"Out of clutter, find Simplicity.
From discord, find Harmony.
In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity."
Dad hasn't gotten up yet.
He woke up an hour ago, downed a handful of pills with half a glass of juice, ate some banana bread, remarked that it could use a lot more nuts and a little more banana couldn't hurt it, had his nails trimmed, then went back to sleep.
Before closing his eyes he asked me to stay nearby. My first thought, was ugh. Of all the places to sit in this big old house the chair I'm in is perhaps the least comfortable. Yet here I am, in the middle of difficulty trying to find the opportunity. It occurs to me, if I really want to be a writer, then sitting in the quiet of this room, with my father's rhythmic breathing next to me, the dog's snoring behind me, the clock ticking off the minutes each sounding like a metronome guiding the beat of my heart, there is no better time or place to seize the opportunity to write.
I'm reminded of Zub's story about his art professor and the chair.
"Looking back on the class, it taught me as much about life as it did about art. So much of how we view the world is simply a matter of perspective. And when you realize within everything lies something worth seeing, the only true crime is not taking the time to notice it."*
So I sit here and look around the room. I feel like I know it by heart, yet if I had to could I find my way around in the dark?
For as long as I can remember a king sized bed, set into a corner dominated the room. Big, heavy pieces of furniture, a dresser and armoire painted green and made to look like they had been antiqued (a popular technique of the 60's) sat on either side of the door. They haven't moved (except when dad ran into them recently with his new power chair trying to maneuver his way through the door) since they were placed there 48 years ago. After mom died, dad got a hospital bed he move up or down with the touch of a button. Tables, and desks wrap around the far wall, making a convenient place for his stuff. From one end to the other there is very little open space. A battery charger, wadded up Kleenex, socks, a flashlight, checkbooks .... that kind of stuff. Turn the corner and you get to the computer desk, then the TV. In a quirky bit of I'll-make-it- work engineering a battalion of surge protectors and extension cords snake their way like the Mississippi River heading for the now oil-covered Gulf of Mexico to the opposite wall to the only two sockets he can use . Dad says the cords don't stick out enough to cause a stumbling hazard. I guess I can agree with that, because I usually trip over his wheelchair, bedside potty chair or this recliner I'm in, way before my toes could come in contact with a stray electric cord. The man who can barely stand up any more has yet to stumble or stub a toe. Go figure!
The room was painted a soft sea foamy green several years ago. Like most things in this house it could stand a good scrub and a fresh coat of paint. Though it's hard to tell because Dad has covered almost most every one of the walls with his own gallery of pictures and memorabilia. I wonder if he looks at the photos anymore or if they are just there, like the Kleenex and bamboo back scratcher taking up space.
As an aside, Sweetie mentioned last week that the pristine walls in our newly painted bedroom could use some pictures. I'm usually pretty good at covering the walls with mementos, but for some reason, I like seeing nothing but the fresh paint. Do you think clutter around one is indicative of a cluttered life? Sweetie, aka Felix, has taken to calling me Oscar as in Oscar Madison of the Odd Couple fame. I could take offense but I know he's right. This apple doesn't fall too far from her tree.
Dad has been up, eaten, read the paper and is now sleeping in the den. I think he could be living my dream life. I like to sleep, he tells anyone who will listen. I also like to sleep. But I think there must be a difference in sleeping because you like to steal a few moments (hours) in a cozy bed with a good book that acts like Sominex and sleeping all day because your body just doesn't have enough umphf to get up and moving.
Yesterday Dad was surrounded by a bevy of priests who prayed over him and anointed him with oil (he's had enough of this oil put on him lately so that he'd brown just like a Thanksgiving turkey if stuck in an oven set at the right temperature! Egads! Is that sacrilegious?) They continue to pray for his good health to be restored and for a long life. I used to get embarrassed when he told them that he'd lived long enough and that wasn't really what they should pray for.
But I stood in that circle, with my hands on his shoulders and I finally understood what he meant. My prayer is that the Beloved One in the Sky will bless him with courage to face what's coming, no pain, and not so many days that he ends up languishing in a room surrounded by pictures of the ones he once loved instead of being in Heaven with them.
Wishing for you eyes to see opportunity that surrounds you,
* From Zubin's self-written eulogy.