Outside in my shorts, sandals, and shirt sleeves. It feels like August in Tahoe, but it's Christmas in Northern San Diego County: San Marcos to be exact. The birds are working with high pitched complaint. In the distance the faint highway sounds of 78 make me wonder if there will ever be a day of perfect natural silence. If so, what disaster will have driven the autos of so cal from the freeways?
It's still, not deep sierra, 3 days of hiking with a backpack still, but natural still none the less. I can hear a papery wind in the eucalyptus trees.. the dark trunk variety, and it's a tropical Christmas.
The puppies are goofing in the side yard. Two sparks of light that drop a plastic fist full of doglogs over the yard every day. It's past noon by a few minutes and I can see the tree shadows change on the lawn. Just a moment's image caught on electronic paper to say it's Christmas.
Flock of pigeons? no ducks? I need binoculars to be sure, but the birds are flying and they are ...ducks... about 40 in tight formation, tight turns and swoops over th the pond, not ready to settle, hard to track with the binoculars. I watch them over Jack's Pond which is hidden down the slope of the hill by a neighbors roof line. Enough of a pond to attract ducks in December. The flock disappears.
Above the pond, in the distance , the largest building to the southeast is Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. I can see it clearly from where I sit.
I can see the top floors of the hospital where Jack died this past July.
How strange that I didn't realise we had this view until after he died. We can see the hospital from the back deck & the upper deck. I can sit in the pool Jack never felt and see the spot where he died. Where we all sat with him as he went.
I wish you were here with us this Christmas, but I think we both knew that your last December was going to be your last Christmas too... It a year plus one day since we sprang you from the nursing home. I remember the joy and fear on your face when Kyle and I got you out of there so you could be home for Christmas.
My brother John and his family will be over soon to celebrate Sunday December 24th. We will laugh and talk and watch the Charger's game on Dad's big set. I've tweaked the Boze speakers and hope the surround works like it should.
Little Jackson will run the yard, float the pirate boat on the still pool, watch the dogs pay, and be in the moment, for the moment.
I've got this day, in this place, with this fine weather and the headspace to enjoy it because I uprooted the old life at Tahoe and threw myself and may family into taking care of my dad for his last year on the planet.
I'm glad we changed our lives and got so much closer to him for those last months. It was a gift to all of us.
And so, here, at the house my dad helped us turn into a home, on the day before Christmas 2006, I look out at the place where you died Jack, and hope you know how much the gifts you've given us count toward making this Christmas one that's felt with the heart more than the wallet.
Dad, you've given me the chance to be mindful of the good things around me. Merry Christmas. I miss you.