Winter never goes south

Dark winter days are depressing. Brick buildings look horribly dead under gray skies and surrounded by denuded sleeping trees. All the world is overcast, and, I remember — looking out the hotel window —  that I wanted to cry. I feel waves of sadness just thinking about it.

All seems like misfortune with no promise of change. Maybe it’s the stillness that is so sad. Maybe it’s the fact that life, when it is completely colorless, is flat and not worth living.

Florida garden without the green

Maybe it’s that there are no shadows. No contrasts. Nothing green. Everything is dead, and there is absolutely no promise of spring. The word does not exist. The concept does not exist.

Caught in that dead place, I felt stuck, and thought that I would be looking out of that hotel room forever.

I am struck by that even today.  Although I live in a place that is eternally green, I find that I rarely make the time to enjoy it —  I do glance out occasionally and appreciate the  beautifully blue sky, or at sunset, with brilliant splashes of color spilling across it. Uplifting! No wonder people  return to Florida each winter!

Winter, I realize, does not have to be so damned. Looking at a country scene, cleansed by snow, winter is beautiful. It’s the city scapes that frighten me — the time before the snow, or after, when the dirt mixed with water makes the world feel like mud, a kind of wet, cold, clinging dirtiness that is horribly unpleasant.

Well, now, I was thinking about death and knowing that I was going to die…

Slowly, I saw my parents rid themselves of life. My mother especially. I watched her disassociate and come to accept her death. She didn’t know that she was dying, that’s the strange part.

My father, always quiet, became even more quiet. At the end, his arms and hands flew around, like they no longer belonged to his body. I thought he was afraid, and I wanted to quiet him, but the hospice nurse told me that moving like that was a part of death. I did not see that with my mother. My dad had a harder time dying. There was more pain, more knowledge, and a harder acceptance.

Me, I’ll probably be like that old lady I saw in Rome — the mean one dressed in a long black dress with the cane. She walked down the street  cursing (even though I don’t know Italian, I knew she was cursing). Rather than use her cane as a crutch, she used it as a weapon, flailing it around in front of her, parting the crowd. Making way.

A grumpy old woman. That’s what I’m afraid I will become.

Which reminds me. This year, I will direct my cane with precision, and, if I fail,  I will go to Oregon and get a job at a grocery store. End of story, and, now that I think about it, not a bad ending, at all!


The Unaccountable

I was shocked by this.

In the accompanying May 30,2010 New York Times story, “The Great Unknown,” a blessing of war, it says, is the fact that, now, at least, we are able to name those we have lost. In earlier wars, we had no idea who the dead were. Small consolation.

“The sad reality is that there will likely be new recruits for Arlington’s ranks, now 300,000 strong,” Robert Poole, author of On Hallowed Ground said. “Though all losses are painful, perhaps we can take some consolation in the knowledge that the names of those who will sacrifice so much are unlikely to go unknown.”

Graphic is by Rumors, a design studio.