Finding Hello in Good-bye

29 Dec

staircase to the unknownIn early November, an unexpected storm disrupted my life.  Perhaps I should have seen it coming, but I did not, in spite of a nagging feeling inside that something was amiss.  I pride myself on listening to myself, following innate instincts, and falling back on lessons learned from past experiences.  This time the message never made it to my brain, but churned restlessly in my gut as I struggled to connect dots.

My belief was that if I could identify the source of imbalance I felt inside, I would either be able to stay, or right, whatever fate waited for me on the steps of life’s door, or meet it head on, confidence in tact, and resolve, in a sensible way, any body blow it might deliver.

That philosophy proved both naïve and arrogant in lieu of the vulnerabilities of the human condition that evolve in dichotomy, the mind filling with wisdom as the body simultaneously empties with age.  So, when the thug-illness burst through the front door, like any unsuspecting soul, I absorbed its rage, and was swept away in the insane bureaucracy of doctors and hospitals and voodoo poisons conversely intended to heal.

HerbBottle (3)

Once home, huddled safely inside my upholstered cave, I began the process of understanding why I could never, try as I may, have anticipated the events that brought me to this uncomfortable introspective space.  But when the light bulb lit, and a band somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind began playing boisterous choruses of Halleluiah, I began to see the impotence and futility of trying to see into the future in order to avoid or manipulate its impact on the present.

As this new truth emerged, setting me free, so to speak, a new reality appeared, once again taking the wind from my sails as my sweet husband, Rich, the rock on which I have built my life, fell prey himself to an illness uniquely his own.  Thus the feeble bird tended the injured bird as, together, we tried to discern forests from trees.

old couple in love 1

The double whammy of fate proved itself a game changer as we struggled to meld growing physical limitations with solid but stubborn mental competence hell-bent on experiencing the Golden Years as portrayed by cell phone and miracle drug commercials on TV.

The irony of marketed possibilities in old age juxtaposed the actuality of incoming mail filled with term life insurance, funeral and burial policies clashed, rising to a crescendo until nothing would do but to address the 800 pound gorilla in our living room.  Thus began the shift in the landscape of our lives.  And I must say, neither took it very well, the idea of exchanging high adventure for a more sensible plan was like sucking lemons, but we pushed on, readying ourselves for the respite and sheer joy of a Christmas visit from a daughter, her husband and their son.

Two hours before their arrival, the power went out.  But it wasn’t as hard to adjust to the unexpected as it might have been the month before, because surviving last month’s challenge had empowered Rich and me to rise like phoenixes, rendering this latest variance in foreseen reality a virtual bleep on the radar screen.

candle burning

Nothing, absolutely nothing was going to dampen our enthusiasm for spending time with family.  Two hours into the visit, over dinner lit by emergency stash fluorescent lanterns, the power came on, and each of us jumped from our seats to embrace in full light.

Christmas was perfection, the best Rich and I have experienced since leaving Texas on our excellent adventure, causing us to ponder the desires and circumstances that led us far from the herd in the first place.  To be honest, the herd had fully dispersed before we broke from the land that held us and served as a constant reminder that even the best laid plans can go horribly awry.

During long, sweet conversations at Christmas, the subject of the recent illnesses that passed like a plague over our house arose, opening a door we never dreamed we might need to enter.  It seems the helplessness of crossing long miles on small budgets while meeting the needs of minor children and demanding work schedules had torn at the heart strings of our daughter and her husband as they were forced to watch from afar as Rich and I struggled to deal with devastating circumstances alone.

Last night Rich told me he and his brother never know how to say Good-bye when they talk on the phone.  I know how that feels. Endings are hard for me; beginnings, not so much.  So the only way I know how to approach change is to find a way to transform it into something I’ll want to embrace rather than ignore.

I’m quite ambivalent about getting old, part of me is so ready, and part is not.  The fact that we need help from others to manage the sharp edges of life is a bomb dropping for anyone, but for those unaccustomed to asking or accepting help, it is a concept nearly impossible to accede.

I have to remind myself that sometimes Plan B exceeds the expectation and reward of Plan A.  When our granddaughter, Morgan, graduates in another year and moves to Austin to get her Masters in Physics, more than likely Rich and I will be packing once again for Texas.

river hondo

The natural beauty of Arkansas will be hard to leave in spite of having made very few friends while being here.  In two weeks I turn 65; it would be nice to enjoy the Golden Years in the presence of family, making the most of each good day, and knowing we are not alone on less impressive days.

And so this nest that felt so right only months ago, suddenly feels a little tight around the hips, and we find ourselves contemplating unexpected plans to return, perhaps, for the last time, home.  Perchance this is how it always is, the evolution of parental roles, one generation passing the torch to the next in an act as necessary and natural as the changing of seasons.  But because we have an option, because we have a say in the matter, because both of our children have offered their homes to us, Rich and I count ourselves as two of the very lucky ones.

welcome to hondo


22 Responses to “Finding Hello in Good-bye”

  1. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist December 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Life can be so unexpected. I’m thinking of you and hope your move goes smoothly. It’ll be nice to be near your family. Lots of hugs.

    • ittymac December 29, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Thank you so much, Irene.

  2. Tracy December 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    This was so beautifully written. So many changes in your life…I am thinking of you and wishing you and your family all the best in your days ahead.

    • ittymac December 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Thanks Tracy, it will work itself out. I see Rich and myself sharing many active, happy years with family.

      • Tracy December 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

        I do too!!!!!

      • ittymac December 29, 2013 at 6:11 pm #


  3. billiebell1 December 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Family is the most important thing. Places are simply the background for the beauty of life. While some backgrounds are prettier than others, the most gorgeous sunset is not the same when taken in all alone. 🙂

  4. April December 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Very beautifully written. Seems like my family is in this type of a transition phase with my stubborn mom. Just going to have to trust that life will fall as it should. Take care.

    • ittymac December 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

      Rich and I appreciate the support our girls are offering. It’s getting harder and harder to make important health care decisions simply because there is such extreme pressure when one or the other of us is ill. We welcome loving input.

  5. wantonwordflirt December 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    You write of life’s difficulties in such a beautiful way. I find myself and my husband in similar circumstances this Christmas, I hope we find our way in 2014. Thank you for sharing your words, they inspire and comfort me.

    • ittymac December 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

      I am so happy to be of comfort and/or support. Eventually we acknowledge we are all in this together. Good luck to you and yours.

  6. Archita December 31, 2013 at 4:43 pm #

    As I always said , I love reading your posts. They feel so alive when I read and re-read and then I get lost in my thoughts . The year 2014 will be very beautiful for you , Itty. I am wishing you and your family a happier , healthier and brighter New Year. 🙂

    • ittymac December 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Thank you so much for the kind words and the blessing for the new year.

  7. Claudia Anderson December 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    Itty…your writing always hits me in my soul. It’s like you speak my thoughts, yet so much more eloquently and intensely. These dark days bring out the best (and worst) of all of us. We try and be strong for everyone else, leaving little for ourselves. So we do cling to the rocks around us. There is nothing wrong with that. It is terrifying to think that rocks don’t last forever either, but who cares, when we love and need now? You and your sweet heart will make it through all of this. The sun IS coming back, and so will your health and your dreams. Love you.

    • ittymac December 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      You see me so clearly. Love you.

  8. hugmamma January 24, 2014 at 1:03 am #

    God bless you and your husband as you make this change. As my husband prepares to retire in a couple of years, my thoughts are constantly toing and froing over what’s best for us as we move forward. Good health is key to quality of life. Trying to wrestle with that on a daily basis is fatiguing at best, debilitating at worst. I pray you have better days ahead…

    • ittymac January 24, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      Good health is a major concern for us all. Finally being able to retire has brought tremendous balance to our emotional life, even as the passing years chip away at physical stamina. We’re very lucky; we’re happy and still in love. All these assets will help with the growing challenges of aging. Thank you for your prsyer.

      • hugmamma January 24, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        Happy and in love…treasured gifts as you go forward in your golden years…

      • ittymac January 24, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

        Indeed. 😊

  9. livingwithshadows February 19, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    I both felt your vulnerability and your strength here. it is difficult enough to be hit with one major health issue but to deal with both shocks to the system at the same time would be traumatic indeed. I hope you are both recovering. these things definately make us appreciate time with our famillies more deeply and re-evaluate where we are in our lives. sometimes we find the best silver linings in the hard times. my best wishes

    • ittymac February 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      I wish things were getting better over here but they’re not. These are difficult times for many around the world. Rick and I are in the midst of some serious health issues and we’ll just keep doing the best we can do. I know you’re not well yourself. Please take care. The quality of your life is of utmost importance. itty

      • livingwithshadows February 26, 2014 at 11:37 am #

        you know my very best wishes go out to you both. having read your post about both of your health issues i am stunned at what you are both facing but i am so heartened by your strength still showing and your love for each other. The care you have for each other will in itself be a medication to help you both through.

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