27 March 2006

Time In a Bottle

On my way to work Saturday night, the ceiling was overcast and gray except for a sliver of sky next to the horizon, perceivable as about an inch of blue.

As the Sun slowly made it's way Westward, it began to transform this piece of sky......
the color was like lava flowing down a volcano at first.....a brilliant red-orange.

Then the Sun itself popped from behind the overcast, and it was too brilliant to look at directly. But I knew I was in for something special once it began to hide behind the edge of the earth.
I also knew the beauty would be fleeting.

Sure enough, as it dipped below the horizon, the sky turned the color of lava once again, only this time the edges of cloud were tinged with a brilliant silvery-yellow hue.
Slowly the underside of the overcast was illuminated, and the entire sky above me turned the color of molten lava. As the Sun continued it's journey, that color changed to purple, then magenta, then reddish-gray, and finally the Sun gave up the stage and dusk prepared the world for the coming darkness.

This whole scenario unfolded in less than ten minutes.
If I could have stopped time.....
captured that moment so I could savor it fully, I would have.

I was in Baltimore, Maryland when I found out my Dad was dying.
The company had purchased a BK117 in Italy and had shipped it to Baltimore. I was there to inspect the aircraft, and finding it as advertised, with the help of a mechanic, mount the main and tail rotors on it and ferry it back to the Midwest.
As luck would have it, the trip took me right over the town where my Dad was hospitalized. I got to stop and see him.

In my 20 years of EMS flying, much medical information has found it's way into this thick skull. From what I had heard I knew Dad was in big trouble.
Dialogue with my sister, Mommanurse , filled in the blanks........
It was just a question of time.
Again, if I could have stopped time right then, I would have.

Dad had been a lifelong smoker. He resented our attempts to get him to quit.
Now his habit had caught up with him.......he tried to put on the "Brave face", but everyone could see through it........he was obviously frightened about what the future held for him. We were all frightened for him.

Over the next months, Sis and I took turns giving Mom as much relief as we could in taking care of Dad. It was a painful process to watch, knowing that he was in pain and uncomfortable, because we knew the next day would only be worse, and the next worse than that. He was on the downhill slide.
I didn't want Dad to die, but I didn't want him suffering, either.

Time, time, time........
It just marches along, oblivious to our wishes.

I'm not old, but I'm no longer young.
Very soon I will be old.

My memories are overwhelmingly good......
I've said before that my life has been blessed......
I've had a Guardian Angel on my shoulder watching out for me, guiding most of my decisions.

But as I age, I find it SO easy to be melancholy.
I see beauty in so many things......Sunsets and Sunrises, family, other relationships.
I'm upset that these moments of beauty slip away so quickly.

Jim Croce wrote "Time In a Bottle", and then his flame went out.
The lyrics to that song are worthy of your attention.
If they don't make you melancholy, you and I are not on the same planet.
Try as hard as we might, we cannot stop time.......the inevitable is just over the horizon.

I don't want to waste these moments........I want to enjoy them to the fullest.

Being melancholy is bittersweet.......
It comes only when we know we are experiencing something beautiful that we want not to end so quickly.

I read this post to Sara Jean and she said, "Gosh Greybeard, you're gonna have everyone depressed and considering suicide!"

I think some men go through their own form of "Change of Life", and maybe that is what I am experiencing when I'm melancholy.
It was not my intent to depress you, but to share my thoughts and see if others have had similar experiences.


John said...

Western culture has a long history of hiding and denying death while worshiping and idealizing youth. You've provided a well-written reminder that none of us is immortal and that life is precious. Acknowledging the reality of one's own death, whenever it might come, can actually be a way of embracing life. While there is a fine line between being a realist and being a pessimist, but you sound more like a realist to me. Not depressing at all ...

Infinitegtr said...

Please let your lovely wife know that there are many young, or youngish, men that rely very heavily on your insight and experience.

Keep it coming, the good, bad, and the ugly.


You tell Sara Jean we're fine. Beautiful piece.

Ferdyflyer said...

GB, what you wrote is beautiful! I love to look at rainbows - not just for a moment - but really look at them. I love looking at the scenery when I go from home to VA. Sometimes it just takes my breath away especially in the spring and fall. The colors are so magnificent. I use to wonder why Mom would sit and just look at me for a while. Now that my children are grown, I know why. That's another instance of when you wish you could make time stand still. Children grow so fast. I just moved my second child out of the nest this past weekend. It was a mixture of feelings. I'm so proud of her for her accomplishments; but so sad to see her leave home. Again, I wish I could make time stand still.

GB, your writing is always so interesting to read. Tell Sara Jean you haven't depressed me. I understand exactly what you're saying.

See you and Sara Jean next month.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog. And to answer your question...yes I am an ER nurse.

Dave Starr said...

No depression here, either GB. As John said we do seem to have a real wrinkle in our culture that attempts to shield us from death by ignoring what lies at the end of every road ... the journey is all we are given and we often don't even treat getting there as "half the fun".

That ancient commercial line ought to date me a bit ... I'm 60 this year which is either still nearly a young pup just entering his prime or damn close to old, depending upon one's perspective.

Too often in this life I watch young(ish), healthy, well-fed folks whine and bitch about the most trivial of adversities and think how sad it is that they are missing the really big picture, while wasting precious minutes. Sometimes I look in the mirror and realize one of those time-squanderers is me. Keep on reminding us,