Recently, I was bitten (in the middle of the night) with the flu bug. That really nasty one which turns every part of your world flipping upside down. Chilled like December yet sweating as if I had just worked out. Oh but I did.
Influenza…here it comes. Tis the season I guess. I didn’t get a flu shot. Last month I was at the drug store and the offer was made to me. Nope, no time for that I said. My life is too busy and I thought I could outrun any flu that tried to catch up with me.
I recall my own past medical battles and once again recognize how much I take for granted on a daily basis when I am feeling well. The best thing about being ill with the flu…well initially I would have to say it is when I finally realize I am winning the battle. When I can stand up and my legs don’t feel like cement, my stomach no longer twisted in knots and the vice is gone from my head. I marvel at the ability to overcome. The shower is more relaxing and I could stand under it for hours. The air is lighter and there is a certain peace in being alive. Oh the back aches, I move a little slower for a day but I appreciate more.
Why do we try to forget those rough bumps in the road? They would serve us well to remember them…so we can relish the mundane moments more and applaud the simple parts of our life. Yet as we write down our todays and our wishes for tomorrow we smudge the print where yesterday was written. Blurring the memories of those tough times, holding them away instead of embracing them. But they make the good times better and the precious times more dear. I guess the best thing about the flu is it serves me with a brief clarity of my life. I only wish I would live in the present all of the time. Ah..I know, in a week or so, I will again be caught up in smudging these memories as I write new ones. Once again simply forgetting that it is in affirming our past that we can truly live in the present and do so with gratitude.
Oh this most unwelcome visitor in the middle of the night. Why does he usually stop to chat after I have had a couple of hours of sleep. Rudely rousing me with his incessant noise of silence shouting his presence. I sigh…we must visit for a few before I can politely request his leaving. He will have it no other way, this uninvited guest.
These are some troubling times. When I awaken from my dreams and find myself in the company of insomnia. Quiet moments when the rest of the world appears to be resting and relaxed. Quiet moments when my head is anything but. Instead I am filled with thoughts of tasks undone, undue concerns for those I love and endless questions about tomorrows not yet here.
Some nights we travel to my past. We leisurely walk through the house I grew up in, play cards with my grandmother at the kitchen table or talk with my mother. I marvel at the simple times of my growing up years and lie in my bed contemplating how life has come to be. At least in these moments I don’t mind his presence so much. He lets me wander freely amongst my memories without much interruption yet these times are far and few between.
Most times we talk of deep, heady issues full of worry and contemplation. I don’t know why insomnia insists on me solving lifelong issues and complex theories in a matter of hours. He knows time and again I do not claim victory yet his visits demand me to try. As I ready myself for sleep tonight I whisper some thoughts his way. Do not knock on my door in midst of the midnight hours. Do not disrupt my silly dreams to tarry in my mind in the darkness. Tonight you are most unwelcome here…tonight I wish to sleep.
Memories are like rivers, sometimes rushing by us and sometimes still, reflective pools. They remind us of yesterday’s joy, moments we took for granted like the daily rising of the sun. Times that have filled our hearts with pure pleasure and made us giddy. Every day we have reminders of this carefree past- some flow through us with revelry as we listen to a remembered song. We smile, sing along and recall the jaunty times we’ve known. Maybe an old friend not seen in years. Maybe photos taken in the midst of sheer happiness. We need to relish these snaps and snippets of life past. They will carry us through tough times.
Yet there are also reminders of days not so carefree. Those reflective, deep pools of yesterday that still our souls, those too we must remember. Those memories of pain and difficult times we thought would last forever and a day. They are profound and very deep. Something or someone reminds us of our past pains-like loss of love and loved ones and loneliness. These recollections seep into our heart, stirring our tears and causing us fear of repeating the pain as we remember it. The times of melancholy and remorse remembered. As hard as those memories are to call forward, they must be respected and held in reverence as we learn from them. They show us that we can and do survive the tribulations of our past.
Memories provide a provocative window to yesterday. We glance through and witness good times once again. But memories also reveal the despair and anguish of our past. Both are significant as we look to the future. We need to embrace all memories as friends leading us to better tomorrows.
I heard the thunder rolling in today and along with it came memories of my childhood. Wonderful memories of sitting on my parents’ covered front porch watching the skies with my father. It was a ritual of ours. Sitting out there daring the rain to blow upon us, knowing it rarely did so. We would talk of weather and science and how things worked. Knowledge that my father passed along freely and with passion. If the weather got worse my mother hovered near the basement, with an intermittent yell for us to come inside. But we sat there and watched the world around us- and we talked. It was in those moments that I knew I could ask anything and my father would not hesitate to try his best to explain even the most complicated answer to me. He was a born teacher. A good teacher. A fantastic teacher.
Throughout my life whether rain or shine, my father has been there ready to help. Teaching was not only his profession but part of his being. He has taught me to be kind to others, lend a helping hand to those in need, to value morals, and to be always open to learning. He is a quiet man, never jumping to reach the spotlight but content to be himself. Being always inquisitive he has instilled that in me as well.
It has been so long ago since we sat there on the porch. But it seems like yesterday. I miss those rainy days and I will ever hold them dear. Time has moved on, I am much older- working on the second half of a century. My father will be eighty-three this year. My mother has passed on, no longer eyeing the storms with worry and anxiety. No longer calling us inside. But when I close my eyes I swear it was just yesterday, out on the porch watching the rain, asking questions – and learning.
My yesterday memories include bike riding with my friends. I had a beautiful blue-green bike with a white wicker basket. My bike became my pony as we galloped around the neighborhood. Not long ago I bought a new bike. I do not gallop anymore…and I have noticed hills have sprung up everywhere. From bike riding I remember getting a little older and riding around in our cars. Guess this was my first introduction to the adult sitting syndrome. Oh the days of cruising. During these yesterdays of my life I recall groups of us in various cars with CB radios and our radio handles. Mine was “blue eyes.” Makes me laugh to think about how we used CB’s . They were our technology of the times- our link to each other, our face book and email of the day. And you didn’t cruise without a dollar in your pocket- for gas.
My college years seemed to blend together. There were so many life choices to make and it was stressful. Drugs were available everywhere and I just was not comfortable with giving up control of my brain to pills. I survived and I married and had children. As a young mother I began to look forward to my tomorrows too much and less of my yesterdays. Now my kids have grown and here I am. Pondering about all of those days that I could not wait to end in darkness and slumber. (Young working mothers know that sleep is the only escape and I strived to get there successfully at the end of the day.)
I have had many twists and turns during my yesterdays. But I have learned from them. I no longer am afraid of the bends as I approach them. I have remarried and he is my best friend. Someone that I used to pass in my neighborhood of long ago yesterdays of my childhood. We laugh about growing up so close to each other yet only discovering “us” some eleven years ago.
Which brings me up to the proper yesterday, recent past by definition. Filled with promise, hope and sweat. Illnesses, injuries have sought us out and death as well. And I cling to my most recent yesterdays knowing that I never know when they too shall become fond memories of my past. I relish them as I do my time simply sitting. I have learned that this adult behavior is not lazy at all. It is simply sublime as it give me pause to recall my yesterdays.
Recently I spent some time with family…some of my mother’s siblings, my dad, and others. We sat around a table and talked of things long ago and I could feel us all silently dreaming of yesterday. Yesterday when my mom was alive and the life of the party. She was one who could stir a quiet room into laughter. The kind where your breath is sucked away and tears stream down your face. We miss that and I suspect we each quietly told her so at that table. But we did laugh last night as family. All getting older and the topic gravitating to our health. We laughed about our aches and pains and we laughed about our forgetfulness from day to day. I guess you could say we laughed about life. Everyone needs to laugh about life once in a while. So thank you family for a couple hours of memories. Memories that are always swimming around in my head waiting for moments to dance. Last night they danced a bit and Mom smiled. Always remember it is those little bits of moments that count the most.