On Seizing the Day

by cheri block

I sit in a hard plastic lounge chair  reading Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day but find myself distracted by the enormous cactus  growing out of the red rock that lines my mother’s Arizona patio home.  Its ribbed arms, protected by rows of needles lined up tactically in the best of Army formations, remind me of the emotional pain I could inflict on myself, lest I succumb to sentimentality.

A lone bunny with a white cotton tail hops into the scene and sits up on her haunches, transporting me  to more carefree times on the same patio when both of my parents were alive and vital.

The cactus and the bunny witness two quail race by, the female ahead of the male, his black feathered plume bobbing mechanically up and down.

On the patio of my mother’s desert home–her retreat from the isolation she must have felt at times in Sacramento after my father’s death and after her bout with meningitis–she could grasp at independence, albeit with her cochlear implant, walker, and adult three-wheeled bicycle.

Today, surrounded by  thorns, bunnies, and quail, my head chases my heart away in a zen effort to enjoy the moment.

Still, the memories invade. How do I seize the day here in the Land of the Sun when hers are now in assisted living?

I redirect my thoughts and realize that they are mine, not hers.

For she continues to inspire us all like a dazzling diamond worn in the tiara of a Bedouin desert princess.

About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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15 Responses to On Seizing the Day

  1. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    Your reminisces transported me back onto the same patio in Arizona with your mother and father, and hence onto a myriad of other adventures with them throughout a great part of our lives. Yet she is a “diamond tiara princess ” in whatever venue she is placed. Life may give us heavy burdens, but it has no control over our precious memories.

  2. Very nice! Yesterday some people came out to plant a memorial tree at the farm and read this poem afterward–your post reminded me of the sentiments. Even though your mom is still around, it’s not a bad way to think about relationships:

    You can shed tears that she is gone
    Or you can smile because she has lived.
    You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
    Or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.
    Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
    Or you can be full of the love that you shared.
    You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
    Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
    You can remember her and only that she’s gone
    Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
    You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
    Or you can do what she’d want—Smile, open your eyes, love and go on……

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for taking the time to send this poem along. And yes!! It has the essence of going on and living life because, as trite as it may sound, Life is For the Living.

      I’d like to inquire about how to plant a tree in your grove for my dear friend Joe, who died last year.

      Please send me the information.

  3. Richard says:

    Even Joan’s photograph inspires.

  4. Don says:

    These are rough transitions. I moved my dad into assisted living early last year, and today he is in hospital with little expectation of going back. The changes are sudden and rapid and tend to go to both better and worse. I am mostly comforted that he is facing the increasing probability of death not with fear but just a sort of sentimentality over there being so little of life left. I hope your mother, and all people who face it, know in their hearts there’s really nothing to dread.

    And yeah, on being at the house. I think I’m lucky that all the homes with any memories in them have gone by the way.

    • Cheri says:

      Hi Don,
      Sorry to learn about your dad and his circumstances.
      Last week in my class we each had to go around the table and share how we think we would face death. Most people were not afraid of death but rather, of the dying process.
      My best to you and your family.

  5. Rosemary Feeley Foreman says:

    Oh, your photo tells it all….she is a HUGE inspiration to everyone who has ever known her!! ..your mom has been a vibrant whippersnapper of life….her glow of happiness I have envied..we just don’t have that gentle, vibrant, sweet spirit in my family….the 46 years I’ve known her, I’ve been awe struck….(and that boxing video I have showed to so many people)!!! But it takes a village to raise kids, and it takes a village to care for our elders..I know you kids have all rallied in amazing ways to care for, and honor and respect, Joan!!!

    • Cheri says:

      If my photo tells it all, I am thrilled. Isn’t that what photos are supposed to do? That photo was taken at Steve’s son’s wedding in Santa Rosa last month. We had her all dolled up. We spun her wheelchair around the dance floor.
      It does take a village to care for elders. I wonder about only children and how they do it…
      Thanks for reading and commenting on Joan’s amazing attitude.

  6. In her wheel chair Queen Joan looks like she is riding the royal carriage. Do like her, don’t give up.

  7. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    I keep returning to that photograph Cheri, Isn’t she beautiful?

  8. Cheri says:

    Yes! She has always been beautiful, inside and out. Like YOU!

  9. Kayti Rasmussen says:

    How sweet you are! Look in your mirror, and the mirror of your heart—you are just like her.

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