Thursday, October 26, 2006

"the best moment of my life..."


The best moment of my life--and I suspect of yours--isn't strictly a moment. It's an accumulation of them, a light that flashes brighter and brighter until it blinds you with its beauty.

It also can't last; and like autumn or first love or a sunrise, that evanescence is no small part of its magic.

This week on Dilbert blog, Scott Adams wrote about the return of his voice after disease had robbed him of it for eighteen months. It was, he said, the best moment of his life. But it wasn't one moment. It was the all the moments and all the years when he had taken the wonders of speaking for granted. And it was also the months when he had gone without it. It was a moment of culmination, and it was amazingly, preciously temporary. Scott couldn't be sure how long he would have the use of his voice, but he knew one thing: it wasn't forever.

For me, there have been a lot of best moments. The moments when babies were born. When love was incited as quickly and mysteriously as tossed match, the moments when shadowy stories that had lingered in my subconscious for months or years finally took on solidity. But Scott's story made me think of another kind of moment.

It was this time of year, late autumn, post harvest, the time of shortening days and increasing chill, and my father was dying. He had been in a coma for two weeks the night I found myself alone with him in his hospital room.

As I did every night, I talked to him. I told him the old stories that bound us together. They seemed incredibly few and thin. The night we snuck out together to buy a puppy after my mother forbid it. The Saturday afternoons when he took me out for chocolate milkshakes. The beach we went to when I was little, and how he always made us walk for miles, until we had escaped the crowds found a place of solitude where we could hear nothing but the sound of the surf. Yes, they seemed few and thin, but they were anything but.

I also told him that I loved him. But on this night, he opened his eyes and spoke in a tremulous voice. "I love you, too."

I picked up the phone and called my mother.

"Someone wants to talk to you," I said. And when I handed her the phone, my father said, "Hi honey," like he had done every night when he came in from work.

But this time we all were weeping. This time we finally understood that we'd been imperviously living the happiest moment of our lives for decades.

Two weeks later my father died, but the bliss of that moment remains. And the truth of it.


Darlene said...

Priceless...that is what stories like these are :)

Thank you for sharing

XO Darlene

Sustenance Scout said...

My dad always walked in the door and gave my mom a hug. He ran a U-Haul business while my mom ran a household of eleven kids. Needless to say, she was exhausted by the time he came home, and I could see her--and my dad--touch base and gather strength to finish the day within that brief embrace each evening. What a gift they gave their watchful daughter in those best moments.

You're a gem, Patry. Thanks.

rdl said...

Oh my, you blew me away again!!

Anonymous said...
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MB said...

Oh, Patry.

Anonymous said...

Oh, goodness, that one took my breath away. Your memories and perspective are beautiful.

Thank you for sharing those moments of your life with us.


Shannon Hopkins said...

Prickles behind my eyes. Thank you for the beauty here.

Patry Francis said...

Dar: Thank you!

Karen: And now you're passing on the gift. Thank you.

r: Thanks, sister.

mb: Oh is good.

c: Seems like we've all had these experiences.

ceanandjen: thank you and welcome to my blog!

tarakuanyin: And thank you, too.

(Looks like I could have expressed all these comments in two words. Truly, I appreciate all of you. But you know that...)

Sky said...

oh patry....this is especially poignant for me right now. i think you understand. thank you for this very beautiful post. :)

Anonymous said...

I love Patry, beautiful memory and moment...xoxo

Anonymous said...

What a poignantly beautiful memory. I'm glad you and your family have that moment to hold, Patry.
Going to bed now, counting my blessings (as I always should, but too often forget). Thanks for reminding me.

Daisy Lupin said...

That was a beautiful gentle memory, how lovely for you to have that to remember your father by.

Yes join in my Ghost story circle. I am telling more about it my next post.

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Yes, that's exactly right, Patry, that building up of moments. My family used to sit together and read aloud when I was growing up, sharing stories and books. Looking back, I realize what a precious give of their time my parents gave us. Thank you for sharing your story and your own time!

Anonymous said...

That is an amazing story ... weighty, deep, moving and a glorious, triumphant moment. You have told it with such grace.

The Curmudgeon said...

Very. very. true.

Patry Francis said...

sky: Thinking of you a lot these days.

patricia, dahling! I've missed you so. Will have to follow your link and see where you're writing these days. And thank you for your lovely words.

tinker: I don't go to bed counting nearly enough either. Thanks for stopping by to read about my moment.

daisy: I've bookmarked you to read this afternoon when I have time. Thanks for the reminder!

sharon: No wonder you became a writer--and a wonderful mom yourself.

becca: Applies to your comment, too. Spoken with grace. I thank you for it.

curmudgeon: I love it when you agree. Then again, I also love it when you don't...

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Patry.


Anonymous said...

And by retelling that story or thinking about it, you get to relive that moment over and over --so it is a moment that never really ends...

NoVA Dad said...

Absolutely wonderful. I know well the feeling of thinking that the stories you have are thin; when my paternal grandfather passed away several years ago as a result of cancer, I had -- a month or so before he had died -- come up to visit with him for three days. We did a lot of talking, and he did a lot of resting as well, but the time was quite important. The last words he said to me when I had to leave -- and I knew it was the last time that I would see him -- were "I love you, too." I was horribly upset at the time, but your story reminds me of how wonderful that moment really was. Thank you so much for sharing it.

- Matt

Patry Francis said...

Thank you, Tish.

Neil: Who would we be without our stories?

Matt: Thank you for sharing the story about your grandfather. You're right. You were so blessed to have that time--both of you.

gulnaz said...

god that struck a chord deep deep within!!!

thank you for sharing! kisses!

Dale said...

Lovely. Thank you.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh pf. Thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Your post has me close to tears. I lost my Dad seven years ago this same month. I miss him still.. so very much.

Patry Francis said...

It is nice to think of the three of you reading this. Thank you.

coll: It was six for me. The missing is a good thing, don't you think?

Mary said...

What a gift. Thank you, Patry.

Anonymous said...

That's an awesome story. Blessed is the everyday.

robin andrea said...

I'm late to this post, and I am sorry about that. You capture the essence of what a moment is, and the gathering of them in life.

I wrote a poem about my father's passing, and this post reminds me of it. The last lines were:

he looked deeply at me
held my hand one last time
and managed to mouth the words
"I love you"
without making a sound.

Patry Francis said...

Mary: Always happy to see your bonnet here.

Pearl: "Blessed is the everyday" What beautiful words.

robin: Your poem made me think of the many people in the World Trade Centers who called their families or friends to deliver the same final message: I love you. To end with that, to have those words be the summation of your life--maybe that's what it means to go to heaven.

leslee said...

What is it that Dale leaves? (o) Very touched by this.

Patry Francis said...

leslee: Thank you for Dale's (o).

floots said...

heart-wrenching and beautiful
helped me visit some moments of my own
thank you

Patry Francis said...

floots: As you have often done for me.
p.s. glad to see you back.

liz elayne lamoreux said...

(so i am whispering here...thank you for sharing this. thank you. i want to say so much more...but thank you is all i have.)

paris parfait said...

Your post is beautiful and your story brought tears to my eyes. I am a Scott Adams fan too. (And I'm behind reading your blog and commenting - even though I'm home, I have one of my classmates from Seville visiting, so I'm being tour guide this week. One of these days I'll get organised and caught up. Thanks for your nice comments recently).

Kerstin said...

You have the rare gift of bringing beauty to any situation that you write about. It's like being presented with a black & white picture into which you breathe color, sometimes subtle and soft, other times very bright and cheerful.

Like Paris I am catching up on my blog reading, glad I did. Thank you for your all your nice comments on my blog, too, despite my silence :)

Patry Francis said...

liz elayne: Thank you, too, sweetie!

paris: I've enjoyed traveling vicariously through you!

kirsten: Your post about "hearing a song" is still with me. Thank you for your words and your presence. Someday we WILL have tea in the Woodstar.