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Al Martinez... On Everything Else: When the Light Begins to Dim
September 5, 2013 -
I was walking through our garden Sunday evening just as the light of the day was beginning to fade. There was an orange glow to the western sky and the diagonals of sunlight that had streamed through the branches of the oak tree only a few minutes earlier were fading.
I say walking through the garden but it was more an old mans shuffle, a stride brought to slow motion by Gods mighty hand. Age was partially responsible for the muted pace, sure. Hell, Im 84-years-old and cant keep dancing and jump-roping forever.
Time whispers, pace yourself, and age says, Easy does it, on these occasional walks through what largely, maybe even totally, is Cinellis garden.
When we moved here 40 years ago it was a dumping ground, an acre of land dying from abuse and disuse. But she planted a garden and brought it to life until it is a landscape of beauty where peace lives and serenity abides.
I followed her pathways Sunday evening and ended up resting on one of the benches near the bridge I had Barry, the local woodworker, build for her over a creek that dissects our property. I sat there thinking about, well, me, and admitting to myself that it wasnt just age that was slowing me down.
I was diagnosed with heart disease 25 years ago, had a double bypass and later an aortic valve replacement, and sent on my way. Walk, the cardiologist said, exercise, he said, lose weight, he said, easy on the martinis, he said.
I followed a lot of his advice but then, about five years ago, I ended up with COPD, a lung disease that involves both chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Its progressive, the pulmonologist said, which was another way of telling me that it is going to get worse and there is no cure. So why in the hell was I doing all of that exercising to save my heart only to have my lungs betray me?
What is this, some kind of celestial game? Me versus me in a casino of clouds and stars?
I became angry all over again at the cruel patterns of diminishing energy that had slowed me to an awkward shuffle, clenching and unclenching my fists as though preparing to smash someone in the face for humbling me on such a vibrant twilight.
But there was no enemy here, only time and the garden, and neither of them had conspired to transpose a sprint into a jog and a jog into a walk and a walk into a shuffle. I would make my way through what remains of my days with the physiology left to me for one more walk down a flowered pathway and one more view of a sunset gone to night.
I will applaud the sunset but welcome the twilight too as another element of a life fully lived, both in chromatic glory and muted grays. Then I will return to the house, mix a martini and toast the gentle darkness on this warm and compelling summer night.
Check out Als Blog every Wednesday: blog.aarp.org; also at LA Observed every Friday: http://www.laobserved.com/; and view his personal Blog any time: http://almartinez.org; and monthly at topangamessenger.com.