Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tale of two cities

I have officially been in Portland for week and I couldn't be happier. At one point last week I had to find a packed box marked sweaters and find one of my favorite wool wears to curl up in due to the fall-like temperatures. Yes, I know some of you are gagging, but I am in love with the green, lush wonderland that I have found myself. My hair is jubilant. There is approximately zero humidity here which allows for some very nice frizz- free days. I also love the eclectic mix of the people who reside here, regardless if you are a hipster or a yuppie people are stinkin' happy. Everyone I walk past on the street says hello and smiles. People are emphatic about exercise, bikes, and going green. All things which I embrace. Perhaps one of the highlights of my week was going to brunch at a local establishment called Besaws. They had the most amazing rhubarb reduction champagne cocktail. They were so great I had two. I then had a chance to wander the one and only -Portland Farmer's Market. If you would have seen me I literally look like I a kid in a candy store. The sheer volume of fruits and vegetables that surrounded me was astounding. Yet, they don't just dabble in legumes and baked deliciousness, oh no, they have wine tasting as well.

Yet, as much happiness as I have felt this week the sadness and pain in my heart is hard to forget. As many of you know my father is gravely ill, and is on home hospice back home in Pendleton. I can honestly say one of the hardest things I have ever done is leaving my father in a hospital bed and boarding a plane and moving 2000 miles away. I will never for as long as I live the conversation we had before I left, perhaps not for its brevity, but for its depth. He said he wanted me to the live the life that he had dreamed for me, and by all the power in me I will do my best. You see I have never witnessed something so horrible and awful as my father's disease process. The way it has taken the man who I thought was invincible, and has made him an emaciated skeleton of a man I once knew. Yet, out of all my tears and heartache I have found something that is beautiful. Something that will continue to change and shape the person I am for years to come- Love.

The love that my father and I share is something so indescribable something that surpasses words, that I need say nothing more and I know in my heart -I will always know his love. Yet, perhaps I have been more touched by the love that others have shown my family. The constant flow of people in and out of my home. The friend who dropped everything to come to Oregon and help me move. The friend who drove me to my house to go to the hospital with my dad, while we both cried in silence in the car. The phone calls and texts. The cards and meals that have magically appeared as if a magician had pulled them from a hat. Friends of my dad who spend the night at my house every night so my dad will never be alone. The homemade strawberry ice cream that appeared and filled the antique bowls of my house. This is the love that changes people. The love that fills your soul even when your gas gauge is on empty. This kind of love never fails.

Thus, Charles Dickens was right:" It has been the best of times and the worst of times" While I don't know if I will ever understand the timing or answer to the question why, I do believe that my father continues to teach me an ever important lesson. Life is not a matter of acquiring things, or a score board; life is all about the relationships you build, and the love that surrounds you.