Last night, as I looked out into the dark, the house on the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean shook as a storm raged outside. In darkness, howling wind flailed against buildings and fences. Hail and rain pummeled roof and windows and beat a frantic rhythm on the garden deck. By-and-by, the deafening noise abated as the storm passed, leaving dense rain clouds in the night sky.
Carefully listening over noisy morning showers, I heard the newspaper slap against the steep, wet concrete drive. As the paper skidded to rest under the car, water began to wick up through minute holes in its plastic cover. I crammed my feet into rubber clogs and hurried out to retrieve the local news before the paper became soaked, and then rushed to get back inside the house before my coffee cooled.
Six days a week, this activity serves as my warmup routine for the daily walk necessary to preserve a semblance of muscle tone and remind old bones that their job is to hold me upright – all day long.
On Mondays when there is no paper, I lounge in my easy chair holding a really hot cup of coffee. I wonder if blowing to cool it counts as exercise. I’ve come to the conclusion that it does if I say it does.
Victorious, with paper in hand, I stopped inside the door, kicked off clogs and slid into slippers. A glance downward showed two inches of damp hemline around the bottom of my long robe. Clearly evident were soaking wet dinner-plate-sized knee marks made by paying homage to the paper person with the wicked throwing arm.
Hurriedly, I changed robes and all but trotted to my waiting chair, coffee and paper. Aahh. Day started. Officially. On time. Slurrrp. Sounds of the Pacific Ocean made perfect background music.
Front page news above the fold was a mix of stories, one uplifting and one sad. Below the fold, I learned a possible Federal Government shutdown worked its way toward probable. Two days before my Social Security check was to be deposited to my bank account. This would not be good.
And so I settled in for my morning read. A positive story, then came negative, then positive. Lots of news. Skipped lightly over sports. Read patient advice for sometimes silly questions. Ignored implications in my horoscope. Read the comics and got a couple or three really good laughs. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my empty coffee cup on the side table and looked forward to another cup with breakfast.
At last, I turned the page and saw your photo at the top. In the obits. Oh, no!
I closed my eyes and leaned hard against the back of my chair.
Of course, I knew you weren’t well. And that you hadn’t been well for a very long time. But, that’s not the point. The last time we talked, we argued. It wasn’t a serious argument. It was stupid, as most arguments seem to be. But nevertheless, in the coffee shop, the air that crossed the table between us bristled with raised voices and harsh words.
That afternoon I watched you stomp off toward your car. Your parting shot lingered in the air behind you. “You’ll see I am right.”
At the time, I told myself, “He just wants to go smoke his pipe.” But, I knew then I was wrong. And now you are gone. Forever. Well, at least you had the last word. I know I will miss you.
From the bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I send you this wish. May You Rest in Peace.