Sunday, November 4, 2007


Today we were up in St. Maries visiting my aunt and uncle and family. They are very elderly, and I'm always afraid that this visit will be the last one. I had a long talk with my uncle about his life. He's been a farmer and a logger most of his life. He told me lots of hunting, fishing, and logging stories. It's about a life that is so far removed from my own, a different world, a separate universe, and he gave me a glimpse into it. It's a world I recognize and appreciate, because I grew up in it. But I have this sense of loss and awe. I see my history slowly fade away in his arthritic knees, his failing hearing, and bent frame.

My aunt made me her famous Miami Birthday Cake, which is so bad for you, that you know it's going to taste so good! And it did, because it never disappoints. I love her dearly. She has this smile and twinkle that has never faded, and she can call me Johnny, and I won't object. She has some heart problems and osteoporosis. Both she and my uncle are slowing down. They complain about aches and pains, but they never complain about life.

My cousin was there with her husband. She had a stroke seven years ago, and has lost a lot of mobility. She relearned how to talk, and she adjusted from an extremely busy life, to one of more limited horizons and constraints. She's a very wise woman who fiercely loves her family, and she has a husband who cares for her in every way that he can. It's a touching love story.

I'm surrounded by this tapestry of blood, determination, pain, love, and hope. My hope is that as I embark on my own retirement, and confront my own aging and decline, that I can do it with the equanimity and openess of heart of these loggers, teachers, steamfitters, and clerks that are my kin family. They don't love me for who I am or what I do, They simply love me, and that's a gift wrung from toil in these Palouse Hills and mountains. I guess that's why I keep coming back home.