What Would You Save?

While my heart breaks for all who have had such terrible experiences with Hurricane Harvey and now Hurricane Irma, I try to think what that would be like if it happened here in good old Exeter, NH. Disasters such as these make us all think what/who would be the most important to save.

When the Crankee Yankee and I lived in an apartment complex in Manchester, NH, there was an emergency evacuation and all of us had to get out quickly; we were told that there was a possible fire. Alarms went off, police and firefighters screeched into the parking lot, and we were told to get out and fast.

I remember glancing around at things; my jewelry box that housed my grandmother’s amethyst ring and other treasures. There were scrapbooks, important papers, clothing, books, knick-knacks and do-dads I treasured. But nothing seemed as important as getting our cat, *Blackie, into her carrier, grabbing our house keys and running out into the parking lot.

Everyone else seemed to be of the same mind; people and pets came first. We all stood there, watching the firemen check out each floor. Finally, we were told that there was no fire and that we could return to our apartments. Both of us looked at all that we owned, and had a real “ah ha!” moment: most things can be replaced, but lives cannot.

I have things that I cherish and would hate to lose. It isn’t the value of them that matters; most are just of sentimental value. But the older I get, the more I want to pare down. I find myself wanting to give away as much as I can and gift people I care for with things I have loved but now want to pass on.

All who have been displaced from their homes and communities because of the hurricanes are on my heart and in my mind. I can’t imagine what it is like to leave all you know behind in order to save your life. Most things can be replaced, but people and pets can’t be.

Even those irreplaceable things can dwell easily in our hearts and memories; even though we have lost them, they are still part of our lives. We can always take our memories with us. The one positive thing that disasters such as these hurricanes teach us is that they force us to see what really matters.

I would far rather mourn the loss of a few doodads than people or pets.

*Back then, believe it or not, we were a one cat family.

 

 

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What We Cherish

 

If you were an English major in college as I was, you will no doubt remember T.S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock.” The lines that I always remember are these:

“I grow old … I grow old …

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.”

It is long poem, and each time I read it, it makes more sense to me as I too am growing old. In having my dad living with us I am acutely aware of how things change. After an exhausting trip to the doctor yesterday, Dad is still recovering.

The things I take for granted; knowing that the nurse will have to take my blood pressure, ask me questions, go through my medications list, and so on—it is agony for me to have my Dad go through this. Each minute saps his energy, and I wish, not for the first time, that there was a faster way to handle all this.

My wonderful PA, knowing that Dad is quite deaf even though he has hearing aids; looks him in the eye and speaks directly to him. She gives him his dignity, and time to speak. She understands how tiring this is for him, and she asks him questions kindly. In this way, they build a rapport that satisfies them both.

We leave, knowing that we will have help with Dad that may make this time in his life easier. I ask him is he is ok with all this, and he says he is. I tell him that he is in charge; that things can be done for him, but not to him. He agrees.

By the time we get home, he is nearly asleep on his feet; those feet which in earlier years could traipse through woods and fields, ski like an angel carving a path down mountains, and dance for hours with my mother.

But this is now, and he is 92 years old. This is the time when we step in to make whatever time he has left good, loving and meaningful. I know that this wonderful and sweet time is precious.

While this is a bittersweet time, I cherish it.