This weekend, Emily and I took a trip down to Lexington to visit my parents. Unfortunately, the occasion was Dad, in the hospital, with a new episode in a mysterious series of foot infections which have taken away our favorite activity together: walking.
He continues to get better at what I view as an impressively rapid pace for a 73 year old man. We had a good visit, with lots of hugs, lots of talking, and lots of just being together, knowing that sometimes just being together is the hugest gift we can ask for.
Sunday, Emily and I walked together to the hospital, through the U.K. Arboretum which my parents have supported from its first imaginings. It was a lovely walk past the fallen bur oak, along woodland trail, filled with invasive vines and honeysuckle but also with early spring wildflowers. I allowed Emily, who had earlier carried a vase of home-grown daffodils to Dad, to pick a spring beauty from a yard en route to take to him. In the background of this photo, you can see the building, the hulk of brick which is the hospital.
A few moments later, Dad, formerly president of the neighborhood association, who fought the expansion of this hospital tirelessly, who helped make them plant trees and prevented the loss of several houses, was helped by the physical therapists to walk out of his room, slowly, carefully, perhaps painfully, to the end of the hall. From the window, he peeked around the parking garage and saw the corner of the Arboretum. He knew where he was, then, even when he returned down the fluorescent-lit halls to his mechanical bed. He was *almost* at the Arboretum.
These are hard won battles, then and now, both fighting the hospital's cancerous growth into our neighborhood and fighting his own battle with his own feet, his own immune system. And somehow, despite the fact that neither battle was completely won, I admire him all the more, just for continuing anyway, for each step ahead down that hall, for each tree he could see from his hospital window, for each day we get with him. I'm sure at one time he would have foresworn ever setting foot in that hospital, and yet, in the battle, he made it a better place to be. I hope when I am old and infirm, I can say the same.