|Rosa 'The Shropshire Lad' 31 August 2023|
People will tell you, “Everybody dies,” or “We are all going to die.”
I find that those who say this are not aware of its immediacy when one is an old man. I, am that old man.
In the 52 years that I lived with my Rosemary we never
discussed death. We had too many obligations and activities that kept us away
from the existential conflict with death that I am experiencing now. We experience lots of mutual pleasure and fun.
Living alone with two cats, I have a lot more time to think and, particularly before sleep, when I wake up two or three times during the night.
It was about a year before Rosemary died that I brought up the initials WTD (waiting to die). Perhaps I should have been a tad more kind and modifying that to PTD (preparing to die).
Yesterday was my birthday and my intelligent (particularly
in financial matters) older daughter Alexandra (Ale pronounced Ahleh) and I
spent time yesterday and this morning with her explaining to her idiot father what compound interest is all about.
And so, when Ale left for her home in Lillooet at noon today, I can state that my life (what’s left of it) is in order.
When I came to my home I fed my cats and then retired to my bed with them.These days I do a lot of that. I am overcoming little by little that Roman Catholic guilt I used to have about feeling bad doing nothing.
My existential conundrum of the moment is that I feel bad about the fact that I don’t have to do anything. I might scan some plants, write blogs and clean house. Ultimately there is nothing that I absolutely have to do except to take my wellness pills (prescribed by my wellness daughter Hilary) and feed my cats.
But I have time to think. I believe is good. I know that many of the writing inspiration that Jorge Luís Borges had happened in his bathtub.
The idea for this more positive section of this blog (below) is attached to the nice word bountiful. Yesterday I noticed that my prolific English Rose, Rosa ‘The Shropshire Lad’ was in bloom (many). Also out was my lovely red rose, English Rose. Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’; the yellow R.‘Betsy Sinclair and R. ‘Zepheryn Druhin’ were clamouring for my attention. This last old rose is a reluctant bloomer. Its claim to fame is that it is always the last rose in any rose catalogue because of the most important Z.
I do not believe in ghosts. But in these almost three years since my Rosemary died I have coined the expression “her absent presence”. In that vein I could imagine her telling me, “Alex, happy birthday. Here are my roses wishing you one.”
As I scanned the roses thinking of her I could not place one of the remaining “The Shropshire Lad”. I came up with the idea that I did not want to leave it out so I scanned it all alone. One of the unusual features of R. ‘The Shropshire Lad’ is its new-growth reddish leaves seen here.
And I smiled even though I was sad.
And of course I have to thank my daughter Alexandra for helping to put what is left of my life in order.