“I slept so much better last night,” Dad crowed, reporting how much softer his mattress felt now that it was flipped over. I quietly asked Mom if she had noticed a difference, too, and she slightly shook her head no. Whether placebo or fact, I felt glad his sleep had been more comfortable, devoid of aching hips and nightmares. What would an 87-year-old have nightmares about? Answer: dreams of walking effortlessly to any destination he desires, and then waking up paralyzed. The waking is the nightmare. He grunts and he groans, but he rarely complains, and he keeps fighting for his best life. With Dad awake, showered, and breakfasted, the time had come for Mom’s requested Mother’s Day gift: an outing in the faithful Suburban to the forgotten little town of Copperton, located 20 miles straight west of us. Dad and I did not even know it existed. “This is very educational,” he opined. Copperton lies hidden behind a sandy bluff at the foot of the world’s biggest strip mine, the Bigham Canyon Mine, boasts about six gridded blocks, houses 829 inhabitants, and was founded by Utah Copper in 1926 as a model subsidized town for Mine employees. Mom and Dad grew up in the shadow of the Mine, and Dad postponed his education to work for Kennecott prior to university study and missionary service. He labored at two grueling tasks, the first shoveling up ore that had sloshed out of house-sized steel tumblers, tossing the escaped ore back in, and the second keeping free of obstruction sluices conveying rushing liquified ore. The tumblers destroyed his hearing. The sluices swept away lives as well as ore, lives of men trying to clear mine beams and fence posts and boulders from the flumes and instead getting swept away and drowned and crushed by the rushing rock. He risked limb and life for his education, for his mission, for his future. But in Copperton, all those agonies were 70 years past. Today, in the Mighty V8, we crawled past well-maintained century-old brick and stucco houses with steep Scandinavian gables and porticoed porches, neat little lawns and rose bushes, and friendly old-timers returning our waves. Mom loves roses, especially yellow roses. She instructed Dad to buy no more than a single yellow rose, but I bought her a dozen-cluster of miniature yellow rosebuds, ready to burst. She set the vase on the fireplace hearth where she could see the roses all the long lazy days. Washing dishes that evening, I watched through the kitchen window a scarlet-headed house finch perched on a lilac twig, tearing at the tiny purple petals one at a time, as in a game of She loves me—She loves me not—She loves me.
Tag Archives: Roses
Courage at Twilight: And They’re Out!
Three weeks is a long time to wear a shower cap and to slather your scalp with Vaseline. And those three weeks are over. The nurse Blanca praised Dad’s head as she bent over him to cut and gently pull each black stitch—“Your head is healing beautifully!”—which Dad said did not hurt except when the stitch was glued to a wisp of white hair, and then he grimaced, as anyone would to have hairs plucked out from healing scar tissue. The relief of a stitch-less head counterbalanced the strain of the trek. Dad and I conversed on the drive home about Joe Rantz and his gold-medal eight-man rowing crew in the 1936 Olympic Games, who mastered themselves and their sport and found their gold-medal “swing,” and George Pocock, mentor and craftsman, builder of their sixty-foot-long cedarwood shell with its signature two-inch camber and gleaming shellac sheen, George who taught Joe about balance and harmony and teamwork and especially about trust, trust in his crew. And they out-rowed the Third Reich across the finish line and into history. And after pushing Dad in his wheelchair into the house, I pruned the rose bushes, just as Dad taught me five decades ago, snipping just above each bud, knowing last fall’s scraggle would now be this spring’s flourishing.
(Image by ❤ Monika 💚 💚 Schröder ❤ from Pixabay.)