“How are you feeling today?”
“Oh, so so. Maybe we could go outside?’ I squatted beside his lounge chair and he reached for my hand. We sat, just so, for a while as he dozed off. Later, when he roused I suggested the walk again.
” Yes, yes, I do want to go out. I don’t think I can walk far.”
“No need, I’ll do the walking and you do the talking! We can use the chair.”
By the time we got to the door he was shaky. The wide granite step was in shade, or “shadow” as he so charmingly says. He sat as I rubbed his back and looked at the sky. “There are no clouds!” he proclaimed. It was true, the sky was azure blue and clear.
I bent to deadhead his wife’s riotous garden. We tried to name every variety and when we got it wrong, she called out from the breakfast table with a correction. I caught him watching me intently. Then a smile broke over his face. “Are you OK?” he asked. I grinned, stood up, and dance a little jig. Being allowed/encouraged to be silly for no reason is a gift. The chickens murmured under the apple tree. They suddenly squawked in protest when a small, hard orb crashed down on them. Newly cut hay was drying in the field. We breathed deeply together.
He dozed again as I continued my light massage; just the act of touching with no plan or remedy for his state calmed me. Slowly he awoke, twinging from a pain I can’t soothe. “There! I see a cloud!” I turned and indeed a bright, white, cotton-puff appeared from behind a massive oak. We watched as it bled itself into streamers and disappeared. Others soon drifted by, high and vaporous; they shape-shifted across the tree-tops.
A jet flew so far above it made no sound. “Where do you think it is going?” I asked.He took a minute then replied, “It doesn’t matter. Those people are seeing the clouds too, but not seeing us.”
Stealing a line from Joni Mitchell:
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all