Monday, June 1, 2009

Touch Stones

We all have them. Clarifying moments, times of epiphany, touchstones in our life that help clarify who we are and who we have been. I believe they are moments you can clearly remember years later, they are moments that while you are experiencing them you know you will remember them clearly, years later, they are moments that help define the way you remember yourself and how you think of yourself today.

Certainly these touchstones can be heart stopping moments: A missed accident, a real accident, a death, a moment when you realize a relationship is done. Some of mine are like this. I can still remember very clearly seeing Marty when she had her second stroke. I clearly remember her slumped over and the left side of her face slack without any muscle control. I immediately knew what was happening and I still remember virtually every detail of those minutes. I still flash to those memories every time Marty moves in a way that reminds me of that event.

Most of my touchstones are events that are moving and positive moments. They may seem silly to some, but to me they represent my life and the emotional connection I have with life. I remember clearly Matt in the 8th grade band playing their last concert before they moved on to high school. Matt played trumpet at the time and they were playing in the high school gym and they played one of the pieces from Dances with Wolves. Matt did not have a solo and I had heard the music several times over the years, but somehow, this time it really struck me how moving the piece was and what a privilege it was to listen to my son help make the music. I have no idea why it struck me but it did.

Then there was the time when we went skiing in Angel Fire, New Mexico with the Patricks. Just as clearly as if it were yesterday I remember standing at the top of one of the slopes as I watched Matt, Erin, David, Andrew and Elizabeth charge down the white slope of snow. It was cold, the sky was the ice blue you can only see at 10,000 feet, and the wind was cold on your face. I watched the kids slide down the slope effortlessly and I knew, I knew this was one of those moments that you want to remember when all things seem really right, when everything seems in rhythm, when you can forget everything around you but this one moment and relish it.

Certainly Marty has provided some touchstone moments. After her first stroke, after time in ICU, after a couple of surgeries we finally made it to comprehensive rehab at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco. When we got there Marty could not stand independently, she had absolutely no stamina and just wanted to sleep. She started rehab and like most things Marty has done in her life she did it with no obvious fear. She made steady progress until one day I walked in to the rehab gym and there she was, with her PT, "Froggie" (I can't remember why we called her Froggie, but she certainly didn't look Froggie). They were standing atop of the set of up and down stairs they used for stair climbing practice. Froggie had a good grip on Marty and when Marty saw me walk in she broke in to the "John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever" pose with her right arm sticking up and wiggling her bottom. It was jarring, it was pure Marty, it was a moment I will never forget.

All of this is to say I had another one of the epiphany moments this week at the lake. Marty and I both love coming to the lake. Marty really seems to be at peace and I know I am. Yesterday we were sitting on the dock in the bay (it's a song) listening to the tide roll away. In this case we were sitting listening to the water, we had a hook in the water, Marty was watching the fishing pole intently, the wind was blowing slightly, the clouds were moving across the blue sky, and it all seemed to come together to make a moment, a moment I will remember, a moment that said being here, right now is just right.

I plan on having more of these moments with Marty, with my children, my coming grandchild (Larry-Bob, it is a boy), my family and my friends. I want more of those moments that make me who I am, even if they occasionally make me cry. That's okay.

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