Time is the element that all of us chase, in a vein attempt to capture and control it, as if that is remotely possible. Still we persist, it provides humanity with a buffer from the fragility of our mortal existence. There are moments of time that appear to stretch like maternity skin, some that are suspended encased in resin and still others that accelerate leaving a blur of images and scuffed emotions. I have, of late been practising the art of patience. That has taken more time than I originally thought. Frankly I need more practice.
I note that I was quite willing to wait until my sweet pea seeds sprung from the earth, and for the subsequent leaves and tendrils to snake upwards. I watched as the macramé of knitted strands formed, and did not intervene as each plant desperately clung and strangled the adjacent one in the race to the sunlight. Nature has its own meter, and of late it has been out of sync. Just ask any farmer. It is weeks away from vivid blue, crimson and purple flowers, but I have faith and pesticide.
I am able and skilled in listening to another person’s point of view without interjecting, disconnecting or mentally scribing a grocery list. Most times I thoroughly enjoy human interaction, without the need to frenetically multi-task, though some steps of conversational dance require a buffer to prevent the bat of ‘shut the fuck up’ or ‘ just do it, stop talking about it’. Thank you to all my friends and family who have resisted the swing. Your welcome too. Some of the best advice I have received has been from those that hold no professional degree to give any. I pray that I have lived up to my piece of paper.
Cancer is a time vampire. One moment you have a cape, invincibility and an open road, next minute, you are being stalked by an anxious rabbit with a monocle, surrounded by medical staff with grim statistics and sharp needles and a have a persistent ‘ticktock, ticktock’ in your ear. Fear is like tinnitus with a undisclosed schedule or completion deadline. I practice patience daily, truly I do.
I am recovering from surgery, but it is not happening like in Gray’s Anatomy. Stop groaning, you know you want it to be regardless of your gender. Everyone needs a Dr. McDreamy. Television really doesn’t prepare you for reality, and I realise that is obvious, but neither does Botox prepare you for death. It is all a matter of perspective. So here I am thankful that full arm movements are not required for typing, holding a book, cooking, using the remote, opening the fridge and flushing the loo. You get the idea, I’m not doing a lot.
Convalescence is not at all like long service leave, despite the comments from some time envious folk, but it can be just as extensive. A marathon, not a race. For this I have been sorely ill-equipped, a daughter of an artist, neighbourhood strolls, occasional beach walks and shouting at Packer’s cricket is the extent of my family’s forage into sport. This is apart from a life time of gardening. Not an obvious choice for inclusion into the Wide World of Sports, but approached with the vigour, persistence and achievement of my parents, it should be. In my adult life, I’ve added swimming, a little poorly played tennis, billiards, shouting at the Dockers on the box and gardening. I’m no marathon runner, yet here I am, eight months later, foot pounding the path to recovery.
Due to the incessant drip of consciousness that cancer may be lying in wait to ambush my life again, I have found myself willing my sons into fully developed manhood. This statement may be confusing for some women who may think this an unrealistic goal. It is not, I have seen it, at least a couple of times. My father being one, joining the Abraham Maslow club, actualised at 97. One could argue he has not been time poor, though survival through the Great Depression, World War II, Post Modernism and the Global Financial Crisis, may have taught him that ‘this too will pass’ and ‘best to get on with living’.
The fear of not being able to witness and rejoice in the lives of your family and friends, to assist and to bail them out if necessary and to welcome into the world your grandchildren is the cruelest blow. Before cancer, you had time, after cancer you just may not. Perhaps the five to ten years it will take before my sons are ready to have children, will be too long await for me. I can easily accept the lines on my face and the invisibility of being a fading beauty but to run out of time seems incomprehensible. I sooth my soul by turning up the volume on my IPod and play a favourite Stones classic.
I apologise to my sons and my beloved ones for trying to impart my knowledge all at once, like condensing a literary classic into a comic strip. It is not fair to expect of my sons to be the well informed and matured men of their futures. They are after all Generation Y, and a goodly proportion of those in war free countries are less concerned with policy debates as they are muted by consumerism and self obsession. The opiate has changed, the result is the same. I am not alone in mourning the apparent lack of engagement. Ruddy big problem really and until Internet connectivity is threatened by surging prices or terrorism, I don’t see much traction happening. Time may prove me wrong, and God willing, like other ageing rockers it just might, be on my side.