It’s four o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon in September. At least I know what month it is.
My calendar tells me I am in South Africa. I am there for three weeks. I arrived a few days early to acclimatize. On Sept.5 I gave a talk during a Parkinson’s Awareness Conference. Then we set out to walk on the Cape Camino. I am due home Sept. 28.
Obviously this didn’t happen. Covid 19 arrived in Pandemic style and flipped the world around.
As we had planned to be away, there was nothing on the calendar. A perfect time to travel stateside. Charlie had a dream trip of several sites in Colorado to visit. We kicked around the idea of when we should go..
Then we heard the news. My brother Tom had a pancreatic embolism and was critically ill in the hospital. It would good to check in on him. Although he was sick enough, and his body kept throwing more and more at him, he was determined to get better. For him, it was going to mean starting over, at the 0 mile marker and fighting every inch along the way.
Dooly was ready to roll. Food and clothes packed in, the odometer set back to 0, we were off to Loveland via stops in Idaho, Utah and then to Colorado. In Colorado we spent a bit of quality time at The Colorado National Monument, The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Manatou Springs, The Garden of the Gods, Rocky Mountain National Park. Then it was to Loveland where my big brother Tom (2nd of my three brothers) and his wife Laurie built a home a few years back.
On that Tuesday in September, we drove to Denver to visit my friend Wayne, the beat nick poet. We topic hopped around a hundred subjects. It was new for him to have visitors in his home. We were the first non-family folks to visit since the pandemic began. I wonder if he has gotten to milepost one yet.
I had made a point of looking up people with Parkinsons in the places we visit. Prior to Wayne, I had seen the Poetry Girls and Cidney. ..AND some of the Davis Phinney staff! Each time I have made effort to reach out, even if it has been out of the way or an inconvenient time, I have been rewarded with gifts of immeasurable value. Words and smiles and socially distant hugs…and a rock from Wayne.
In all these parks Charlie and I visited there were steep cliffs, deep canyons. In the past I have been afraid of heights, or rather, afraid of falling. I walked to the edges and looked out AND DOWN!
Standing on the precipice
I leaned to see just where the edge would take me
The wind came up, I closed my eyes
I heard a shout and to my surprise
A hand reached out and pulled me back to safety
What’s a hand, what’s a dream
Who can say what it means
When everything that you know
Don’t look back, the spirits cry
Just be glad to be alive
Everything that you love is right here
Everything that you love:
Life feels smaller than this stone
Worn smooth inside my palm
I keep it like a charm inside my pocket
I keep thinking I’ll flame out
Leave no one with a doubt
That I was meant to fire like a rocket
What’s a stone, what’s a flame
There’s always someone else to blame
When everything that you know disappears
Don’t look back the spirits cry
Just be glad to be alive
Everything that you need is right here
Everything that you need:.
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Not time for my end, so I move along towards mile marker one, where the journey takes a turn and we take the new road.
The rock, Wayne gave me. I looked at it and I saw one face and a thousand faces. They called me … And I knew I had to go and find the million year old rock that had snuggled next to it, on the shore of the place when Wayne picked it up, from his place of pilgrimage.
Exit 0 is behind. Mile marker one is still ahead. It will be a long journey just to get to mile one.