Things change. That’s why they invented the eraser. For nearly three months I have felt like a golf ball bouncing around in a tiled shower. I had a bad flu that lasted for several weeks. I was pretty darn sick. For two days, I couldn’t rise up from my lounge chair. I was too weak. It was necessary to slither onto the floor and use a foot stool to stand up.
When I informed my daughter Lisa of my condition, she paused for a moment and then said, “The time has come, Dad. I live five hours from you and can’t look out for you if you need help. You are going to be 79 in a few months; it’s time for you to move closer to me.”
I have lived in Cambria for 30 years. There has not been even a billionth of a second where I have entertained the idea of moving from this piece of paradise. But it looks like I will be moving back to Orange County so that Lisa could care for me if I needed the attention. I just gagged a bit even writing that last sentence.
This bouncing golf-ball phase began as I (and Lisa) began thinking of the options available. As time went on, I began to feel more and more comfortable as we sifted through the choices. But then around 4 each morning, my defenses were down and I began sorting through one “What if?” after another.
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First things first: My home needs some minor repairs, and I decided to have the place painted before putting it on the market. My contractor declared that this project might take six months. First item to work on was to clean out my garage and discard most of the stuff in there: a collection of “things” I have saved for more than 50 years. I rented a dumpster about the size of Rhode Island and began the task of sorting and discarding.
I was aware that I had little time to continue producing a weekly column in The Cambrian, as I have for around 20 years. I informed my editor, Bert Etling, of that fact. He kindly approved my providing a monthly column until I finally leave town. Today is the first monthly column.
I am reluctant to leave what has been my home for all these years. There will be no more delightful sights and sounds emanating from Strawberry Canyon. I will no longer drive down to Moonstone Beach with a cinnamon roll and a kuppa kawfee, seeking inspiration for yet another column as the sun disappears beyond the horizon. I will no longer savor watching sets of waves coming ashore as I play back the mental tape of the nearly countless waves I have body surfed in my life.
I attended the Coast Union graduation ceremony June 1. My eyes were warm and misty for most of the two hours I sat in the gym bleachers. Writing about CU’s academic and athletic achievements has been an absolute joy. Getting to know many of the students over the decades has been like watching a wonderful movie. There is no way I can describe seeing how the young students have matured and moved on in their lives. Damn … where is my Kleenex?
My latest plan is stay in Cambria for one more year. Whew!
But first … the garage. I had a severe heart attack 17 or 18 years ago (I’ve forgotten which). My heart actually stopped functioning and death was imminent within two minutes. With my 20 years as a fire captain, I knew I was in deep trouble. When a nurse informed the cardiologist that my blood pressure was 52 over 40 and dropping like a rock, I silently said to myself, “So this is how I died — today
is my last day.” No big deal.
As that last bit of consciousness faded to black, my last thought was, “Oh my gosh … they’re going to find the mess in my garage.” This is a true story.
Dr. Doria saved my life; I had nine months of therapy and have been playing tennis two or three times a week since then.
And I’m finally cleaning out my garage.
John Brannon’s “My Turn” column is special to The Cambrian. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Email your submissions for “Your Turn” (musings about Cambria—what it is, how it affects us; what we like about it and, for that matter, what could be better) to cambrian@thetri bunenews.com.