My mortality was definitively announced with the full throated cry of a newborn, fully pink and flush from the hard passage, wailing his objection to the eviction and voicing his displeasure at the light, the air, and the awaiting life of toil that began with a life and death struggle for the nipple.
Not a milestone but a tombstone, a definitive thrusting motion off to the side like a large piece of family furniture, suddenly in the way, and now set over in the corner lest someone trip over it or stub a toe.
Live forever! Ride a bike! Avoid the void with fruit, grains, nuts, and complete abjuration of trans-fats, saturated fats, and saturated news cycles and recycled political crises and dilemmas. California! The golden shore! Where death is for other people and mortality only happens in whispers, quickly forgotten or painfully remembered in silence because Pontius Pilates and deep tissue massage and Zumba for the aged will anti-age you or at least make sure that everyone else croaks first.
I pedaled along the bike path with a friend, deeply thankful that my grandson had announced my demise, trying and failing to convey my gratitude which instead sounded like a whine or a sob or a spoiled brat crying “No!”
Not I. Facts for me are things to be seen and understood, never denied or prayed around. In order to die we first have to live. And nothing infuses life like the turning cranks, or as Robert Doty likes to say, “the Church of the Spinning Wheel.” Because along with the announcement that my time was shortening rather more quickly than I’d anticipated, my grandson brought with him a rare gift, and this too I carefully considered as I rode.
No longer the provider, the progenitor, the pater familias, the care for this new life was first and foremost the duty of someone else. Someone else had brought him into the world, had made the solemn contract to clothe, to nourish, to house, to succor, to protect, to guide, to comfort, and to heal.
My grandson brought with him into the world a gift to me, the freedom simply to love, and to love simply.