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Nov 20

Chronicle from the Old Folks’ Home—Part 10

In Brief—Bay reflects on the past weeks in the warehouse where he lives. This time it’s different.


Cranial Pinball Machine and Random Thoughts—

Sign (head-on)The fog of depression over the election results lifted to reveal the trees standing naked, with sparkling snow having nudged autumn’s oranges and golds aside. By the time this column makes its appearance, winter’s snow will have spread a thicker blanket on the ground.

Though it arrived a bit late, the train all of us are on stopped to let two of us off at their destinations. One empty room has been filled with another passenger who will join us on our journey.  Another room waits for a new occupant. More gray hair.

Gray hair fills these rooms, these halls, so I was jolted to see dark hair on a girl of about eight passing me in the corridor. “Hey,” we both said. Without another word she continued down the hall to visit her grandmother. This warehouse is filled with gray hair.

Messages from distant friends bring me news of other lives, other activity, other places. Recipes for cherry tomatoes and brie [Oh, God, I miss the taste of cherry tomatoes!] remind me of the past. I savor those recipes. At first, it was torture to watch others eat, and I would absent myself. Now I try not to think of the tastes as I’m fed through a tube. We don’t appreciate how our social life is enhanced by eating.

Close-by friends send me comedy, issues of justice gone astray, films and photos. They stir my synapses and, as anticipated by sensitive friends, give me reason to face another day here in the warehouse.

Other valued correspondents share their thoughts on the screwed-up politics of the day. It gives me a chance to reveal my skepticism and cynicism about what I see in the media. The media are designed to attract eyeballs to keep those profits rolling in. Journalists are just humans with the same biases we all have. It pays to remember that their paychecks are signed by the elite who own the media. We all believe what we want to believe. Are friends just allowing me to be me, cynicism and all?

Like a well running dry, my blog motivation seems at times to be drying up only to return with gifts that propel me forward. Sometimes two or three gifts; sometimes the well is dry. I wonder if an empty bucket is the future. Will I be like those people who sit and stare, lost in their own world?

Gifts from a dear friend feed my reading addiction. I read voraciously, non-fiction, fiction. The eyesight is fading now, my world is a bit dim, so the reading is becoming a bit manic. Just one more book! One more after that! Will an operation at my age arrest that dimming or is the future dark?

I realize people in the outside world have other interests, other experiences, other talents. They think in ways that are different. We are all unique. When I’m being mellow I say “Thank heavens.” On occasion my baser side emerges: “Some folks are three bricks shy of a load.” Never make the mistake of believing someone else thinks as you do. If you do, that’s a big mistake. The election results clearly show that.

My train ticket destination is written in invisible ink. Most are the same. Since this is my first time waiting for the conductor to announce my destination, I shouldn’t be surprised. Awareness of our respective destinations would devastate most ticket-holders. Not me. I would be reassured. The train moves on. The waiting continues. What does the future hold?

10 comments

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  1. Jim Newton

    Holy cow my friend, these are dark thoughts. We are so far apart and in different worlds, literally, and I wish I could sit with you and see your face and hear your voice, not just read your words. I hope some of these thoughts are triggered by the madness gripping the US and will gradually recede. And at the same age I know that some are just the acknowledgement that our days are numbered. I’m thinking of you and wishing you peace my brother.

    1. Don Bay

      No doubt some of these thoughts are a result of the election from Hell, but most of them relate to my situation. If you were to see me today rather than the last time we sat together you would see how Father Time has struck me hard with his mighty stick. This is what I see in my mirror every day. So what’s new!?

      Every human on Earth ages and fades away, but it’s my first time. It doesn’t help me to reflect on the fact that I’m just one person in a very long line. For what it’s worth, the last time we sat together lives in my memory and warms my heart.

  2. Dave Meyers

    The future is NOT the goal.
    Remember…… it’s the journey, not the destination.
    There is but one final stop for us all on your metaphorical train.
    So, raise as much Hell as you can along the way.

    1. Don Bay

      My journey has been rich and full, in part thanks to you, and the destination nears…not fast enough for me, but it’s in the fog not too far away. I wish I had raised a bit more Hell but as the Zen masters say, “What is, is.” My Hell-raising days are past. Thanks for adding richness to my life.

  3. Kitty Courcier

    Dear Don, as usual you are thoughtful, truthful and brave in sharing your thoughts. I too wish I could see you again. Retell some ole stories from the LA days. Others as life moved on. Memory can be delicious….

    David’s daughter Micah now lives in Santa Monica. We went down for a visit and took in the museums and went up to the Observatory in Griffith Park. Great view of the city. Leaving the Observatory we drove through Ferndell. What a lovely park and recreation area that is for L.A. When we turned from Los Feliz Blvd. onto Western Ave. we stopped at a light before crossing Franklin Ave. I spotted the apartment building you and Jane lived in. A flood of memory came over me. Memory lost in a busy full life. Walks into Ferndale and around the corner to 31 Flavors. Trips to the beach and plays at the Dorothy Chandler. Jimmy coming up from Pendelton to visit. Kathy’s summer stays. Dinners at the Meyers. The challenge you presented to me to look at life through a different lens.

    I have know you over 40 years and you have been present in my thoughts many many times. And as usual your sharing of this passage of your life is reflective of what we may all face on that train ride into the future.

    Thank you Don,
    Kitty

    1. Don Bay

      Dearest Kitty, thanks for sharing those memories with me. Ah, those were the days! I remember the Observatory and my visits there with Kathy, the pony rides and the miniature train. Fern Dell and ice cream and all of us younger and more carefree than we would be as the years raced by bringing experiences, both joyful and painful. Thanks for all the memories that are now part of me…and of you…of all of us.

      Now, it’s gray hair and disabilities as I sit on the train, but the memories are there to warm and, yes, to haunt me. I’m sure your memories will live in your head, too, as our train carries us to our destinations. Thank you Kitty!

  4. Donna

    Dear Don, and you are dear to Roger and me – I am sorry that you don’t fully recognize the special gifts that you have. Yes, you have lost a lot of your strength and ability to walk, and to swallow – but you still have that wonderful brain and ability to write and express yourself. You also have a group of family and friends that love you.

    Living in a care facility must be difficult; do you ever get outside and go somewhere? Does Ewa and your dog ever visit?

    Sweden’s dark nights this time of year would be hard for me – it’s dark enough here in Pocatello. However, people are already starting to put up their Christmas lights, which are really enhanced by that darkness. I am guessing that Sweden also has many holiday lights that twinkle in the darkness.

    On this Thanksgiving Day, I realize that both Roger and I have much to be thankful for, and good health is one of them. So, I try to understand just how difficult it must be to have more fragile health. But we are just a step away from sharing a situation such as yours. I am not yet ready to have the conductor announce my destination, but you have helped me recognize my denial that my journey must eventually end.

    I am so glad that we re-connected at our HHS 50th reunion! I feel I missed a lot of important years in between. However, I’ve treasured your friendship and writings ever since. Roger has also come to appreciate you and your wisdom and humor. I wish we could just be there to give you a great big hug! But, it’s not meant to be. You’ll just have to accept this virtual hug and kisses instead. XOXOXO
    Donna

    1. Don Bay

      Dear Donna, I genuinely appreciate the concern you and Roger have for me. There are so many people who don’t have the advantages I have living in a place like this. Yes, I refer to it as a warehouse—a warehouse for the old—and it is the future, but it is a comfortable warehouse.

      Ewa and Millie visit me regularly. Ewa does so many things for me that I am unable to do for myself. She is not only the love of my life, the mother of two of my wonderful children and a talented person but she is my strong right arm and an ongoing stimulus for my brain. Friends, both here and abroad, feed me in so many ways that I am lucky that they are in my life. All that said, I have to admit that I’ll be glad to hear the conductor call my destination.

      It’s both an honor and an outlet for me to be able to stimulate others with my little blog and my messages…or at least to be allowed to be myself and to bloviate. I recognize that my views may not be in the mainstream but they are the product of thought, logic, evolution and my belief that it’s essential to avoid undercutting my credibility.

      You have been and remain an inspiration for me. With Roger, you live the best of your faith. Along with many others, I am the beneficiary. Thanks for being in my life…and I’ll take those hugs!

  5. Linda

    My dear Don, I read this blog just last night and I had a conversation with myself about it until I fell asleep. Tonight, I read it again. You know what I love about it? The title, “Cranial Pinball Machine and Random Thoughts.” I absolutely love it because I can relate to it and I it gives me a visual image of what happens to you as you are writing.

    That was me last night as I pondered what I was going to write tonight. The difference is probably that my pinball doesn’t bounce off those freakin’ flaps racking up points as thoughts connect like yours most certainly does. I can hear the sound of the rapid “ding-ding-ding” of your random thoughts connecting at lightening speed as my ball quietly slips through and drops into the no return slot as I twist my body hoping it helps save it. But of course, it doesn’t. “Cranial Pinball Machine and Random Thoughts.” How great is that? Really.

    I can hardly get past the title. But I did. You moved me. Your observations are so eloquently written: intimate, honest. It feels like life. It feels real. Thank you for this. Love you.

    1. Don Bay

      I have plenty of time to cogitate what I am going to write. You don’t. I’m aware that the title is important to attract readers (Ah, writers!), but one problem is that I have lined-up pieces so far ahead that they may be out-of-date by the time they appear. Fortunately, I can amend pieces…if I remember to change them. Another problem is that there are spells when I run dry and can’t think of anything to write. I’m gettin’ old, Jake (Thanks, Gary Larson).

      Thanks for writing, for being my friend and for the strokes. Fingers crossed that I can keep moving you…and that I keep moving.

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