|A toast to summer|
What I really wanted to do is find a picture of Lynn, because I'd like to introduce you to her this morning. It was a year ago that she moved into the ground-floor apartment at the base of the stairs with her grown son. Although she is in her early fifties, I wondered if she was retired (not knowing her exact age) but learned that ten years ago she was in a horrific car accident, with her husband driving their motor home. She and her then-13-year-old son were in the back, traveling home from a vacation, with husband and his brother in the front seat. In the accident, both men were killed instantly, along with the driver of the pickup that struck them.
Her life changed completely from that moment on. Although her son was only slightly injured physically, Lynn suffered many broken bones, with one leg and ankle shattered, along with serious head injuries. She spent the next year in a convalescent hospital. At one point they almost amputated her leg below the knee, but instead she opted to keep it with all the metal and pain, learning to walk on it again. At first she was in a heavy boot (which she still occasionally needs to use), but when I met her last year, she was determinedly going on long walks with her cane. Not always, though: sometimes she went without it, and now if you were to see her on a good day, you'd never know about her disability.
A few months ago she joined our walking group on Saturday mornings, and she goes out for a long walk several times a week, at a fast pace and with friends she has made from the group. Lynn is one of those people who makes friends every single day with everyone she meets. She is the essential ingredient that was missing from our apartment complex. After she showed up, we began to have evening gatherings of the women in nearby apartments, all of us fellow gardeners, too.
Last month she moved from the downstairs apartment to the one right next to me. We all helped with the move, and she used the opportunity to shed some of her more cumbersome furniture. And now her front porch is the hub where we all gather. This past Friday night we enjoyed an evening visit with Kitty, who was the previous occupant of the apartment next door, along with the four of us mentioned at the beginning. They all knew I would be the first to leave, because I just don't like to stay up late, and after I left and snuggled into my bed (SG was out for the evening), I listened to the sound of their laughter until I fell asleep.
Yesterday as we were returning from the Saturday morning walk, I stopped at the local drugstore where I can pick up some wine (we drank it all the night before), and I bought a box of my favorite. While we were at the checkout counter, I pulled out my ID (it doesn't matter if you're ninety, they have to see it). The clerk announced it would cost $19.56. Lynn and I said together, "that was a good year." Lynn added, "if I had been around to see it, of course."
Nineteen fifty-six. "What do you mean," I said, "if you were around. Of course you were." She looked at me and said, "I was born in 1965." Shocked, I realized that I was only a teenager in 1956 and suddenly realized the difference in our ages. Although I know it intellectually, I don't ever feel it. I am more than old enough to be her mother. I grew up in the fifties and sixties, but that was more than half a century ago. Where did all that time go?
The incident got me to thinking of how I compartmentalize my life. When I first started skydiving (1991), my skydiving accident (2000), when my son Chris died (2002), and when I retired and moved away to Bellingham (2008) — these are milestones that give me a way to think of what happened when. The scary thing is that they all seem rather immediate when I pull them up out of my memory to ponder. Time does not follow a linear path in my mind, but has peaks and valleys. I guess that's normal. How could I already be a septuagenarian? Wasn't it just 1956 the other day?
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Part of the reason I forget, I guess, is that I am still able to live an active life. After I finish this post and start my day, I'll do my exercises and head off to the coffee shop before my morning yoga class. It will be the second week with a substitute who knocked my socks off last Sunday. She's harder than Laifong but I found that I was intrigued to see what I could and couldn't do. She had us in a full shoulder stand (which I didn't think I would be able to accomplish, but I did), and although I was sore the next day, I'm looking forward to what she will introduce me to today. This foray into yoga has been really good for me. I feel more balanced and confident as I move, and I'm totally convinced I'm getting taller. Last week I signed up for the fall semester, and when I sign up for the winter, I'll have been attending for a year.
Two weeks ago as I was leaving the class, Laifong mentioned to me that she had been surprised at how well I have been doing and said that I had exceeded her expectations. That sure gave me a boost. Obviously, her expectations weren't very high, since I'd been attending the gentle yoga classes and had not been exposed to Level I, the next step up. I think I've found my current level, although it makes a huge difference who is teaching it, I'm discovering.
Fall is coming. After another three-day mini-heat wave, we had a day with the temperature in the sixties yesterday (20°C) and another to follow today. It's probably the last heat of the summer, and I won't miss it a bit. I've become a Pacific Northwesterner with little tolerance for the heat. Oh, wait: I've always been that way, which is part of the reason we moved here. Next week will also bring some chances for rain, which has also been absent during July and August. I miss the lush green we usually have, but it's coming back now that fall is righ around the corner.
And with that, I'll say farewell for today. My partner is still sleeping next to me, and the sun is finally over the horizon. Tea is gone and the day is calling. I look forward to my coffee shop friends (not to mention my daily latte) and the class that awaits me. Until we meet again next week, I hope you will stay safe and surrounded with love and light. Be well.