Communion Of Dreams

…and not to yield.
June 10, 2010, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Babylon 5, Failure, Gardening, J. Michael Straczynski, JMS

“Maybe I’ll always second-guess myself” said the commenter in a thread about care-giving.

* * * * * * *

I looked at the plants. Several were pounded over from storms. A couple looked to have been nibbled to death by a bunny that somehow got inside the deer netting & chicken wire.

Most of the rest looked pretty sad as well. All heirloom tomato plants, from a nursery back East I was used to working with.

“Going to replace them?” asked my wife. We were just coming back from our morning walk around the neighborhood with the dog. I had cut across the back yard to survey the garden, and my wife had joined me. The dog went over and laid down in the shade of one of our big trees.

“Some of them.” I hoped some would still make it, varietals that I still wanted to taste, to look at, to can their many colors and textures. “I’ll get five or six new plants when I run errands this morning.”

* * * * * * *

We watched “P.S. I Love You” last night.

To be honest, I just about gave up on it in the first few minutes. I’m not big on ‘chick-flick’ movies which just go for cheap emotional response with bad acting and dumb situations. And at first, it looked like it was headed that way.

But I stuck it out, enjoyed it. I am a romantic at heart, and I enjoy a movie that is both self-aware and unafraid to be emotional without being manipulative. That’s what it turned out to be, and it was worth the time. Honestly dealing with loss is fine by me – and it is too seldom realistically done in movies. After all, we all face the loss of loved ones, whether we want to admit that to ourselves or not.

* * * * * * *

At the end of one episode of Babylon 5, right as the climax of the story arc regarding the battle between Light and Dark, JMS hearkens back to another heroic figure and has his main character quote the following from “Ulysses”:

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

It’s a fine moment, though I’m not a big fan of Tennyson, and is perfect for the grand scope of the story that Straczynski is telling.

But I prefer a quieter story sometimes. One which is captured in small motions and simple tasks.

* * * * * * *

I selected which of the six tomato plants I would replace, and set one of the new plants next to each of the towers.

I lifted off the tower. With a tug I pulled the plant out of the ground and laid it aside.

Again using the large gardening knife I love so well, I loosened the rest of the dirt in the hole. The sharp smell of the organic fertilizer, now wet and alive, rose up with the heat of the landscape fabric around me. I reached in with my bare hands and scooped out the dirt.

The new plant, larger, healthier, greener than the ones I planted weeks ago, went into the ground. Dirt loosely packed around it. Tower replaced.

I picked up the dying plant. It wasn’t its fault. Sometimes these things just happen.

I moved on to the next one.

* * * * * * *

“I admire your willingness to write this book. My mom died in ’03 and my dad in ’06; I was a secondary caregiver to my mom and a primary caregiver to my dad. I’m still second-guessing myself on “did I do enough?” “did I do the right things?” Maybe I’ll always second-guess myself.”

I replied: “I think that everyone who does that second-guesses themselves, no matter how much they actually do. Writing this book is part of our process for coming to terms with that – our hope is that it will help make the path a little easier for others to walk.”

* * * * * * *

Jim Downey

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