March 28, 2005

Being Not Here Now

THE ATTENTION GIVEN TO THE PLIGHT OF THE DISABLED IN AMERICA made me recall this essay I wrote last September: Visit to an Old Friend. More at the link. A part of it reads,

Be. Here. Now. Remember that phrase?

He's here but not here now. It's two decades, two wives, two daughters, and many more than two strokes later. He's here now in this residence hotel for the aged and the infirm in a San Francisco neighborhood doesn't change with the years. He's waiting for me in his wheelchair, in the sun, his brother by his side. He's only 59 years old with God only knows how many years ahead of him.

He might still want to play the piano, but his hands won't answer him any more. They can't it. They'll never do it again. The hands no longer answer when he calls them. He's learned not to call.

Now his hands can barely lift a spoon or maneuver a cup to his lips. His speech is slurred and slow. You can see the end of the sentence fade from his mind before he gets to the middle. Still, in fits and starts, in moments and sparks of expression, you can see him emerge from inside his prison and then sink back in. You find yourself looking for those moments. You glide over all the others.

We meet and we go for a walk and a roll with his brother in the San Francisco afternoon. We come back and take a table in the Indian restaurant under the series of rooms are now his last home. We work our way through the lunch buffet. And we talk, mostly about the past since the past is where he's most at ease.

The fence we built on his ranch/commune. The day the two dogs we owned from the same litter killed the chicken. The stoned, comic film we were going to make with large vats of spaghetti in the first scene. Wives we had and girls we knew. The old songs. The handsome collection of pot plants on the deck that was taken away by the local police. The concerts. The marches. All the old moments, more than we could say in the few hours we had.

Posted by Vanderleun at March 28, 2005 12:50 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

I have to hear what Todd will change with that!!!

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