I had sushi with a friend last evening and listened to her travails in dealing with her irrascible, ninety-year-old failing father who lives 1800 miles away. The father who, on oxygen and refusing to move to an assisted living facility, insisted on driving twice-weekly to the senior citizen center to play poker. When my friend's brother quietly confiscated the car and locked it up, the dad called the police on him. Three times. And then tried to convince his home-care-giver to drive him to his son's house, break the lock on the garage, and get the car back.
There is a blessing in timely death, I suppose. My own father died an untimely death at age 46, and god only knows the kind of elderly man he would be. In my few short years with him, we were very close -- we fished and gardened together -- but after so many years, in some respects he's like a fondly remembered character from a novel that someone read to me in my early years, from the past of the previous century, mythologized ever more with each fleeting year. There's a bittersweet blessing in these preserved memories, absent of the trials of the teen years, and of what would inevitably be his own declining vitality had he lasted longer than four+ decades. I look at my sons, also facing adulthood with their own abbreviated version of a father -- gone seven years now -- and wonder which glimpses of him they'll carry with them on their own roads into the future.
But enough of that. The painters have arrived, weighted with spattered drop-cloths; paintings are stacked out of their way. Paul is just back from a trip to the vet with one of the cats who has a giant swollen mass on her abdomen, which turns out to be a bruise. I cooked him up a plate of bacon and eggs, and there's a moment of quiet peace in the house before I launch myself into traffic and another day of shuffling glass vessels from paintbrush to packing box.