Growing older

Thanks to Aaron and Hot Toddy (Happy Birthday, Toddy! I fixed the link, too. Sorry!) for the inspiration for this post…

As I have mentioned here before, my family has been working to start the process of moving my parents out of their home. This is the same house that I was born in (well, I was born in a hospital, but I came home to this house. Technicalities. Geez.) and grew up in. The bedroom I had as a child is the same one I sleep in whenever I come to visit. The house has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still the same house. On the same block. In the same neighborhood.

It’s the sad truth that people grow older. The things they love to do every day will get harder and harder for them, and eventually may become impossible. It’s a sobering prospect, especially when they had so much activity in their lives before.

My father loved gardening. He grew rose bushes. We had hundreds of them in the backyard. It was his hobby and, for a long time, his passion. He and my mom belonged to the American Rose Society and would enter their roses in rose shows. I have memories of many a summer where they would pack my sister and I into the station wagon, along with the best specimens from the yard in cooler cases, and we would travel to a suburban shopping mall, where we would spend the day shopping while mom and dad prepared their roses for judging. Sometimes we’d win trophies or plaques, other times not, but my father really enjoyed doing it, and he put a lot of energy into it.

Every year he would buy new rose bushes or bud-graft new plants onto budding stock. He even showed me how to do this, and I would bud my own roses. He kept charts and lists and diagrams of every rose bed in the backyard. He would prune and fertilize, water and spray the roses every week. Cut vases of roses filled the house all summer long. The fragrance of over 200 rose bushes in the backyard was absolutely wonderful, and I will never forget it.

The roses are gone now. My dad is too sick to grow them anymore. We opened up the yard a couple years ago and people dug out what they wanted and took them to their own gardens. There’s nothing but empty beds where the roses once grew. The backyard, like my father, is a shadow of its former self.

My mom used to be a nurse at the hospital I was born at. She loved her job, because she worked with babies in the maternity ward. I remember many a time when we would stop by to visit her and she would let us peek in the nursery window to see the little tiny babies sleeping. When we were older, we’d visit her and see her at work, feeding and burping these little tiny beings.

But mom got sick, too, and developed emphysema after years of suffering from athsma (and years of smoking before I was born) in addition to myriad other health issues. She had to retire early. Thankfully, she still lives her life as much as she can, but she can never regain those days. The hospital is gone now, too. Replaced by a newer facility.

Time marches on really quickly.

As we are getting the house ready (which could take a couple of years), mom is finding all kinds of stuff hidden in corners and such. And the pictures… lord the pictures… tons of them, in various conditions or states of disrepair. Mom gave me a few pictures of her as a child that had been tattered and torn and nearly ruined. Being that I am pretty handy with Photoshop, she asked me to try and retouch and repair these photos. Well needless to say, she was quite surprised… and so was I… by the results. I never realized I could do this stuff so well.

Mom as a Baby
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This was the first one. Lots of creases and folds.. and the border was shot. I’m amazed at how clear the result is. Isn’t she just adorable? I think this was in her grandma’s backyard.

Mom and her Cousins
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This one was much harder. For some reason, my mom cut herself out of the picture (see lower left.) Mom did this to a lot of pictures of herself over the years. She never liked having her picture taken. In this picture, it’s probably because she had a brace on her left leg because she suffered from Legg Perthes disease as a child. At any rate, mom found both parts of the picture and wanted me to see what I could do with it. It was HARD, let me tell you. But I am really happy with the turnout. This is especially poignant because of the three cousins, all sisters, the one my mom was closest to, Jeanne, directly to my mom’s left, passed away a few years ago. So it was a very special project.

Memories are incredibly rich, and we are wealthy as long as we treasure them. -Me.

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A Super Man

No sooner than I had clicked “Publish” on the above post, I learned that Christopher Reeve had died. Truly, the man was a superhero in every sense of the word. His advocacy for spnial cord and stem cell research, which I wholly support, was brave and strong, even when he physically wasn’t. He proved to me that no man, no matter how broken or embattled, could ever be stopped by physical means. His legacy will live on, I hope, for many years. Having parents that could be helped by stem cell research, I certainly hope that his words and his advocacy never die in vain. He certainly hasn’t.

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2 thoughts on “Growing older

  1. Wow Rick…what a tribute! You’re a wonderful son, and you did a loving and beautiful job on the pictures. Your mom must be thrilled. Not just for the pictures, but for having raised such an awesome person as yourself. I can only hope my kids turn out as great as you have.

    I was saddened to hear of Christopher’s passing. Oddly enough, “SUPERMAN” was my very first in-flight movie. Ironic. Rest well, Christopher.

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