I look into the face of my dear friend. In the hospital. (Apparently, it’s a recurring thing lately – these hospital visits.) He has aged. I have to admit when I look in the mirror – I have too. Dammit. And dammit that it took the alarm of the ICU to get me off my butt and by his side.
We share news of kids and grandkids (his) and great-grandkids (his again – yes I’m envious). Nearly four decades of communal history are in the room with us… like it all happened yesterday: crazy dangerous fun, laughter, pain, loss.
He says he doesn’t want to grow old. This scares me. So I ask him, “But if your quality of life is good, old is good, right?” I can’t bear losing him.
But I don’t think I’ll lose him any time soon. He’s a tough bird, “older than dirt” according to his estimations.
He’s side-stepped doctor recommendations for a good long while now, hence ICU and the once-again stay in the hospital. This time they’ll be keeping him for a while – in the pulmonary rehabilitation wing. The fun of youth catches up.
(Seriously!? Are we allotted just some quota of over-the-top living!?! I suppose there’s no rhyme or reason to the life and death cycle TIMING thing but it’s REALLY hard to not contemplate and wonder if there is some allowance-of-fun-score-keeping device that pulls the plug on us through death or discomfort.) Sigh… Enough ranting.
I wish you comfort, my friend.
And LOTS of old age that we can share together.
Last night my daughter, Rachel, three of her lifelong friends – Chris, Jesse, Mel – and I played dominoes and acted silly while drinking way too much… and then we drank more. I’m not sure we ever finished a single game, and if we did I have no idea who won.
Then we cried in memory of loved ones we’ve lost much earlier than death should have had the right to claim them.
It was one of those evenings that was relayed by my hippocampus into its forever and ever safe-storage in my cranium.
Rach and I crashed in the guest room, her bulldog Suri bedding down between my legs pinning me to the mattress. But who cares when you’re that inebriated?
At some point in the middle of the night, my body revolted and sent me to the porcelain throne, no doubt the only reason I was able to wobble into work this morning.
After washing my face and brushing my gnarly teeth and tongue, my incredible man made sweet love to me… completing this perfect memory.
The last thing I remember before the sandman visited was giggling and saying, “I guess I never grew up.”
Every once in a while we experience an event that is so fun, so fulfilling that the glow remains for days and the memories last for life.
I had one of those days last Saturday. I wasn’t the only one that experienced the ebullient well-being; in fact, I probably felt it least of the participants.
My son, Russell, and two of his buddies, Derek and Richie, raced in CMRA‘s Eight Hour Mini Endurance 250 cc Class motorcycle race at Eagle’s Canyon Raceway in Decatur, Texas. The three members of team Skidmark were all novices to racing, but they made a respectable first run at the sport.
Happenings that stick permanently in our memory banks are most often the ones that are earned with grit and usually some form of failure before we get it right; last Saturday was no exception.
Twenty-five minutes into Russell’s first run, my stomach left my body temporarily and did nauseating somersaults upon finding its way home. Russell laid the bike down and skidded across the pavement at 50 mph, shredding leather and leaving him adrenaline-drained. Later he explained, “The straight away before turn 9 is really rough and is a long bend left and then goes straight into a downhill double apex and there are no brake markers. I kept getting faster and braking later until finally my forks bottomed out and I low sided into the grass. It shook me up because it could have taken us out of the race. I didn’t get hurt at all, thankfully.”
I held my breath longer than any Guinness World Record holder to-date as Russell stood up and dusted himself and the bike off, got an OK from an on-track tech man and rode a couple more laps before he was forced into the pit to replace the shifter that was crippled in the fall.
When he got off the bike, he was too shaken to finish his run that should have stretched another twenty minutes. I struggled with my composure as I watched my tall, strong son wrestle with dread of his next relay run. I listened as he quietly vented of his big feet dragging and how hard it was to get them under the shifter after each corner, of how anytime he needed to adjust his center of balance the bike shimmied on the track; an uncomfortable feeling at best. Russell was so easy to spot on the track: taller and broader-of -shoulder than any racer in the field; a definite handicap in a 250 cc race.
Everyone at the track was supportive of each other; teams helping other teams even as they were competing against each other. I watched as Richie, Derek and Russell worked together; the warm reinforcement and team effort was palpable; Russell needed only to convince his psyche to support his physical efforts.
I had to leave before Russell started his next segment, but he kept me informed of the team’s progress.
He overcame his trepidation and contributed to the team as I knew he would. All three men, with their varied talents and abilities, created a stronger whole than the sum of the individuals: Russell with his intelligence and true humility in learning the art of a new sport; Richie, his stream-lined physique and gentle soul with some of the quickest lap times on the track; Derek, the natural-born mechanic – a tool has never felt so at-home as in his competent hands.
Derek, Russell and Richie completed 261 laps in eight hours at an average speed of 90 mph and came in at 18th place out of 32 teams.
We all help each other. It’s a great network; no one mandates it; no one collects dues. We do it because we care about each other, and we know and trust each other; know we can count on each other in times of need (and especially in fun times).
One morning, Loud Debbie (I’m Quiet Debi) mowed five yards ’cause she was pissed at someone or something – none of us remember why now. Oh yeah, and she had a cast on a broken foot – she’d fallen off a curb trying to rescue a crippled bird. (She didn’t mow my yard since I had mowed it the evening before – darnit). Continue reading →