This One’s for Ken

One step forward, 18 steps back.  Ken’s about to fly to California for the second time this week because his dad, who’s been fighting cancer for the past year, is quickly declining.  While he was gone earlier this week, my mom fell and broke her hip, which (with its major surgery, rehab and long recovery period) has become its own major production.

One of our surviving sunflowers

Right as this all was happening, the sunflowers that Nico planted earlier this spring started breaking apart and dying.  At first, I thought the kids had nailed them while playing baseball.  But they kept breaking.  Finally, there were 6 or 7 down, their yellow faces splashed against the grass, dying.  For someone who sees symbolism everywhere she looks, it was strangely shocking.  There was nearly half of our garden of 8-foot-tall sunflowers–broken.  Our house of cards, fallen.

Part of me wanted to take pictures of those apocalyptic things so that I’d have a reminder of that strange shock of yellow spread out across the green summer grass.  But another part wanted to focus on the ones that were still living, and growing.

Ken went out and bought some support stakes to keep the rest of the sunflowers from toppling over–a small gesture that encapsulates the kind, thoughtful person he really is.  I’d like to say that we prop each other up just like those sunflower stakes, but the truth is that I’ve got a long way to go.

If there’s anything I’ve learned this past week, it’s the simple reminder that people, not things, are what matter.  If we close ourselves off to love–like I’ve done in way too many stress-related arguments as of late–then what, really, do we have left?

And life goes on.  Up and down, forward and back.  Right now, Nico’s at his first day of Kindergarten, another rite of passage.  For our kids and our spouses and our parents, we continue on, falling over when we must, and holding each other up when we can.

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2 Responses to This One’s for Ken

  1. Julie Poppen August 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    On the bright side, those truly were the biggest sunflowers I’ve ever seen! What’s in your soil, anyway? Lovely post, Tanja. It’s all about the beauty in the moment, and even tipped over sunflowers are beautiful in their own sad way.

  2. Kelly LaValley August 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Heartfelt post, Tanja. Ahhhh sunflower metaphor – sometimes I’m alive and bright, sometimes a weighted heap on the earth. Sending lots of love your way.. healing hug to your mom and thinking of Ken and his dad. xoxo

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