Yes, I’ll Take You Hiking

November 29, 2014

Home after a long visit with family in Pleasanton.. a visit that was both wonderful and difficult. Difficult because my beloved Uncle Vic (92) is not doing well and was not able to sit up and enjoy the evening.. instead we visited with him bedside as he drifted in and out of sleep. Wonderful because when he was awake, he was 100% there, if tired, and we shared lots of great stories and memories. Throughout the evening we all got lots of time with him, sometimes alone, sometime in pairs, sometimes there were five of us around his bed laughing and talking.

Outside his room, he heard a festive holiday gathering, piano music, lots of talking. I’m sure it was all familiar and comfortable, even if he wasn’t in the thick of it. He’s in his home and staying there. He was surrounded by people who love him. That is the best.

Nobody really knows what to expect here; he’s definitely slowing down, having fewer good days than bad days. But most of the time he’s up and managing–as recently as earlier today–not walking so much anymore, not always feeling great, but sitting up, reading, going to dialysis. He’s got each and every one of his many marbles which is of course a blessing, but it also means he’s totally aware of what’s happening to him which may make his situation and limitations harder to bear.

I think, for the most part, I deal rationally with matters of aging. I’ve felt pretty resolved about growing older and about people passing away when their time comes. I feel like, at nearly 59, I’ve learned a thing or two and have a certain kind of wisdom about a lot of things, including death. On the other hand, It could be that I am just totally removed and out of touch, that certain things are just so far out of my realm of experience, it’s easy to be detached and brave. I’m not entirely sure because I also know that my emotional self is sometimes buried beneath so many layers of protection that I’m not really sure what I’m feeling.

And… I really don’t want to go into all that right now.


Except to say that driving home, sitting in the backseat looking at the moon behind storm clouds, and thinking of the countless trips to the mountains with my uncle, I lost it. I haven’t cried like that for many people in my life and it caught me by surprise.

He’d said something to me tonight that was really touching. He said that he’d love me to take a little part of him with me when I hike. He loves that I hike, that Jim, Peter and I spend so much of our time in the Sierra, that I share his passion for the mountains. He loves the idea that on some spiritual level, he can keep hiking. I just love this idea, it gives me the greatest peace. I will most definitely carry him along as I hike, because he loved it too, because he and grandpa are the exact reasons I developed a love for the mountains. He had tears streaming down his face when he said that, and so did I.

Feeling sad.

Here’s a picture of him tonight:


Matty on one side, mom on the other. That’s a big smile on his face.

You know, my uncle was with my parents when they eloped to Las Vegas. My mom tells a story about him walking her around and around outside, nervous, as she began to have second thoughts about marrying my dad. (With good reason. Subject for another time.) He lived with my parents during their first few months (or year) of marriage. I’ll dig out and post one of my favorite pictures of my uncle holding me when I was about two.. I have so many great memories of him.

But it’s 1:00am, I’m wiped out. Will come back with more stories and pictures later. Here’s one of his books. He’s the junior.

Native Trees

One Response to “Yes, I’ll Take You Hiking”

  1. What a touching recounting. He sounds pretty wonderful. Glad you had your sobs and tears.

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