Monday, May 2, 2011

Head in the Clouds

Head in the Clouds, 2011

I went to see my mother at her nursing home the other afternoon and found her more disoriented than she's been in months. She told me that her mother had finally gotten her brother to go to Sunday school, which is remarkable considering that her mother has been dead for almost fifty years and her brother almost ten.

She also told me that someone had called to tell her they wanted her to go on television, on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club, no less. This is impressive because my mother has never wasted a single kind word on Pat Robertson. It’s even more amazing because she doesn't even have a telephone.

I used to be pragmatic about these delusions and try to explain to her why they couldn't be true. But I've learned that it's more calming to go along with her. When she told me that her brother would also be coming to live at this same nursing home, I merely nodded and said I'd keep an eye out for him.

As you get older your mind lets things slip. You worry that getting forgetful about names and times is a sign of advancing senility or worse. Fortunately, some memory loss is normal, or so I keep telling myself. (And what was your name again?)

This past Saturday morning I was out for a walk just after 7:00 a.m. It was a beautifully bright and sunny morning. When it's like this I sometimes take on the manner of a cat, closing my eyes, lifting my chin and pointing my face at the sun. What can I say? When you combine the warmth of the sun, the concentration on maintaining a good walking pace and something engaging on the iPod it's easy to fall into a kind of trance.

Which is apparently what happened to me on Saturday. I was marching intrepidly along, listening to music that I love. I was on a service lane that runs parallel to the main road, straight as an arrow for a mile. My eyes were closed and my face was pointed up to feel the warmth of the sun.

I will stipulate for the record that I was walking in the middle of the lane so that my exposure to the sun wasn't obstructed by the shadows of the three that line it. It’s also possible, because there's a slight slant of the pavement to the right and because my eyes were closed, that I wasn't exactly walking in a straight line.

At a point, I became conscious of the hum of an engine behind me. I jumped from the middle of the lane to the curb. As a young man driving a pickup truck came up beside me I turned and apologized for holding him up.

"Don't worry, man," he said. "I could see you were in some kind of good trance and I wasn't about to disturb you."

At first I thought, I was struck by this kindness. Then I started wondering whether the young man was humoring me the same way I humor my mother when she has her hallucinations. I don't think he was. But just the same, I’ll keep my eyes open now when I walk.

1 comment:

  1. If it had been me in your shoes I'd be telling the ER doc, probably for the third or fourth time, just exactly how it was I walked into a tree, fell into a manhole, wandered off a cliff and/or found myself face to face with a pack of crazed chihuahuas. Glad you only encountered a very mellow young whipper snapper.