Illness provides time for introspection
Last updated 1/23/2024 at 9:56am
The raindrops form tidy concentric circles in the puddles they are forming on the ice-crusted snow covering my back deck this morning. The branches above are coated with a thin layer of ice. Icicles long and short hang from gutters and deck rails. The sky is leaden gray. The outside world is painted in black and white and gray, with the only relief provided by the green of the sentinel ponderosas down on the creekbank.
The view out my bedroom window hasn’t changed a great deal over the six weeks I have been confined to my house with Strain A of the flu. This may be the longest I’ve ever been sick except for my bout of mononucleosis in college. My convalescence has provided plenty of time for me to reflect — on my life, the world, my sons, the past, present, and future, and what it all means.
One thing made abundantly clear is that I am extremely fortunate to have generous, caring friends who have brought me all varieties of homemade soups, casseroles, baked goodies, and entire dinners. They have run errands, picked up prescriptions, cleared snow from my front walk and driveway, driven me to appointments, and called on a regular basis to check on me, to see if I needed anything, and with offers of rides. I particularly appreciate their efforts as they are all within about six years on either side of my age and I’ll be 80 this year.
These six weeks have provided a possible microcosm of my final chapter. That includes a taste of being an invalid in need of assistance. A life lacking my usual interaction with the outside world, except for my television and the Internet. Fatigue and reduced energy. Periods of depression, particularly around the holidays. News of long-time friends who have died.
Just last week, I received word that my eldest brother Don had died. I am relieved for him as he is released from a body that has been cruel in its infirmities, pain, and discomfort. Watching my brother’s last years has only strengthened my resolve to elect death with dignity if the situation presents itself. Fortunately, I saw him in Portland right before I got sick, but I am sorry weather and illness precluded me from seeing him once more. Now there’s just me and my other brother, Berk, who share the common ground and memories of our growing up.
One thing that has definitely been strengthened is my resolve to get all my affairs in order, including writing my own obituary.
I’m not sure why our later life is referred to as “the golden years,” but I do know I intend to make the very best of the time I have left, whether it be measured in days, months, or years. I live in a special little town surrounded by magnificent scenery and filled with interesting, caring people. I am fortunate to be able to share my thoughts with you through my writing. And now that the flu bug has finally been vanquished, I am physically capable of caring for myself, and others. I can continue to create sweet memories and luxuriate in Mother Nature’s overflowing flora and fauna.
Thank you hardly begins to express my appreciation to all of you who offered physical and emotional support in my time of need. You know who you are and please know I carry you always in my heart.
As I put the finishing touches on this column, I notice the ice on the tree limbs is now simply drops of water. The icicles are shrinking and dripping as the temperature rises. The puddles have been absorbed into the snow. As with all things, change is inevitable. The blue skies, sunshine, and warm temperatures will return along with the new fawns and baby birds. With gratitude, I will welcome the change.