Mind Matters — Meandering Thoughts through the Months

January, 2021—Snow Fall

I was at the kitchen sink looking out at the snow falling. A flash of memory comes. I remember when my cousin John, college friend Joanne, and I walked at night in a snowstorm—we trekked from my parents’ new home all the way past town to a bridge outcropping on the Delaware River, probably a part of the steel mill then. What I remember is the stillness of snow falling on the dark river and the three of us talking with the profound thoughts of twenty year olds. I think the world was less ambiguous then and certainly filled with the hope and promise of our future selves.

That was 55 years ago. Our future selves are mostly past selves now. There has been beauty and love and accomplishment but there has also been failure and trauma and grief.

I have been thinking a lot about my cousins and extended family. We grew up, 25 of the 26 cousins, in the same town. Death was not a stranger to us, even as kids. One cousin died at age thirteen, when he was delivering newspapers on his bicycle and a drunk driver hit him.

February, 2021—Snow Thaw

There is a thaw, the Lenten roses and witch hazels are blooming, yet, in this earth struggle for spring, I am feeling at my limits. I remember when my mother was dying and my father was in rapid decline himself. I had reached my limits when the toilet overflowed. I sat on the wet floor, tears mingling with the water surrounding me. Of course, I cleaned up the mess and carried on, but not without a silent scream to the universe to stop already! So again I carry on yet give another Job shout to the universe to stop already.

Thing is, even in COVID time, my problems are very first world. What? I can’t go on vacation or go to my favorite restaurant or see a play? Actually my reaching my limit has little to do with those little perks of life, but more with taking care of grandchildren in very confined circumstances. Yep, I still miss all the space and beauty of the Brandywine Valley. Looking out my windows into the neighbors windows gives me no voyeuristic pleasure whatsoever! Ah! So there is the reaching my limits difference between when my mother was dying and now. I remember driving my mother to radiation treatments at Chester County Hospital and she looking out the car window at the trees and winter Wyeth light along route 100. She and I both found quiet solace in this scenery.

When the destructive march of COVD wanes and we all become vaccinated, perhaps I will once again venture out, with grandkids in tow to places in nature that lift our spirits beyond what we thought were our limits.

March to Spring, 2021

I go to the dentist after putting off teeth cleaning for a year. The dental hygienist informs me that my sensitivity complaints are probably due to teeth grinding during sleep. She says, “not to worry, everybody’s having this problem these days. I’m telling everybody to get a night guard.” There must be a boom in dental guard manufacturing in this time of weeping and gnashing of teeth!

What I extrapolate from my own experience is that if I am so stressed what must so many other be going through? How can we help, not only ourselves, but also each other? My daughter is volunteering her online skills to help others less computer savvy to snag vaccination appointments. My son is volunteering at a vaccination clinic in California. I am donating money to organizations I trust that will help others. And as for myself? I am taking walks at a local cemetery that gives me a new lease on life. Where else can you say hello to Longfellow and other famous dignitaries?