Monday, August 13, 2012

Pansy Tulip Rose

Its been a long couple of weeks or years or something. I'm losing track of time, of people, of meaning. This is the litany of the dead.

In East Germany, Tulip's father carved a merry-go-round horse of ice and pulled it with the cow for his children to ride, but the Russians showed up and her family had to flee over the frozen river with all they could carry in a wagon. She was so hungry she ate mud. She finally made it to the states, but even with Alzheimer's, she couldn't forget the Russian soldiers and secured her door with gnarled fingers -- twisting and untwisting the lock day and night.

"I'm tired," Pansy said. "I don't want to live any more," in her sheer, Parkinsonian whisper. "You're a good girl," she said to me as we talked about her dying, her wish to be relieved from what her body, her life, had become. That I did not intervene, did not push food, water, medicine or hope, was my gift to her. It is the best I can do in the yawning gap between life and not life.

I went to Tulip's funeral and cried all the way to Damascus and Boring and back. For all of them. For all of them to come.

I'm tired.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


Today we went to the Molalla River. I know that may sound like a normal day, but living in the city, it is no longer a part of my day to day life to head up the Applegate and hang out. I hardly knew what to do, what to pack. Around here, there are parks, no dogs allowed. There are scenic theme parks like Multnomah Falls, and the sheer numbers of people, the queuing strategies: stand in this line, follow this rope, stay on this side, it is hardly relaxing. The Molalla isn't like that. Nobody really cares what you do, and from the general absence of litter and unpleasant behavior on the hottest weekend in years, it seems to be a pretty much self-regulating place. Kurt couldn't exactly remember where the place was, but between him and gps, we found our way. Nicole came along. Out of practice, we didn't bring chairs, but had the dog's sleeping bag that we keep in the back of the truck. We are so accustomed to the "no dogs" mentality, we left the boys home. They would have had a great time, and will when we go again.

The water was warmish, not bathwater, but it took no getting used to, and there was enough current to make me swim. I wore a bathing suit for the first time in years. It felt so good to be in real water with rocks between my toes and sun on my face. I lived in and on rivers my whole life. I am a river girl. I don't like lakes, don't trust the sludge on the bottom not to conceal glass. A flowing river is a self-cleansing organism. The swimming hole was deep, with smooth rocks on the far side to lay out on another day.