Monday, June 22, 2009

"We take what's dished out"

"We take what's dished out."  This is a phrase my dad started saying fairly late in life.  He used it to describe what was happening to him, to my mother and to their health, and the slow but inexorable closing in of life as they both became less able to control the events swirling around them: his first surgery for an aortic aneurysm in his 80s, my mother's decline and admission to a nursing home, his own bodily and mental malfunctions.  He didn't mean it to sound passive.  Rather, he meant that we must find ways to cope with the things life throws at us. 

Three  things juxtaposed themselves oddly this weekend in a way that brought this phrase back to me.   Father's Day, of course---my first without Dad, and Marty far away in America.  A note back from an old friend, who I'd written to congratulate on his 75th birthday, sharing the news that his wife was undergoing the final in a series of chemo treatments for a particularly difficult form of cancer--- "and now we see."    And finally, the discovery that a small jewelry box, containing some  necklaces and a ring that I had given my mother for gifts including  her own 75th birthday, has evidently been stolen sometime in the last couple of weeks.  It might have happened in any of  a number of places--from the airport or airlines to one of the hotels I've stayed in here or in Korea.  Impossible to say.  

Of course my first reaction was a sense of violation, anger at myself for being careless perhaps---and dismay.  Some of the pieces were valuable, but more in the sentimental sense than what it would cost to replace them.  The ring, in particular, I wore often and it gave me a sense of closeness to my mother.  Then I thought of my friend, struggling with the life threatening illness of his spouse, and it put things in more perspective.  After all, it was a ring, not a life.  

In Vipassana, you hear over and over again---and try to absorb--that all things are impermanent. Over a few hours, I began to tell myself a story of the ring and the other jewelry--whether true or not, it really doesn't matter.  These things had a value to me that was mostly sentimental, fending off the sense of impermanence that ultimately dooms us all.  I don't know anything about the person or persons who took the box, or their motives.  I can only hope they really needed the money that these pieces brought them.  I hope that the jewelry paid a doctor for the care of an elderly parent, or tuition for a student, or rent for a down and out relative.  In any event, I must face that they have now passed from my possession as surely as they did from my mother's when she died.  It helps to think they are doing some worldly good.   But even if not--there is the odd comfort of hearing my father's voice:  "we take what's  dished out." 

1 comment:

Basia said...

What a lovely way of looking at it.