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, June 18, 2023

Fun with old friends

Baat, me, SG, and Alan

We had a wonderful treat this past Friday, when a couple of old friends (also skydivers) came to visit us for the day. Baat and Alan returned from Israel not too long ago, and have decided to live in Boulder, Colorado, where the four of us were fast friends for around seven years. We had not seen them for almost two decades, and they brought two of their three kids along with them. (They, the young ones, were out doing whatever young adults do these days. Ever heard of an Escape Room? Me neither.) We grownups spent quite a bit of time catching up with our lives since we were last together. 

The two of them are involved in the esoteric computer world. Alan writes programs that I cannot begin to understand, and Baat designs conferences that are intended to help women become more involved in computer science and related fields. They are both, in a few words, fantastically talented and we are blessed to have them as friends. But when we knew them, they were just regular folks who jumped out of airplanes for fun, like us. 

I was afraid that enough time had passed to make our lives no longer relevant to one another, but that was not the case. After getting over the shock of seeing them with two grown young men (their daughter is off at a summer camp somewhere), we settled down to the long conversations that helped us reconnect to our old lives. None of us are actively skydiving right now, although Baat has just gotten recurrent after eight years away, so that she can participate in an upcoming activity. Other than that, we didn't spend much time talking about the one thing that initially brought us together.

I was fascinated to spend some time talking with their eldest son, Kai, who went to school in Israel and became proficient in Hebrew and learned Arabic as well. So he's got three languages under his belt and is going to be a real asset to the world as he matures. His brother is three years younger and didn't interact much with the adults before they both took off to that Escape Room. Once we said goodbye for now, the family set off for the Canadian border, since it looks like Kai will attend college in Vancouver. He was accepted at both Simon Frasier and the University of British Columbia. So they are off checking out the schools after having visited us in Bellingham.

Boulevard Park walk

We took them for a leisurely walk along Boulevard Park so that we could talk, as well as let me spend quite a bit of time grabbing Baat for a hug (she's so eminently huggable). I have to say this is the most I've seen SG without a mask in ages. He got so caught up in talk that he forgot to put it back on! Once the boys returned from their adventure, we made our goodbyes (for now) and we returned to our old lives. But both of us have been feeling amazingly buoyed up by the interaction and the act of bringing the past into the present and realizing how much we love them. And learning that they still love us, too. My heart is full.
In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. —Albert Schweitzer
*  *  *

And here we are, today, experiencing another Father's Day. My own dad has been on the other side of the grass for more than forty years. But it doesn't change the fact that we are still, and forever, connected to one another. I idolized my father, to the chagrin of my mother, who warned me that he had many faults that I would discover as I grew older. But what happened instead is that I left home at an early age, pregnant at eighteen and moved to Puerto Rico with my then-husband. I didn't get to spend much time with Daddy after that. He was also an alcoholic, so many of my adult memories of Daddy were of him "in his cups," and as often happens with drink, he was not really himself much of the time, but instead became loquacious and ended up leaving the conversations early as he sank into a place where I could not follow. 

I didn't realize that all parents weren't like that, having impromptu parties every night after dinner. When I visited my parents, I spent more time with Mama, so my memories of interactions with Daddy are infused with a sense of unreality. Plus I don't actually have all that many memories that come up into my mind, when I think of him.

Daddy when he was young

But I loved him and was devastated when he died at 62, of a heart attack, along with so many other family members who also died of the same fate. Including, of course, my son who died at forty of a heart attack. It's one reason that I exercise all the time, in order to stave off the family curse of heart disease. I have a distant memory of Daddy's large hand and my own small one nestling inside, feeling protected and safe.

Now that I am old, I realize that the illusion of safety was just that; life is full of ups and downs, and we all know that eventually we will slip away, leaving the world for the young, who will also move through time to themselves grow old and continue the cycle of life and death. It's an elegant world, and once you allow yourself to enjoy it as it is, there are so many times when just simply finding ways to spread loving kindness will make everything better. And since we have a choice, I choose love and beauty.

And with that, my Sunday post is almost finished, with just a few reminders to take care of: remembering my dear extended family, you who visit me weekly, who leave a few words that always make me feel so incredibly fortunate to have found you. And my dear sweet partner who still sleeps next to me as I write this. Soon I will rise from my bed and will spend another wonderful day in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, happy to have another week to spread and receive joy and happiness. Until we meet again, dear friends, I wish you all good things. Be well.


John's Island said...

Hi DJan,
Another encouraging and uplifting post, the kind that has kept me coming back to Eye every Sunday for years. These words are perfection: “… life is full of ups and downs, and we all know that eventually we will slip away, leaving the world for the young, who will also move through time to themselves grow old and continue the cycle of life and death. It's an elegant world, and once you allow yourself to enjoy it as it is, there are so many times when just simply finding ways to spread loving kindness will make everything better.” I think the key part of that is, “… once you allow yourself to enjoy it as it is…” I feel so lucky to have made it this far in life and get to that point you described and now it brightens my every day. Thanks, as always, for sharing. Sending along wishes for a happy week ahead to you and SG.

Linda Reeder said...

As we remember our fathers on this day it's interesting which memories linger the strongest. Thanks for another good Sunday post. Most of my family is dispersed today doing other things. We will host Jake for dinner this evening. It is a laid back day here.

Elephant's Child said...

This is a truly beautiful post. These lines 'there are so many times when just simply finding ways to spread loving kindness will make everything better. And since we have a choice, I choose love and beauty.' strike me as a totally admirable life philosophy.

Rian said...

It is amazing how a visit with good friends can lift your spirits. So glad you'all had this opportunity to get together.
As for Father's Day, I have a memory of my dad holding my hand at night after a scary dream. It would completely calm my fears. From what I see on TV and movies, so many relationships between fathers and sons/daughters were/are difficult. I was blessed (as were you) with a wonderful dad and happy childhood memories.
And now that we have arrived at old age... I truly hope our kids and grandkids hold good memories of the days we were with them.
Wishing you (and SG) a wonderful Sunday! Enjoy!

William Kendall said...

This father's day for me is a reflective one.

Rita said...

What a wonderful visit and so nice to see SmartGuy!!
I have heard of an Escape Room. Sounds challenging. Not sure I'd be able to make it out--LOL!
My dad was the nicer parent, so I do have some fond memories. A beautiful day here. :)

Far Side of Fifty said...

How wonderful to have such a great visit! Nice to see photos of you and Smart Guy together with friends!
WE ventured into an escape room with Jen, Andy, Noah and Adam one day and it was great fun! (Teamwork to solve puzzles and how to get out of the room)

Red said...

Always cool to meet good friends from long ago and have a good visit. Bitter sweet with your Dad. You remember the good stuff and some of the bad. Interesting how when you're a kid you don't see all the warts and the adults.

Marie Smith said...

What a wonderful reunion with old friends. It must have felt like old times when you could get together and take up where you left off really.

When the parent is gone, Father’s or Mother’s Day take on another dimension really. A day of reflection is in order.

Anvilcloud said...

Good ruminations about your father and life. Have a good week out there on the left.

Glenda Beall said...

Good post, DJan. Father's Day was always frustrating for me. My father seemed to hate that day because he was given gifts by his seven children that he didn't want. I wish we had gift cards back then. I could have always pleased him with one of those, I think. Like you I am seeing my friends more and enjoying life more. I want to do things with my "one precious life."