Thursday, 24 March 2016

Spring Tonic

I drove home today from the eye surgery in Palencia with Patrick in the seat next to mine. Patrick's eyes were closed, he couldn't see the greening landscape or the Canaletto clouds. He'd just had cortisone shot into his right eye. He's had several kinds of chemicals shot into his eyes in the last few months. None of them is helping to restore his vision.

The cortisone shots hurt more than the others, I could tell. Paddy is philosophical about his aging body. He doesn't complain very much, but  it is sad, seeing the parts fall slowly off Paddy's fine old machine. He is 75 years old.
Paddy kept his eyes closed, and reached across the gear-shift, and took my hand. He kissed my knuckles.

At home the telephone rang -- Juan Carlos from Astorga, talking about the memorial tree project. The city council says Yes.  Faith in Santiago, with some more good news on the same project. We will plant trees right after Easter, in a park just outside Astorga, to memorialize pilgrims who die on the Way.

The book is finished, it's being shopped around London and the Cotswolds among Paddy's literary friends; it's being read by various and sundry. I sent queries out to a couple of literary agents, but got only immediate, automated rejections. I am letting this process trickle and bubble quietly, just to see if this book is as good as I think it is, if it is good enough to catch the attention of any of the few real human publishing contacts that remain within my purview.

I am translating documents from the FICS conference that happened last weekend in Sarria. I am reflecting on the green spring days I spent walking from Sarria onward to Santiago de Compostela in the company of George Greenia, an august professor of Spain and Spanish things, and a dear old friend. He too is aging. He's retiring this year, he's getting his head around that idea.

We spoke a lot about death and dying, people who'd done it, people who were doing it, what we wanted to happen before and after we die. It was not gruesome or morbid. It was real.

Most of the people I love are a good ten years older than I am, or more. I will probably spend a lot of my life alone, after they all shuffle off this life. If asthma and allergies don't give me the drop on them.

It's fearful stuff. But I am still fit enough to walk 110 kilometers in a few days, and enjoy it. I am sharp enough to translate between two languages, at least in writing. I write very good books, even if agents don't find them worthy of their time, even if I am past the age of rich and famous. I am still well enough to take care of business.

I am important, in small ways, to the running of several enterprises, as well as several hearts. Even with so many flavors of failure and death around me, my life is full of meaning. I am wealthy beyond imagining, at least for now.

I drove into town at sundown to buy eye-drops for Paddy, and some new lettuces. Sahagun is full of people home for the holiday, parking their cars up on the sidewalks, embracing one another in the middle of the street, flinging open the pharmacy door to shout out at a passerby, "Hombre!"  

On the way home the moon rose up in the northeast, a huge orange coin on the horizon. I thought of Kim and Melissa who are making the new San Anton history booklet into a work of art. I thought about Filipe in Belgium and Kathy in California, and the friends in Santiago who took me to lunch, the ones who let me stay at their house, and said they'd send my book manuscript around to their literary friends... I thought of Paddy, whose hands I hold. I thought of my dog Harry, and his dark wet eyes and fat black nose, how much he loves me.  

Like a big fat moon, it all is so temporary. We'll all be gone soon. But it all was so beautiful I just laughed out loud, right there in the car, alone.


Nell Pilgrim said...

"…and despite this nature is never spent" there's some comfort-well of a kind-in this.

Margaret Meredith said...

"When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ..."Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Ryan Reichert said...

I'm glad to hear that even with the less than shiny parts of life that yours is still filled with good. You and Paddy have touched many, and have much love in many corners of the world.

Colin Davies said...

Damn. Couldn't find a typo!

Colin Davies said...

Probably because of the tears in my eyes . . .

Fr. Picx said...

looking forward to seeing both of you once again aug 17 or 18. Amado.

Fr. Picx said...

looking forward to seeing both of you once again aug 17 or 18. Amado.

HeidiL said...

Beautiful blogpost. Thank you for being you!

Anonymous said...

love, love, love,

Love, k

Mary Lynn said...

A wonderful, heartfelt post. Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts about life and beyond.

Lucky Tonmoy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joanne King said...

Hello Rebekah, I came upon your blog yesterday, and have been reading it backwards intermittently for hours. I've been trying to remember if I noticed Moratinos as I walked by there last October. While reading a post just now from about a year ago, where you and Paddy are out walking the dogs, I suddenly had an aha! moment and quickly looked into my photos file. I believe that I met Paddy and the dogs last October! I came upon them one morning after leaving Tempradillo and the sight of them was glorious in the light of the early morning sun. I took half a dozen pictures of them. I stopped to chat and was astonished that the gentleman spoke English. (At the time I thought he must be a retired rock star hiding away from the paparazzi :). It is a lovely memory for me, as so much of the camino in the fall turned out to be.
I'm enjoying reading your blog, it's inspiring and real. When I go back to Spain and the Camino in 2017 for my third walk, I will keep an eye out for Peaceable Kingdom.
All the best,