He walks out the front door every afternoon. His body is dignified in the way he moves. His dark, close set eyes are focused with determination, as he carefully makes each step down from the front door. He grips the black, cast iron railing, the way he used to hold his tennis racquet in preparation for a powerful serve.
Before the strike of terminal illness, my dad didn’t sit – he could do everything faster and with more coordination than anyone else: running, biking, shooting hoops, and playing catch. Gradually that changed. He was forced to slow down and each step in itself became a challenge. As a recent college graduate, I had moved to Portland to spend time with my family. I admire the courage he showed in the face of great difficulty.
I follow along behind him, just the two of us, making our way past the railings that anchor our journey. The sun is at its brightest, directly overhead. We sit on the smooth, ceramic bench, with the coral cushion beneath us. The bench feels sturdy and strong. We are grounded and safe, side by side.
There is silence before the small, tube-like sprinklers with edges of corrugated plastic rise in unison, evenly spaced throughout the yard. We made it just in time. With a rush, water bursts forth from the tiny hole atop each sprinkler and forms a strong mist that fans out in all directions. On a timer, the sprinklers were consistent. The routine brought comfort and familiarity.
A smile of delight appears on his face as he motions with a steady hand towards the radiance born when water and sunlight collide. Side by side, we watch the moments of our lives, held in water droplets, as they dance through the air. Each one flies up in firework fashion, and then falls gracefully to the grass to make room for the next. A Quaking Aspen stands tall in the background with leaves fluttering in the breeze against a brilliant blue sky.
I watched as he appreciated this moment as if it were his first and his last all at the same time. He was captivated by the wonder of something so simple that, under other circumstances, we would not consider stopping to observe. Today sunlight hitting water is a reminder that life is as extraordinary as we allow it to be.
~Written in August 2012