I’m not a patient person. When something doesn’t work, I push buttons rather than thinking things through. I’m not good at waiting for anything or anybody. So, now I’m caught in several “in-between” times of waiting. In the midst of COVID-19 I am waiting for life to return to “normal” again, although it probably never will. And in the midst of COVID comes another wait for the outcome of the November 2020 election. I was horrified and disappointed by the inconclusive first night of the returns. I had been anticipating a Democratic sweep, a repudiation of Trump and his policies. That was not to be, and I am still weeping.
Then yesterday, the morning after election day following a restless night, I got out of bed to discover a sharp pain in my left foot. Thinking it would soon go away, I didn’t pay much attention, but after an attempt at an afternoon walk in my hiking boots, which I thought might be good for this mysterious infliction, the foot hurt even worse. So, this morning I called my podiatrist’s office, waited while someone searched for my records, gave them information that I was sure they must already have, and waited some more, until finally someone was found to see me later this afternoon. I was also waiting to make a third visit to my audiologist’s office, hoping to get the new tubes to my ear molds right after two previous visits had failed to correct the problem. We are also waiting for the real estate closing on a small rental house, which turned out to have some serious problems (a woefully in adequate, below code electrical system; and a broken sewer pipe, the repair of which will require cutting into the street). We did get a break from the seller, but we are still waiting for the official closing.
As I drove to the audiologist this morning, I was wheedled out of my impatience by the sight of the golden cottonwoods and surrounding fields along Rio Grande Boulevard, probably the loveliest street in Albuquerque, over which flew flock after flock of wild ducks. I drove slowly (speed limit is 25) through this little bit of country, a refuge in the midst of urban sprawl, enjoying the variety in styles of housing, ranging from McMansions to simple houses whose original owners once farmed the surrounding fields, to big old estates and horse properties, some which I admired and some which I found tacky, but that was O.K. Room for all, I say. The sun was shining, and the mountains were blue in the distance. I spied a couple seated on a bench in their sunny yard, enjoying the fine autumn weather and looking at Christmas lights they must have just set up.
I thought how good life is, and how beautiful our world. I had read a snatch of something by George Will, saying politics should be at the margins of our lives, not the center, and I thought how this morning’s sunshine on the fields, the mountains, the birds, and the everyday lives of my neighbors is what is real and important. This is the life that goes on, no matter who wins the election.
Then I thought about my foot. I am a walker. If I can’t walk, then what? I thought of Edie Littlefield Sundby, the Mission Walker, who walked the length of California and then the length of Baja, California while battling cancer. Her philosophy was that as long as she could walk, she wasn’t dead. I thought about people who have ordinary accidents, illnesses, and pregnancies and who need medical attention during these times when the resources of our health system and its workers are strained to the utmost. Would I be one of them? Life, death, and love are more important than politics.
Friends have recently lost their spouses. Yesterday I learned of the death of one of my high school classmates who was also the spouse of a classmate. On Election Day I learned he had cancer and was home on hospice care. Then the next day the message came, “He is now with the angels.” We had recently reconnected with this couple, who found each other in their seventies after the deaths of their previous spouses. Like Kent and me, they were enjoying wonderful and unexpected happiness late in life. It was a joy to see their delight in each other, and I hoped we would see them regularly in their trips back and forth across the country and our trips to the Midwest. Now suddenly, within a day of my learning of his illness, he was gone.
As I drove along glorious Rio Grande Boulevard, hoping to get my hearing aid problems straightened out and some answers about the pain in my foot later today, I thought about my friends, and realized that they, my physical well-being, the beauty of the world in its burst of exuberance in face of the death of autumn, are the things that are real, important, and worth treasuring and appreciating. Despite my sadness and impatience, those are the things that matter. As I heard Bishop Curry say this morning, we must love one another and reach out to those who are different and with whom we disagree, not every day, just today.
Postscript: The hearing-aid problems appear to be solved. The podiatrist, after consulting x-rays and looking at my foot, said there was no sign of a fracture (Kent had joked it may have been a stress fracture, caused by my stress over the election), and that it was a matter of an over-stretched band. The cure is rest, ice, and a wrapping contraption to stabilize the foot. I go back in four weeks to see how I’m doing. Let’s hope I will soon be walking (not hobbling), carefully, at first, and that the election, too, will be settled before the first week in December. I’ll try to be patient.
Next morning: The foot still hurts, Biden is gaining in the counts of mail-in ballots, and I am thinking how all of life is really a series of “in-betweens,” some more difficult to weather than others.