Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth Day & a Birthday

Welcome to new follower Jacki. It's been a while since some one new has signed on, and I'm thrilled that Jacki has taken the time from her busy life - (among other things, she's raising two of her 12 grandchildren!) - to "join the conversation." Thanks, Jacki!
Earth Day & a Birthday
I'm a day late for Earth Day, but shouldn't every day be Earth Day?
I want to stay positive . . . I do, I do, I do! But I have to say that it's fairly obvious that if one likens the Earth to a big dog, the dog is flea-infested and beginning to "scratch," in the form of resource shortages, climate change, etc.
If you're a "the world is ending in 2012" sort of person, then the dog may also be seen as scratching in the form of Earth quakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, etc.
Frankly, I believe these natural occurrences are simply a reflection of the time that has passed since the last time -eons ago- that the Earth redefined it's shape, terrain, position, climate, etc. ; a natural progression of natural events.
However, I do believe that we as humans have become quite flea-like, sucking out our nourishment from the planet's life blood. Instead of ranting and raving or jumping up onto my soap box, I'll direct readers - whether republican, conservative, democrat, liberal, independent, green, socialist, communist, etc. - to the Clinton Global Initiative.
Love the ex-president with the roaming libido or hate him, this fellow is doing something about the myriad difficulties facing civilization.
During an interview, Mr. Clinton mentioned that after he faced death and underwent heart surgery - a bypass, as I did - he decided he needed to put his good intentions to work and to practice all that he preaches. I can relate to that yearning, as I felt the same urgent need to matter post-bypass.
The result of Mr. Clinton's personal epiphany is the Clinton Global Initiative. Check it out, I can safely surmise that all will be inspired to step up and help in some way, shape or form!
Mr. Clinton has a refreshing and great deal of hope in the college-aged youth of this nation, and that's reassuring.
Forty years after the first Earth Day, let's all vow to make an improvement.
I also suggest that readers google "vanishing places to visit." There are hundreds of glorious, significant places that are due to vanish relatively soon (as in in our lifetimes, or our children's/grand children's) because of natural changes or pollution. It's astonishing, check it out.
On to the birthday.
If I'm not mistaken, today would have been my father's 80th birthday.
I know that sounds strange, the "if I'm not mistaken," part, but my father died more than 30 years ago.
He was 49. I was days away from 17, a senior in high school.
My father always told us he was born at midnight, so it was more than a bit confusing for a young kid. Did Daddy have two birthdays? Was his birthday the 23rd or the 24th? He didn't mind teasing us or enjoying the "mystery."
I'm reasonably sure he was born in 1930. But again, time does take its toll on facts.
I used to interact with my Dad, fairly often, in dreams. He was always a bit grayer and a bit older than he was at 49. To see him aging was a comfort, even a joy. I looked forward to those dreams, and once inside them, longed to remain.
But he always was aware that he couldn't stay for long. He was always calm, if melancholy, about knowing he'd have to depart. I was always panicked, once he told me he'd have to leave. A reflection of his actual departure. He was asleep, the victim of a heart attack.
I was a just-woken -out-of - a-drunken -stupor teenager, wrapped in a sheet in the wee hours of the morning, faced with the horrible reality of my father's death.
I had last seen my father alive mere hours before. He was working on a carpentry project when I came galloping home from the beginning of a week-end long birthday celebration.
We laughed, hugged, said something to each other (to this day I can't recall what we said), and went our separate ways to our bedrooms.
I never saw him alive again, except in dreams. He never woke up.
Today, gazing out my kitchen window on the new bright green grass and the brilliant sunshine and the budding, flowering, new-leaf covered trees, I imagined celebrating his 80th birthday.
I imagined he'd have soft white hair, as his father did in photos I saw during childhood.
I imagined he'd still have his sharp and numerous wits about him.
I imagined he'd be relaxed and laughing and teasing pretty granddaughters and "horsing around," a favorite term of his - with handsome grandsons.
He'd be teaching the younger boys to count in various languages - French, Italian, German.
He'd be helping my youngest son sketch a rendering of his boy scout project - sketch it, then measure twice, cut once.
He'd be discussing politics and theology and bright futures and a long life with the older grandchildren.
He'd be celebrating with the very occasional martini. Stirred in the large, blown glass pitcher designed and acquired for just that purpose. Every thing had a place and a purpose and beauty.
He loved organization. He loved precision and knowledge. He loved beautiful things; Lennox China, Waterford crystal, a finely crafted piece of furniture, a beautifully bound and written book, well-manicured nails,healthy hair, a stunning sunrise, a stately old tree, a smooth piece of beach glass. He brimmed with and reveled in knowledge - from carpentry to music to literature,languages, mathematics and science, the man was a fountain of knowledge.
In fact, my first lucid thought following his being pronounced dead was "someone has to save his brain, all that knowledge can't be lost."
Any how, I imagine a sunny, breezy day, just as today is here in NEPA.
I see a man in a buttercup yellow cardigan. I can't make out the shirt, and dark greenish cords. His feet are casually adorned with well-worn leather loafers- black, and each with a penny in the slot, and of course, shined to perfection, however worn.
He's sitting in a comfortable lawn chair. The chair is under a shade tree. The sun filters, sparkling, dancing, through its young, spring green leaves.
A procession of children present a glowing birthday cake.
He conducts the chorus of "Happy Birthday" with sweeping, yet precise, gestures. His eyes turn skyward as he ponders a wish to make.
He breathes deeply, with great exaggeration, and whooshes out a sweeping breathe with all his animated mite. The younger boys lend their breath to the effort. He extinguishes all the candles in one attempt!
The gifts come, and he comments gleefully as he opens each one, "Just what I wanted, a box of tissue paper!"
He then curiously, with mock astonishment, discovers the gift beneath the paper. He's delighted, and so are we all, we who have been blessed to witness this merry spectacle for all of our lives.
Oh, if words could make wishes come true, today would be a glorious day!
Happy Birthday, Dad.
P.S. For those who enjoy family history (Happy Belated Birthday, John D.!):
My Dad was named Patrick George. George, I was told was in honor of St.George, who slayed dragons and is said to appear to encourage those in battle. Apparently, my Grandfather, a veteran of World War I, was inspired to rally during a fierce battle by the appearance of St. George, whose feast day is today.
Be well. Be happy. Plant something - a tree, a bush, some flowers.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading about your Dad, Liz. With the way medical technology has advanced these days, he probably had a good chance at being alive at 80. My Dad suffered a mini-stroke at 59, became a diabetic at 74 and is still alive today at 78 thanks to a Cardiologist at NY Cornell Medical Center.

    John D.