Selected Shorts

13 November 2018:

I woke, one rather recent morning, with a few pains, the likes of which we grow accustomed to as the digits in our age increase. Thought nothing of them and went on about the business of the day, stacking the cords of fire-wood, delivered for the coming months of Northern Winter, bringing enough into the kitchen to keep the little wood-stove burning to ward-off the chill as it tried to make its way into the house.

Next came the late-Autumn chores of attending the lawn and fallen leaves, and preparing the vegetable garden for the snows that we all knew were leering at us from the tops of the mountains, not so very far off in the distance. They, the snows, were up there, we could see them, like a light, white dust on the peaks, and we could smell them in the breezes that blew down and around us, as the winds shifted from the South and were now coming at us from the North. It's always been that way: there's that one night when, almost rather suddenly, the temperatures drop, bringing a crispness, and as the day breaks, the light is a bit "different"... because it's being reflected off the frost, and from that point forward, for what we know is going to be the "longer season" of the North... Winter is just beyond an arm's reach.

But today, that day, there was something a bit different about the old discomforts. They were taking a bit of a toll. As if, from some-where deeper inside this old carriage we call "the body", some-thing was whispering a bit louder "Either you back off or there'll be a bit of Hell to pay today." I did what I've always done about such nonsense, I went on about the business of the necessities of the moment. Day-light hours were growing shorter but the list of things to accomplish were just as long as ever, if not a bit longer, and once that sun set o'er the Western horizon, well, it would mean waiting for about 12 hours before picking-up where I'd left off, and that wasn't a reasonable option. So, onward I moved along until...

It just got to the point where the reality of the situation came screeching at me, full-speed and with a vengeance! Today was different. This old thing, what-ever it is, demanded a slow-down and wasn't going to let ME decide whether or not to heed. Things, it seemed, began to swirl, round and round, move farther and farther away. Time began to almost grind to a complete halt and gravity felt stronger... as if the Earth was pulling me closer. Nope, I no longer had control of the situation, something stronger than I was dragging me along, and not in a direction I approved of. Oddly, for the first time in my years, I was forced to acquiesce. With what I knew were the last bastions of ability at the moment, I did what I've seldom done, ever, and I grabbed the keys to the truck and took me off to the local centre of "health advisors" (also known as the "hospital".)

That was some days ago. The charming folks at the Emergency were polite, courteous and duly attentive, ran, as it were, their "tests" and the likes and on my insistence, gave me my leave to return to the activities I'd only begun that morning and was far from completing. They gave me the formalities and pages of "sagely advice" with recommendations and referrals for "follow ups", and in the rain that had begun falling that evening, I returned to the scene of the "incident"... with a bit more knowledge of the predicament than I'd had when I departed.

When I arrived, the little ones (as I call the old dog and the new cat) were at the door to greet me as they always do. It was their dinner time, and I am their chef and server. It's primarily for them that I do what-ever it is I do in a day's span, and never even once have they ever expressed any dissatisfaction with any efforts I've exerted toward making their lives more comfortable. They're a joy, no doubt about that at all.

Well, the days have passed and in that period, I came to realise that indeed, the tasks at hand are many and important but there comes a time when other responsibilities... to self... deserve equal, if not a bit more attention. Trees grow old in the wood-lands and one day give, crashing to the ground. The flowers in the garden, beautiful to behold in the warm weeks of Summer, eventually succumb to the passing of time, change of season, and fade from brilliant reds and yellows, to dull browns, from bloom through stem to soil. Even the clock that ticks away the seconds, runs into minutes passing, hours, days, weeks, months, years until, one day it relinquishes its hold and the ticks stop, time on the piece cease to move... and then cease altogether.

On the 63rd anniversary date of my birth, I began a new adventure, one that I'd never given much thought of or to, if I'd ever given any at all.

A rather long time ago, I'd gone along and away from the comforts of familiarities of home-town, faces, voices and the likes, moved onto the place I'd dreamt of for many years. Coming to the North had long been my ambition, goal, dream really, and some time ago I arrived here, quite proud of myself and accomplishment to have reached the goal, manifested the dream. I'd done so alone, and had no regrets about that aspect of the journey. But now the realisation of the distance in space and time became clear, along with the realisation that "time" was almost incredibly much shorter than the distance between me and those who've meant a great deal to me over the course of my life-time. There remained one seriously major "chore" to be attended in the little time that was left, not only in the day, but in the greatest scheme of all earthly existence.

On that date of my 63rd, I began what I am currently in the process of attempting to complete. I'm calling it

*My Farewell Tour*.

There are many miles to be covered, many hours on many roads, travelling back in my own time, to see, to have and to hold those who have always held their places in my heart from as far back as I can or choose to remember. I'm not certain how much time I'll be granted to complete this task, but completion is impossible if commencement never begins. And so, now, with keys to the old truck in hand, I'm rolling out of the grass-covered drive and off, over the horizon, every day that makes it possible to do so.

My most precious moments, other than those when I can spend a bit of time with those who are my destination, are the time I'm given rolling through what is, to me, the most precious gift Nature has ever allowed me the privilege to enjoy over the course of my time on this planet: the New York Adirondack mountains. They've always been my little gate-way to times and places I've cherished. Many years ago they were the gate-way to the North where I was always delighted to be, no matter how long or short the sojourn. These days, they serve the same but in the opposite direction. No, I dont' enjoy the Southerly travel, but I know that at the end of the half-day drives, I'll be re-united with cherishable folks, most likely for the last time in this existence. And so, still, the majesty and the awe of these ancient hills are a reminder and assurance of a peace to come... just as they were 20, 30 or more years ago.

Now, some say that this topic is morose, depressing, melancholy. How silly! Quite to the contrary, indeed! You see, some people are given no notice of when they're to be taken from Creation. As they toddle and tarry about, some are immediately struck-down, breath slammed out of their lungs, souls ripped from their bodies, in an instant, whether or not any of their chores, goals, ambitions have been completed. I've been treated rather fairly well, being given the opportunity to, as much as is humanly possible, sojourn, even briefly, with the most important "chore" of all we're yoked with from the moment of our conception: to see, hear, touch those who are parts of my soul, my spirit, to recount the stories of our life-times, to laugh, perhaps even to cry, but most importantly of all things across the vast, unknowable spanse of Creation, to have, to hold, to thank and to Love them... even if it becomes just one more time.

Once upon my time on Earth, there was that dread of "growing old", slowing down, becoming "feeble" (of mind and body). I wondered, from time-to-time, but never too seriously, what it must be like for, say, parents, grand-parents, to reach some period when they knew that their time remaining was almost countable. Sometimes I'd just ponder... sometimes I'd think and let it go... sometimes the reality that I would, one day, come to know the answer... to learn from direct experience, was a bit frightening. But now that I'm here, that the moment has arrived, that I'm surrounded by it always, I find it's actually quite a blessing. There's a great "peace" in being aware of the fact that when the world changes into something, some place I'm no longer comfortably familiar with, it'll all be of no matter, concern nor consequence to me.

They're "costly", these "Farewell Tours". Time, energy, money, the likes, quite costly, indeed. But then too, with all the other realities and realisations comes the one above where "costly" is concerned: Once the tour is done... even the money won't matter (just so long as it holds out until the "Tour" is complete). Meanwhile... it's time to roll along because, well... as my Mother of most blessed memory used to say:

I have miles to go before I sleep, miles to go... before I sleep.

(Special heart-felt thanks to @anouchkaya for the posting of the attached image which has obviously stolen my heart.)

Judah Kessler

Nov 13, 2018, 11:21:55 AM edited


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