memories or a treasured best-in-the-world Daddy. Because, as Robert Browning wrote, all those years ago, the best is yet to be.
“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
Robert Browing, from Rabbi Ben Ezra