Despite my antipathy for the city, I do end up there now and then. And then is now. We are in Victoria for Sal’s mom’s 85th birthday. My wonderful son and his equally wonderful partner are also here and so we get to enjoy two visits for the price of one drive.
And yes, we bring the dogs.
On the face of it we are just doing what families do. Visit. Eat. Leave. Hugs sprinkled liberally. A few laughs. But, in truth, we are primarily, if not unconsciously, marking time. This visit is yet another milestone.
I don’t mean ‘keeping time’ or ‘suffering’ time but I do mean, literally, marking time. Keeping track. My son is a bit older. His partner is a bit older. Their dog is a bit older. And, of course, we are all marking the progress of time for each other. It is normal.
But it becomes a smidge more poignant an exercise when you are celebrating some of the higher numbered birthdays. Sal’s mom is the younger parent. Her dad is pushing 90.
Marking time with them is a bit different.
Now, don’t get me wrong – those two old sticks are as vibrant and as full of life as ever. It wasn’t two years ago the six of us were in Guatemala drinking Margaritas and driving about in a Land Rover. Causing trouble. We were never mistaken for revolutionaries but we got around.
Life not only goes on, it hasn’t let up. We are all good to go to Mexico next winter.
But, at the same time, there is a realization that 90 year-olds don’t gad about quite as much. The action part of their movie will settle down some. Soon. And they feel the need to talk about it. And so we do.
Talking about movies ending isn’t something we normally do. That conversation is still relatively new. We may be talking about getting older now and then but being old is a new conversation for all of us. It feels a bit odd sometimes. “So, I wonder which of you will want my collection of silver spoons, eh?”
It won’t be me. Our age (Sal and I are in our 60’s) is one of non-acquisition for the most part. We are no longer adding to the ‘stuff’ even if we are not yet at the stage of discarding it. The silver spoons will have to skip a generation, I guess.
But I bring this all up because, even though we mark time all the time, we only notice we are doing so once in awhile. And I am noticing it quite a bit on this trip. That is what makes it a milestone.
My daughter-in-law (a nurse) added to the process. “One of my patients is dying. She’s your doppelganger, a veritable copy of you. Even says similar phrases, uses similar sentence structure ,has the same sense of humour. It’s weird”.
“How old is she?”
” ‘Bout five years younger than you. But she has lived a lot and we talk about life and stuff. Kinda like you.”
Living off the grid is for me just a stage in my life. I know that. But it is a new and adventurous one. Full of promise, full of tomorrows, full of future. I tend to see our life stages like that. Sal and I have done a lot and intend to do a lot still. But this trip is a bit different. This trip suggests that the stages are not limitless. There are only so many. I have been brought up a bit short by this visit. We are on a highway that is about to end.
And I guess we are just seeing the signposts up ahead.