There is an unusual trait that permeates the members of my maternal grandparents’ generation. Like many of his siblings before him, my grandfather, in essence, pulled his own plug. After suffering a severe stroke that left him bedridden and unable to care for himself, he literally removed his own feeding tube and chose to die. He insisted he knew the consequences of his actions and even removed it a second time after family members had the doc put the tube back in, certain grandpa wasn’t aware of what he was doing.
Thus began his nearly two-week experience of fading out of life; two weeks of working up enough strength to acknowledge visitors, and on rare occasions, interrupting conversations to correct our collective memories.
In my last coherent conversation with Frank he didn’t talk about regrets, loves or sorrows. What was on his mind was much simpler. Out of the silence of his hospice room, he addressed me by name and said, “if I could get out of here, I’d get an ice cold drink straight from the garden hose.”
I think about these final words every time I’m berating myself for not working out enough or keeping up with house chores. I think about them when I find myself subconsciously judging my husband’s commitment to my happiness or over-analyzing relationships with my family and friends. They make me relax when I’m down and fill me with gratitude when I’m up.
They calm my nerves and help me do things I didn’t think I could do. They give me patience in long lines, strength in the presence of two crying babies and motivation to put some sweat equity behind my dreams.
Regardless of the highs and lows, I can always hydrate. And that might be what I most yearn for in the end.
I like to think that, in the end, the wave of my life will be distilled into peacefully recalling exquisitely simple pleasures like enjoying the sweet treat of icy water from the hose on a hot day, when my skin is damp from the heat of the sun and garden soil is stuck under my fingernails.
What simple pleasure inspires you and sets all right in your world?