“Nothing is too small. Nothing is too, quote-unquote, ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they’re the things that sustain us. And they’re the things that certainly can become worthy of poetry.” – Rita Dove
We live our days steeped in habits, following routines, checking off lists, getting things done. We feel satisfied but not quite complete. Relationships, thoughts, words, how we give and live each moment completes the whole picture.
April 28th was just another ordinary day. Work travel, quick trip to Boston for a potential client presentation. The night before, my regular goodnight call with Mom and Dad for “small” talk, love you and talk to you on the way back and we’ll see you on Friday. Another ordinary day.
Ten minutes before the flight back from Boston with co-workers/boss/friends, I get the call from my brother John. Dad fell. He’s done that before – broken arm, broken hip. I told him that I would get wireless on the plane and to text updates. A two and half hour flight and I’ll be there. Five minutes before departure the text came in that it was serious. Ten minutes later, the last rights. An hour later, “Dad has passed.” Another ordinary day that is nowhere near ordinary.
As I’ve pondered, wandered, contemplated, laughed, hugged and cried my way through the past 19 days, things that bothered me before don’t mean much anymore. Little things, memories of ordinary days with Dad, Mom, family and friends have amplified. Daily moments keep appearing to remind me of living and loving well.
I keep noticing the “little things,” – the replacement trees that Dad and Mom gave to me to plant some new life after two of my trees fell on my house are hearty and full. Rain, sun, seasons and time have done their job. The recliner in my living room that was “Dad’s” chair.
“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung
When I would leave Mom and Dad’s house on Sunday, I would get the girls in the car, go back in for one more hug and Dad would stand in the door with his hand raised, as I did the same in return until the end of the driveway. The door slowly closed as I glanced left for one more look.
The overwhelming, kind and compassionate support of so many has moved us through these days gently. In cards and conversations, I’ve realized what’s causing the most angst. The suddenness of it all. A fall and four hours later gone.
Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer and Barrett’s Esophagus about four years ago. Each time, we went to the Mayo Clinic every three months, we quietly prepared for the “worst case scenario.” Dad was scheduled to go back to the Mayo Clinic last week for his one year check up. It was the longest time that they gave him since the diagnosis was good. We had prepared for a “long” goodbye, not for a short one.
So as we reluctantly accept our “new normal,” I am vividly reminded that there are no ordinary days and it is the ordinary days that will be remembered and treasured the most.
Absorb, celebrate and appreciate each and every ordinary day. All stringed together they culminate into a beautiful, meaningful, memorable and purposeful life that is filled with sweet memories and depth. Plant and grow many trees in this life, a forest.