I saw an advertisement on the back of a New Yorker for the Shaw Festival. It happens through summer into the fall, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario. I remember my father telling me about trips to see the Shaw Festival. I think-- oh, he can do that now! He can travel and do what he wants, now that he has a new kidney!
|view from my parent's window|
When I went to visit with him a week ago, I had some pretty specific goals for the visit. One was to go for a run. This might seem a small thing, but the run I grabbed in the middle of a snowstorm, with big fat flakes settling on my shoulders, was the most grounding act I could do, in the tumult of family and planning and not enough timeness. It was glorious, and much needed.
Another was to advocate for my father to go to Alaska. When I spoke with him on the phone, after the first real round of good news about the acceptance of his kidney and the health he was looking at in the face, he said he wanted to go to Alaska. I took him at his word, and felt it was my job to advocate and imagine Alaska with him.
When I got to my parent's place-- a wonderful winter rental on Mystic Lake, with views in every room (even the bathrooms) of a half frozen lake, birds, and trees-- where they have been in recovery and relative isolation, it became readily apparent that talking about the future was not part of the plan. When I tried to bring it up, my father gently corrected me-- The only way I've been able to get through this is by focusing on the now, practicing mindfulness. And he proceeded to show me the books, mugs, cards, he had made with his years of photography, and his recent bird photographs he has taken out the myriad windows. He has filled up his world with a now that is simple and beautiful. He is warm cheeked and vibrant, humming with a gifted life. He is handling this responsibility very well indeed.
This is no small thing for my father. In his 70s, and he is not fully retired from a life of service and work as a psychiatrist that has taken him very far away from any now that includes his care, his art. Although he had seriously transitioned to part-time work before the transplant, I wonder what it will look like for him to return after this giant shift in his awareness.
As I watched my father, the day stretching out with a meal, and then a brunch the next morning, I saw him perching on the edges of things-- chairs, walls-- watching, beaming out from behind his mask that he wears to protect from sickness, just being in a very good way. I left the weekend with a sense of ease and comfort that this change, this now, is the one that is needful and right.
Today I went with my son to a Waldorf playgroup. It was sparsely attended, maybe because the temperature was -4 when we arrived, and 9 when we left two hours later. This day I was able to see the joyful life I am nurturing in his play and imaginings, and see the loving friendship of this small band of women and children. It was a gift-- a gift from my father. This now. This one.