Monday, November 28, 2011

Kingdom Come - Mavis Gallant

Bumping into Mavis once again. A stirring story. One that within the last couple of seconds, thinking about writing something for this story this story, has caused a flood of thoughts to pass and hopefully will result in a post that is more fitting to what this blog once was. Let’s be honest. I haven’t faithfully discharged my duties on this blog.

Taking stock of one’s life. Is one supposed to do this at my age?

It’s times like this, at 0426 in the morning when I am a little off due to the odd time and a story comes along like this one, where I get a little nervous about my place in this world, and what if anything I will ever amount to and finally, what sort of person will I be remembered as.

I pull back when I should be driving forward. I have the motivation – but then, I stop short. This can only serve to hurt me.

I should be, and it’s true, in some respects, happy with certain aspects of myself and what I have done with my life, but in others…I feel I am lacking.

I need to drive on and to find the motivation in myself to accomplish what it is that I am “here” for.

It’s stating the obvious that I need to be the one that makes this happen. I need to be the one sitting at a table writing. I need to be the one sitting at a table researching. I need to be the one exploring new avenues to enrich myself. I need to do this now.

We visited my father a couple weeks ago. He’s not doing well. His mind is getting worse. The disease is advancing and he is becoming less and less of who he was. We arrived just after dark on a Wednesday evening and as I carried the boy onto their back patio, I could see him through the window in his living room just sort of staring down at the floor. I don’t know if his wife was speaking to him and he was listening…or if he was lost in his head someplace. One evening, during our visit, I sat at a table and watched him struggle at the kitchen sink with the inability to figure out which handle protruding from the counter would cause water to flow from the faucet. I saw the frustration and confusion in his face for what felt to be the longest 8 seconds of my life as I silently coached him towards making the right selection. He walks from room to room not knowing why he walked into that room only to keep walking in hopes of quickly remembering why he walked into that room…so in the end, his journey becomes circular.

My father takes stock of his life often now, and this makes him very angry. He realizes that his mind is dying and that everything he spent his life working towards is vanishing. His friends never call him. His former co-workers never visit or call. It’s almost like he never existed, and he realizes this and it makes him sad.

I remember when he and his wife purchased their house. It was around 1996 and he was very excited that this new house had a room that would be his own office. The house is huge, and he was a little taken aback by the size. Showing me around the place back then, he talked of someday retiring, opening a private practice in the house and describing the set up in such detail as to mention the thought of creating a door that would allow his patients to enter his office directly. He wanted to write a book someday. He wanted me to help him write that book.

And now. All of that is gone. He sits in his office amongst his tall shelves of collected books and art moving one stack of magazines and papers onto the top of more magazines and papers only to move yet another stack of papers onto another stack of papers.

This last visit really caused me to pause and think about my mind and where it will be in 20 years. That’s about how long I have if the disease hits me when it struck him. I picture this giant clock ticking over my head and with each year, the hands move closer to a detonation point.

I feel that I am running out of time. And I am doing nothing to solve this problem.

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