Tuesday, January 27, 2009
In all her 74 years, my mother has never paid bills, managed a checking account, or even renewed a license plate. Dad has always taken care of details like that.
Sunday night, Dad asked me to take him to the DMV to renew the plates on Mom's Jeep. He thought he'd sit in a chair while I waited in line and then come to the window when it was his turn.
Monday morning, I took the Jeep to be inspected and came back to get Dad. He couldn't get out of bed. I was more than willing to go, but Mom insisted on doing it herself.
Daddy cried for 45 minutes. "I can't control anything anymore," he said.
"We never can really control anything, Dad."
"But it was better when I believed I could."
I've always liked the image described by the Chinese—the one about living on a dragon's back. If you're aware you're riding a fire-breathing, reckless and powerful beast, you're not surprised when it bucks. If you understand you're at the mercy of forces beyond reckon, you give yourself over to fate. If you never imagine you have it, the loss of control is not devastating.
Maybe I better tell Dad about the dragon.
*The picture is the side of a cut through the Ozark Mountains down near my home town. Looking at the rocks/scales of the dragon, it's easy to believe we're on the back of a beast.