" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

October 13, 2007


I visited my parents this afternoon. It's harder and harder to do that because my mother is slowly leaving us. Most of the time, when I enter their apartment she is in bed, lying there, resting, covered by that crocheted blanket that used to be on the couch in the den.

She is 83, two years into dialysis and just getting through the days. Three years ago, she was still driving, and swimming three times a week. Now, she shuffles from the living room to the bedroom spending more time sleeping than waking.

In a complete role reversal, my father looks after her. He is 89. He drives her to dialysis 3 times a week. He comes home and does the dishes. He does the laundry. He gets her water, he reminds her, he is frustrated by her, he has the patience of a saint, he tells us that she is still good lookin', and it has become his reason for existence to tend to her every need.

I see him looking at her with agape love in his eyes. She is lucky because he loves her more. He has always loved her more it would seem. His eyes teared up today when I said that it seemed as if she was really going down hill. It's a strange expression that - "going down hill" as if you're preparing to go skiing. And, her movement in that direction - the final goodbye - is also showing in his thinness, in his face, his eyes, the slope of his shoulders.

I've always been keenly aware of juxtaposition - in events, in the diversity of people's life circumstances.

In my own life, a visitor from the past and the eruption of ridiculous, unwarranted attachment as if 26 years hadn't happened; attachment that makes no sense at all and unleashing the behaviour of some monstrous stranger that I'm ashamed to have reside in me. This afternoon, it was the juxtaposition of that recent crazymaking belittled against the authenticity of real love, not romantic love, no false understanding, no illusions, not one-sided, the competition of wills long since dropped, just being there in silent understanding. Heartbreak warranted for all the right reasons.

I can't explain the heartfelt emotion that enables me to express love for a relative stranger - him - contrasted against a family history in which the words - I love you - didn't exist. Not being able to say those three words to the two people who created me, whom, I've always felt like a stranger to, set against the intensity of feeling that he evokes in me is a juxtaposition for which I have no explanation and for which I am a little bit ashamed. I recognize the absurdity at the same time I know the emotion is real.

There is an undeniable connection for me that I'm convinced began before either of us entered this lifetime which would explain why, inevitably, our interactions always end, it would seem, replicating in words and intensity the dualing swords that we surely crossed in the last one.

In sharp contrast to this immaturity is the agape love shown by my father to my mother; the kind of love in which the word "duty" towards another person, unconditional and voluntary duty, isn't experienced as a burden but as an honour.