Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Character of Nature

Upon waking Saturday morning I learned that my Uncle Charles had passed on at 1 AM. He had been struggling with lung cancer for months, so it wasn't unexpected news. I had not seen him since childhood, but it was still very sad to learn of his death. He was only 58, and was a wonderful person.

From childhood, I do remember that he was always smiling and had this energetic twinkle in his eyes. He loved being around people and always kept conversations lively with his unique sense of humor. After a stint in the military, he had settled into a career in the mines. It is very harsh work, hard for me to even imagine, but many of the men here have chosen this path for generations. The shifts are long, and spent thousands of feet underground, toiling by artificial light. The possibility of cave ins or human error causing an accident are always there. On my job, if you are not careful, you can lose data. In his a moment's inattention in the wrong situation could cost your life by electrocution or heavy machinery accidents.

Like so many though, he wanted to provide for his family the best way he could. For his son and wife, he chose this difficult line of work and struggled underground, perhaps wrecking his lungs and contributing to the lung cancer that took his life.

In retirement he was an avid gardener. In harvest season he would load up most of his yield and travel around to neighbors in need with gifts of fresh produce. He especially loved to take care of the elderly I am told. Although I was not there, I imagine these visits involved lots of cheery conversation and that he brightened many lonely days.

I never visited in the hospital, because I think in my current state. Mom's family is very conservative and I would probably have only offended people. I am told though, that he fought hard through his illness, but never complained, and that in the end he had told everyone he was ready and knew it was his time.

It seems so unfair that someone can work so selflessly through life, and keep a smile through almost everything, then be cut down so suddenly.

Thinking about that one life in detail, it seems an incomprehensible tragedy. Then there is Haiti also this week. Many thousands of lives just as special and important suddenly cut short. Children. Fathers. Mothers. Dreams. Ambitions. Smiles. Loves. Gone in an instant. The random nature of it and the scale, it's just more than my mind can grasp.

Saturday was my laser day, and I decided I would go. I never told Mom and Dad where I was going, and let them assume I was going to work. I just did not want to stress them at such a time. The day felt dreary as I kept thinking about how harsh and cruel the world can sometimes seem.

The new laser place though, is in a very pleasant mall, and I had lots of time to look around before the appointment. I fed the ducks playing on the frozen pond, and had a wonderful fish dinner in a charming little restaurant. All around people were smiling, laughing and happy.

After lunch I was sitting on the lip of a fountain, listening to the water cascade across its tiers. Outside the ducks continued to play on the ice in their cute waddling gate. Around me, the shoppers passed in chatty, happy little groups. Sitting there surrounded by so many comforting sights and sounds the world did not seem such a harsh place. Even the feeling of the smooth cold tile under my hands seemed a blessing.

Certainly the world is more than I can understand sometimes, but it not a cold, random godless place. As certainly as it would be impossible for a single cell organism to ever have enough DNA mutations to become a plant by coincidence, much less, a complex creature like those marvelous ducks, this world is governed by a creator, and not by random chance.

I realized, sitting there, that all we can do is relish every simple pleasure, try to have whatever tiny positive impact we can on those around us, and reach for our dreams with the time we have.

To me, those do not seem unfair terms. I'm quite grateful for the opportunity.

As time for my appointment came, I stood and tossed a coin into the fountain. I closed my eyes a moment searching for a wish. Nothing grand in the end. Only that my parents could understand and accept me.

With a new serenity, I set out, reaching again for my dreams.


Leslie Ann said...

Just beautiful, Shan'. Condolences on your uncle. Maybe it's best that your memories of him are limited to your childhood, when he was still healthy and whole.

If you didn't check out the bookstore while you were there, you should next time. Great place to waste a few hours.

chrissie said...

I hope they can too, honey....



Jerica said...

Great post, Shandy. Sometimes it really is just nice to stop and smell the flowers, literally =)

ms.shandy said...

Its not really transition related, but it was very therapeutic, writing it up.

Thanks for reading. Sometimes its jsut nice to have a place ot voice these things and friends to listen. =)