Sunday 21 November 2010

Lost and Found

For a few years now, my father has been sent voluntary social workers, who kindly lend their time to helping father 'get around'. I remember the first gentleman; he was Buddhist, and spent much time discussing Pema Chodron and mindfulness in between demonstrating the art of filling a cup of tea with boiling water, without burning one's fingers. Difficult art when you can't see. Then there was a lovely lady who had just returned from Bali, on a silent yoga retreat. She discussed yoga nidra, which father is now entirely adept at. But it is Helena, the most recent of helpers, who has really changed the world outside the doorstep from Out There in the Darkness to Adventureland!

So despite it being November and misty and the walk a carpet of sodden leaves, my father has been taking to long, long walks Out There. And returning home, tired and unscathed. Then yesterday... past the first bridge, the round ball on the end of his white cane snagged in one of the hedges, and Dad lost his concentration. Scratching about, examining the sharp exposed point, he was interrupted by a female voice who floated into his space, retrieved the renegade object and fixed it back onto the cane. Et la, on he went. Next, some oddly shaped object in his way; he found he could lift it up, and so he flung it away. Then there were cats eyes and metal posts. (Well, someone sauntered up and told him so. "Sorry mate. Road works here.") And on past the second bridge where my father, unphased, decides to investigate the open gravel courtyard of the Great Shelford church. Something large and metal in his way again. A car? Out of the silent church, but now where? The curb is too wide. Can't be the pavement. A man appears. He directs my father back to the church and disappears. Just at Hope Cottage where the red phone box stands, my father is accosted by two young, well-spoken police officers. "Er... excuse me, but.. er, where exactly do you wish to go?" Father, at his most urbane, simply replies, "Oh I'll be making my way home soon enough." But The Police insist they deposit the wandering soul to his doorstep immediately. "Please, don't trouble yourselves," says Dr Tayabali, polite as ever, a touch amused. Really rather wishing to get back to his walk.
They escorted him home. I wish I'd seen my mother's face when she answered the door! But she recovered very quickly and of course, as is her style, invited the police in for a cup of tea.

Dad reckons he mistook the road for the pavement. The easiest thing in the world to do. They feel the same to one's feet. The road away from and to home is a series of obstacles and requires much concentration. Much like life really. Sometimes it seems easy enough to prepare and equip oneself for the unknown. And sometimes, not.


Ruth said...

I did not know your father is blind. Many times in my life I have imagined myself blind. I closed my eyes all the way home from school, to see if I could make it there. I cheated on certain corners and peeked.

We had a friend who became quite famous for songs and concerts who came and played piano in our house when I was young. He was blind. Once when he was holding his infant son, and they were leaving, he nearly walked off the front porch, the side without stairs! My dad grabbed him and that baby, saving them from a fall. It was an unusual moment, because usually he remembered the terrain. Later they made a film about him, and I'll never forget, in fact I think of it almost every time I pour my morning coffee, how he poured his coffee, feeling the level in the cup with his left fingers.

I really like it when you write about your dad, and your gracious mom.

Jeanne-ming Brantingham said...

Dear One,
I am sitting in the Taipei airline lounge reading this with tears streaming down my face. I can see your Papa on the unseen road feeling his way home. I too have been on an unseen road all month, and finally am "feeling my way home"

I am always so touched by the graciousness of your parents....and of course you and your words.


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