Yesterday I left around 8:30 a.m. on a bright, sunny late winter morning for Sherman, my home town of the ‘50’s. There I would meet my parents to spend the day outside of their rural home visiting doctors and a couple stores. It was a wonderful, long, tiring but memorable day for me, latent with lessons and reminders.
When I arrived, they had forgotten to unlock the country home door; either the door bell wasn’t working or they couldn’t hear it. I walked to their back side door and looking around, found some old keys which in time, the two which fit the bolt and knob locks. I walked in to find mom sitting near the door I had originally approached and dad walking carefully down the stairs, uncertain as to why I had arrived. He couldn’t phantom how we ever scheduled two doctor appointments on one day, especially after sitting so many days “locked in” during the snow bound winter months. Mom was dressed so nice, with her now worn back brace attached like an ornament over her bright and cheerful red and white sweater. She was ready to roll!
Our first stop was the wonderful medical center in Sherman. The sun being so bright, mom asked me to park the car with the bright warmth flowing in as she would wait in the car, reading the morning Jamestown Post and listening on the radio to her favorite commentators from the Buffalo stations. I worried about her keeping warm. I showed her how to turn the ignition key. She had a nice home made quilt.
Inside were a few young families, soon joined by an Amish one. The receptionist recognized my father immediately and gave him a warm welcome. We sat to wait and suddenly my mid 80’s Uncle walked in with my cousin Anita. Anita relayed how she also had two doctor appointments that day, here and for herself in Erie. Soon dad and Uncle Everett were talking farm work of the yesteryears and memories of each spring’s “Sugaring” season. “This year the deep snow is going to make it tough.” I reminded them of dad’s early adapting of “half tracks” to his Ford tractors and he concurred that nothing could beat them in deep snow. Everett argued that nothing could ever beat a good team of horses in deep snow, pulling along a flat “boat” over the snow. Dad countered that horses were too unpredictable but Everett claimed dad’s family, especially his father, always bought the cheapest horses that couldn’t be trained for farm work. Dad agreed, recalling a time his dad, my grandfather, bought a cheap pair of Mustangs near Northeast at an auction and coming home, they took off on a run, never stopping until they reached his home in Mina! Everett just exuded earthiness, I thought, with his bright eyes and obviously encyclopedic knowledge of soil, trees and animals.
Soon Dad’s name was called and he got weighed in before being questioned and tested by a most gracious and understanding nurse. “Quality people,” I thought. His blood pressure was 110 over 72, nearly perfect if not a bit low. She asked why he thought it was so low and he said, “I gave up worrying anymore.” Soon the young doctor appeared, tanned and energized from what he said was a wonderful vacation, one of those “medical seminar” ones where it can be all written off as “expenses.” I wondered if it was in Maui from where my son-in-law doctor had just returned. Then he went over my dad’s few scripts, repeating many times why he didn’t need to take Coumadin any more (the discussion of the vacation Seminar) while dad argued he was told by his former doctor he must take it the “rest of my life!” The doctor did leave it up to dad, who turning to me for advice, suggested he drop it. By the time we left, dad had forgotten much of the scene.
Leaving his Aricept script at the local Sherman Pharmacy, run now by wonderful folks originally from India, meeting Mom in the car with the window rolled down to let in cool air, we headed to Jamestown for our next appointment. Running early, we stopped at Davidson’s, their favorite restaurant and one of mine in the 50’s, for three delicious “farm meals.” We shared more of older memories, of my visit with Aunt Lucille in Florida (Dad’s sister) with my cousin Brenda (“who is gifted to do anything and do it well!”). We tried to remember which theater Uncle Harold, now deceased, had served in World War 2. They weren’t sure, but remembered him as nervous and every “wired” when he returned and married Lucille, but a very bright man who took home courses to get off the farm into engine work for Cummings.
At the Urologist’s office, we entered a room full of waiting people, directed there by mom’s accurate detail directions around a closed bridge and police barriers for what we assumed might be some politician’s visit. After registering, the secretary handed dad a little cup with directions on how to leave the sample in the “wall box” in the rest room. I sat among people flipping through the papers and records from previous visits here for dad’s prostate problems, wondering if dad would be able to “pass.” However, the bathroom door suddenly opened and out he came, proudly carrying his nearly full cup, asking the receptionist again where to put it! The woman next to me groaned, “Oh God, how disgusting! He is acting like a child!” I just chuckled.
Soon we were called and walked inside to the “business area” with various rooms for exams and procedures. We had done many of those last fall. We recognized the young urologist and dad shouted his greetings to “my man” as we were led into the exam room. The nurse again was so kind. “Where do they find these special people?” I thought. Then the young doctor entered. No mention of any seminar vacations but bright and alert. He said Dad’s PSA had dropped from 27 to 1.59 and was excellent. The “shot” was working and he recommended another; no surgery, no special procedures, just the shot and come back in July. We both were elated. He left and another beautiful, kind nurse appeared with a long needled syringe for the shot in his rear. I remembered her from last fall; I told her how she was one of my favorite ones too. So dad leaned over, she plugged the long needle in as he groaned loudly and she nearly cried, and it was over. Back in July, “Lord willing.”
Mom was surprised we were done so quickly but with a sparkle in her eye; it was time to shop! If I wasn’t in a hurry. I wasn’t so off we went, first to Aldi’s and then on to Wal-Mart. Mom walked up and down those isles with her brace like she was 20 years younger, Dad following further behind, often losing track where we were, limping along with his sore bottom. At Wal-Mart, all the electric power carts were gone and two folks were waiting. Mom took right off walking, soon leaving Dad behind as I helped her find and pick out various supplies of food and medicine. At one point, we completely lost Dad and she told me not to worry; he’ll make it way back to the front. Later, looking across the huge, cavernous store, I saw him isles away. Seeing me, he simply waved “bye-bye”, smiled and continued on.
It was getting late when we finally arrived back at the house in Sherman. We walked in the quiet, familiar place and both groaned a sense of relief and contentment. “How could they ever leave this?” I thought, but soon I’m sure they must. I used mom’s computer to type up instructions for Becky, their helper, and filled Dad’s pillbox with a week’s supply, “demanding” he stick to it. I left a copy of my instructions to Becky with invites to call me if Dad refused and wanted to “take them on his own” as memory kicks in and out, along with his closet full of numerous “miracle pills” to prevent aging.
After hugs and kisses, I began the journey back to Hamburg, resuming my iPod listening to wonderful music from Moonlight Serenade to Ken Wapnick’s lectures on how all of this is just an illusion. It had been a wonderful day. Arriving home, I found Naomi tired and aching from her recent fall, stiff in the knee and ankle from too much activity the day before. As we put together a simple supper, I thought of my aging parents, just “down the road ahead of us.” I thought, “This is aging, this is growing old, and from my day in Sherman, I received more lessons and reminders.” I thought of Ken’s wonderful words from the Course, how this is all just a journey to God in reawakening to the knowledge of where we always are and what we will always be forever, a Child of God in Spirit. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed.
Later, as I practiced a few golf swings in my special area, I noticed my swing speed had dropped another five mph over the winter months. The body keeps getting stiffer as it ages. The walks around the links will be slower this year, and I may need to ride more. But it’s all okay. It’s all just a wonderful dream of letting go, of returning Home, to where I never left in reality, and will always be.