Today’s Autumn Observance

As the day began I felt somehow comforted that John Lennon would have been 75 today. That lifted me to consider how to take the day on.

While the seemingly endless weeks of Texas summer weather refuse to pass, I looked forward to enjoying yard work when autumn finally falls. That’s when the fruit of my labors remain evident far longer than in spring or summer. What’s more, now that all my siblings are beyond life’s halfway mark, comparing this season of our generation to autumn seems almost right. Almost, but its still unsettling.

Though simple yard maintenance tasks took longer to accomplish today, I enjoyed myself so much that I nearly forgot an appointment this morning.

In all fairness, back up a bit: The whole story; unable to take my usual walk first thing today – again, I’d reached my threshold for drama in our home early on and sought refuge outdoors. Once immersed in work and praying for the loved ones at the top of my concerns list, I slipped into pleasant oblivion long enough to need to brush all vanity aside and rush – your essential down-shift.

And even further back: As the first female I’m the trailblazer of the human aging process for this generation of our family. Our previous generations suddenly slipped away from us before we had the foresight to note statistics we’d all disregarded. Genetically speaking, aging is clearly challenging enough, but more so without a road map. This month the baby of our family got slammed with lumbar problems at about the same age I was when an injury also pointed out that time was marching across my back.

Three weeks into her treatment phase, I heard more often than I want (for now), “I don’t know how you lived through this for so long. Why don’t you just have the surgery?” She forgets how we already concluded (repeatedly), that “every body is different.” Excuse the pause – rolling my eyes makes me dizzy these days.

Several times over the past weeks I’ve heroically resisted the impulse to fire off expletives that would shock those outside our family circle – solely to jerk her attention from her genuine pain long enough to realize, 1. she’s not alone; and that matters, and 2. I’m close enough to catch her if she falls. Not that she may (or if she did, after recovery we’d humorously embellish the story for years), but because experientially I know enough about her specifically, her condition AND the medications her doctor prescribed. Therefore, I pay close attention to Ms. Feistily Independent while she’s up and moving about. I also try to imagine her away at work while she’s settled safely in her bed with her laptop. Until this morning.

My most profound observations today: When we were quite young, my siblings and I all grew up taking some beatings, mentally, emotionally and physically. We all learned early on to regard degrees of pain as momentary nuisances to consider later, the severity, source and time being subjective.

But as we age, and we all indeed have, we’re wiser to that “press through the pain,” philosophy our late brother Richard impressed upon us while we were young survivors and somewhat reckless. It isn’t always a great practice, and as we ‘progress’ the pain gets stronger remarkably faster. Yeah, this is more about missing Richard’s unique input, a “what would Richard do” moment.

Though we once considered extreme degrees of discomfort a challenge, we all learned that ignoring relentless, elevated pain will most likely cause more severe hurting and possibly other complications. Richard’s short lifespan is now a good example. While we remember him fondly and longingly with each new pang, Roan is now coming to terms with the reality life forced upon me over a decade ago, though it served us well long ago, ignoring pain isn’t necessarily wise throughout our lives.

As we continue to pursue new levels of debase mockery over our deteriorating bodies (our preferred method of coping), I prefer to practice a new phrase Richard never had time to consider; I now “brace for the next blow.”

We’re still listening. Even so, we miss ya, Bro.

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