On Moving On

Mom moving 4Today is moving day.

My Mom Pinkie Patti leaves her home of 40 years to go into another kind of “home.”

The kind you go to when you don’t know where youi’re going or what you’re doing anymore. And she doesn’t.

She won’t know when she opens her eyes this morning that it will be the last time she’ll cast them on the sunlight streaming through her bedroom window.

(Dawn is just about to break, the sky is streaked with pink and blue, and a light frost coats the trees and fallen leaves all around the house.)

She didn’t know yesterday it would be the last time she would enjoy breakfast in her kitchen, clean her countertops, or stare into the crackling flames in her fireplace. Soon these small joys will belong to someone else, someone who may never know how much each of them once meant to Patti.

She doesn’t know she won’t dance in the goldenrod in her field again, or swim naked with me in the lake or walk in the winter wonderland behind her house a Christmas.

Somehow the fact that she doesn’t know seems to make her imminent (within hours now) departure more tragic.

But none of us know when we’re going to leave the life we’re living. We may be snatched away at any moment, with no inkling the breath before was to be our last. It can happen at nine months, nine seasons or 99 years. 

To coin and combine two old cliches: that ignorance is bliss may be a blessing in disguise. Unlike me, who has cried a million tears, Pinkie Patti hasn’t spent the last minutes, hours, days and weeks mourning the loss of her life as she knows it. She has lived it.

And she hasn’t worried about saying goodbye to all that is familiar to her…

Goodbyes Are Sad Things

I’ve always hated goodbyes. I probably always will. My life circumstances have caused my to have to say more goodbyes than I ever thought possible; today’s is one of the most difficult. To help the healing process when I find myself leaving someone or some place I love, I often turn to a piece I found in a youth hostel guest book more than 33 years ago.

The melancholy, yet somehow also hopeful words touched my heart at the time, and I copied them into my diary, which travels with me to this day. All of this was long before blogs, through which millions now keep their diaries online (Like a Virgin?)

The passage goes like this:

mom moving 1Goodbyes are sad things. You leave behind dreams that you’ve worked to make real, friends that you’ve suffered to love and sometimes a quiet security that was built with half a lifetime.

On the road, and in life everywhere, you move along and you leave your efforts behind you in the dust, knowing deep inside that you will never find them exactly the same.

Often you spend too much time looking back and you miss something ahead. But there’s little use in trying to escape the loneliness and anxiety that go with you when you move on… for that is life and it is a certainty.

The road teaches you to accept goodbyes as part of saying hello to things that are new, different, and often better. It teaches that what was loved and learned in the past can never be lost, though we sometimes have to let it go.

On the road, and in life everywhere, you spend much time learning, wondering and yes, sometimes remembering.

Youth Hostel Guest Book,
Invercargill, New Zealand
April 24, 1979
mom pink dockI wonder how Pinkie Patti will be in her new home. Mercifully, and ironically, because of her Alzheimer’s she will forget this one before long.
She will forget all the joys and sorrows with which she (and we) infused its three-bricks-thick walls. But life will still live here; it will be re-awakened by others at some future time.
And Pinkie Patti will create new joys, sorrows and life in her new place before one day saying goodbye to this life and leaving for her final destination.
As for moving on, there’s comfort in knowing that, in the end, no matter how far and wide we travel, and for how long, all roads eventually take us home. And in that sense, every day is moving day…