I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Living the dash

Camellia in bloom

Walking back home after my coffee shop visit, I saw a bush laden with camellias in bloom already. It's almost April, but I am always taken aback by how quickly we go from winter to spring in this part of the country. And since this pandemic started, I've altered my route from the bus stop back home, making for a longer walk. I am not getting the same amount of exercise every day that I did before, but I've managed to find ways to get in most of my steps through determined effort. And now the weather is getting better and being outdoors is much more pleasant than it was when it was dark and wet.

Have you heard the phrase "living the dash" before? It refers to the line used in obituaries between one's birth year and one's death, as in (my case) 1942–20xx. Obviously I don't yet know what those last two marks will be, because I seem to be hanging in there still today, into the third decade of the 21st century. One day my relatives and friends will be able to complete it. Happens to everybody eventually. So we are busy living our dashes as we progress through our days.

Yesterday I watched a very moving documentary about Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993). I always loved watching her in movies, and I remember her work as an ambassador for UNICEF in her later years. For some reason, I thought she had grown quite old, but she was only 63 when she died of a rare form of stomach cancer. She had two children, both boys, one from each of her two marriages, and she apparently had suffered miscarriages as well. She wanted to have lots of children, but it was not to be. I am well aware of how little most of us are able to plan out our lives. She was an amazing woman who would be in her nineties today if she had lived that long. I tend to think of her has having died prematurely, but is that really true? If one dies in their forties or fifties, that is definitely premature, but living until one is well into their sixties, I'm not sure. In some ways I look at my own life, rolling quickly towards my ninth decade of life, and I know I've been fortunate and have lived the vast majority of my dash already. No premature death for me.

Audrey accomplished so much during her life. She was fluent in six languages and made some memorable movies. I loved Breakfast at Tiffany's when I first saw it many years ago, and thanks to the miracle of today's world, I think I'll watch it again for free on Amazon Prime, which I subscribe to. She won an Oscar for her performance in that movie and is one of only a handful of people who have garnered an EGOT: which is shorthand for receiving an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. She was such a kind person, and you could see it in her face over the years she performed, and in the documentary you can tell how much she cared about the starving children she raised money for. During the time she was affiliated with UNICEF, contributions more than doubled because of her efforts. And she also found true love in her later years. If you subscribe to Netflix, you can see the documentary yourself.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years. —Audrey Hepburn
That was certainly true about Audrey: she is more beautiful in her later years than in her youth. And because of film, we have the ability to see all the phases of her life, from her first movie to this documentary that covers her life after she left Hollywood behind. Even today she is enriching my life and that of many others. Who could ask for a better legacy?

* * * 

I am now fully vaccinated. Last Tuesday I went to PeaceHealth, where I received my second Pfizer dose, and on April 9th, two weeks after that shot, I will be as safe as possible from the coronavirus. Nobody knows yet how long that immunity will last, but for now I am quite happy to know that I am protected from Covid and its variants. It is a good feeling, and yesterday I went to a restaurant for brunch after my walk. Lily treated me to a wonderful vegan meal at Twin Sisters Brewery, which offers both indoor and outdoor seating and seemed to be doing a brisk business. We are now able to have restaurants at 50% capacity, meaning that we are through the hardest part of the pandemic, and hopefully businesses will now begin to recover. I read somewhere that more than 2,000 restaurants have closed permanently in Seattle, never to return. That means all those employees will have to find other jobs.

I was expecting that I might have some after-effects from the shot, but other than a sore arm and a few aches and pains (which I might have had anyway), it was pretty easy. And a minor headache that didn't require me to take anything, but it's gone now, and I'm feeling happy to be among the thousands of old people who cannot pass it to others. There is still a five to ten percent chance of getting it, but if I do it should be a mild illness, probably similar to what I experienced last March. It was difficult a year ago to get a test, so I don't know for sure whether or not I had it, and fortunately I am not one of those people who developed what is called "long Covid," where you don't really get over it but continue to have symptoms that vary from mild to severe, and never let up. That must be really hard to deal with. This virus has truly altered our world, and not for the better.

But we are through the worst of it, at least in the US. I am hoping that we will not have another surge, although we are still getting more than a thousand new cases across the country every day. I am certainly not going to stop wearing a mask or keeping my distance from others. It's funny, I now feel quite happy to have my face covering, and considering that we didn't get much of a flu season because of it, maybe it would be a good idea to keep on with the masking in public places. They do it in Asian countries, where masks are pretty permanent accessories. Just another way our lives have changed. Plus I have quite a collection of them now.

Well, dear friends, that pretty much wraps up another Sunday post. I enjoyed writing this one, mostly because of Audrey, and now that my tea is gone and my dear partner sleeps next to me, everything feels bright and a new day beckons. 

I do hope that whatever you do with your day, it will be a good one. And remember, whatever you find to do with it, find a way to spread around some kindness. It will make the world a better place, as well as brighten your own day. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things.


Linda Reeder said...

Good morning. I forgot to turn off the 7:30 alarm, so I am up. I was ready to wake up anyway.
The morning looks gray and cold. I don't know if I'll get a walk in today. It continues to be a struggle and I am not inclined to walk in cold rain.
I saw the Netflix promo for the Audrey bio and put it on my list. Now I will watch it for sure. We watched the Oscar nominated movie "Minari" last night and it left me feeling down. So far we have seen three of the nominated movies, and after those I am not inclined to try very hard to see the rest. They seem to be downers.
We have several health crisis going on in our family right now, a newborn baby and my older sister, and across the miles I an trying to stay informed and provide some support and comfort. With my own discouragement at my lack of physical progress, I don't need downers. I will watch some more basketball today. Oregon State entertained me yesterday with a win. Today we have Gonzaga and University of Oregon, good representation of the PNW in the NCAA. I'm still an Oregonian by birth and youth.
I hope are enjoying your day. Having been vaccinated does give a bit more of a sense of freedom.

Betsy said...

I get my second Pfizer vaccine tomorrow morning and it's such a relief to know I'll be covered as well as possible. I had read the full coverage is 7 days after the 2nd shot for Pfizer and 14 days for Moderna. Since I'm driving cross country next Monday, I sure hope the 7 days is correct. I'm glad you didn't have many side effects. Hubby didn't have any. Barely knew where the needle went in.

ApacheDug said...

That's a lovely closeup of that blossom--if that doesn't say spring, I don't know what does. I feel like I'm in your neck of the woods today DJan, it's not cold here in Pittsburgh but it's very rainy & gray and I've got all my windows open & airing out my place quite nicely. I've never heard of that saying 'living the dash', but it's always been obvious to me you take little for granted; we should all live that way. I saw that documentary 'Audrey' a week ago, I watched it because my own mom adored her. (I was also pretty surprised she died so young, but I DO think 63 is premature--it's the age both my own mom & dad died.) But I found it heartbreaking too, she longed for her dad her entire life, only to learn... I don't want to share it here and spoil it for others who haven't seen it, but it tore my heart in two. Anyway, glad to hear you're fully vaccinated now and hope your week ahead is full of those blossoms :^)

Arkansas Patti said...

That is a new expression for me but interesting. My dash is almost done and I hope I didn't waste too much of it.
I wish I could get the Audrey film but I don't get Netflix. I admired her more as a person than as a "star". And yes, that was too young for she was using her dash wisely.
So glad you are fully vaccinated. Me too and like you not too much will change. Still wear the mask and will still avoid large gatherings. It is a bit scary that the numbers are picking up again in so many states. Heard this morning that we may need booster shots for the variants. Sigh.

Marie Smith said...

It is great to hear you have had the two vaccines now, Jan. We can register for our first doses next week. Our second won’t be until this summer.

Such a wonderful tribute to Audrey that people continue to enjoy her work today.

Elephant's Child said...

Love that your Spring is appearing in all its vibrant beauty. i am also very glad that you have had both your vaccines. I think my first is still some weeks away.
Stay safe - and enjoy your dash - which is a wonderful term.

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a beautiful Camellia, how wonderful that you have such beautiful blooms already! So glad you are done with the vaccinations. We are seeing a surge in cases here in Minnesota. Paige is still real sick...she says the headache is horrid...we are checking in by phone with her everyday....she has meals and medications and if she needs something we will drop it off for her. I feel so sorry for her.
Take care and have a good week!

gigi-hawaii said...

I love Audrey Hepburn. I shall watch it on Netflix. Thanks for the tip.
I took the 2nd dose of the Moderna yesterday and have no side effects. I hope it does protect me from the virus, but who knows about the 5%???

Gigi said...

What a beautiful shot of the camellia! I have a lovely camellia bush and as much as it fills me with joy, I am always so sad the blooms are so short lived.

I'm so happy to hear you are fully vaccinated now! We received our first Pfizer shots last week and are looking forward to our second does in a couple of weeks.

Rian said...

That is a beautiful Camelia. And I've always been an Audrey Hepburn fan myself. I've seen that on Netflix, but haven't watched it yet... maybe tomorrow.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, When it comes to this process of growing older, I often learn something new here on Eye on the Edge. The concept of “living the dash” is new to me. I like it … it does put things in perspective. I smiled at your example. “It refers to the line used in obituaries between one's birth year and one's death, as in (my case) 1942–21xx.” I think you meant 1942—20xx. Truth be told, either of us might set a new record if we live to 2100. :-) I did love Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Definitely worth watching again. And I do think there is a beauty in all humans … or at least most of them … as they enter the “evening” of their years. I think some would call that beauty wisdom. Happy to hear you’ve been fully vaccinated and able to go forward as safely as possible. Thank you for the post. Until next Sunday, take care and be well. John

Red said...

Personally I feel better for having my shot but as a world I think we have many more problems ahead. Here we are heading into a third wave. Vaccinating is slow and variants are fast. Our vaccination program is a shambles.

Linda Myers said...

We're about a month past our second Moderna shot. Really good to have a visitor in our little place from time to time, or to visit someone else's.

We have a target date of May 1 to fly home to Seattle for six months - depends on several little medical things. It's warming up here in Tucson - in the 80s all next week and 90 next Saturday. So I expect we'll be ready.

I like the dash too - reminds me to keep on keeping on!

Anvilcloud said...

That is a new term to me, but it is one that I hope to remember although I can't count on that. :)

Still a bit jealous of the vaccine progress in the US, but I wasn't jealous for the previous 12 months, so let's call it even. :)

Rita said...

Ah, yes--living your dash. :)
My favorite Audrey Hepburn movie is Wait Until Dark! I have the documentary in my queue and will bump it up. I admired her so much as a person. No, didn't realise she died so young. That does seem young to me but that's because people in our family usually live into their 80s and 90s and I had a grandma live to be 104. Speaking of the dash--she managed to live into 2000--LOL! On the headstone they had already carved 1896-19__. Had to carve off the 19--LOL! Leave it to Anna to make things diffcult for people. ;)
Happy spring!

William Kendall said...

Wisely said. It'll be awhile before I get vaccinated, I imagine.

Margaret said...

Nice to get both your shots. Me too, which is why I have flights to go back east to visit my daughters. I also had a strange headache behind my left ear-but it wasn't agonizing. I never get headaches so I'm pretty sure it was shot related. Here in Pierce County we're probably getting bumped down to Phase 2 because our cases are going up. :( I'm being good, but so many aren't.