The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 24: What Matters Most


June 24, 2020-

This morning, I went to breakfast at one of my favourite counter spots. I had the counter to myself, as the rest of the regulars had shown up earlier than normal. Across the room, at a table, was a couple who were maybe fifteen years my senior. The wife got up to use a restroom, after their meal, but was about to try and walk without her assistive device. Husband quickly called her back and reminded her to use the walker. While she was away, he told me of her struggles. So much was familiar-he could no more leave her than I could have left Penny, during the eight-year joint grappling with PBD. Cognitive decline, in any form,does two things: It reduces a strong, intelligent, independent person to a largely dependent soul. It also shows the true character, and level of fortitude, of that person’s loved ones.

There was a lot that Penny didn’t understand, in her last year or so of this life. She did understand, though, that I was not going away-and that if I was not at the hospital, I was either working or tending to our son’s needs. I got the sense that this couple was operating on the same wavelength.

My closest friends now can expect the same loyalty, albeit without the romance and eternal vows that are particular to wedlock. I spent the afternoon helping one who is arguably my best friend, putting up a shelving unit-which, for reasons I will not belabour, took longer than it might have. We got it done, and it will help her nascent enterprise move to a more solid level.

This was another example of something my fifth grade teacher told us, way back in 1960: Men and women working as a team get more done than two men or two women. That may seem antiquated, but it has been true in my life, for several decades.