This piece was written for my newspaper column, Reflections, less than three weeks after Bill died in 2010.
It is now three weeks since Bill crossed death's threshold. Spring has arrived here in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The cardinal has taken over our Maple tree perching himself at the very top each day and announcing his territorial claim with birdsong. In the back yard, the rabbit races across the yard when our dog, Bentley, chases him. The rabbit knows exactly where the hole is that gets him beneath the fence. S/he created that escape route. Birds of all kinds empty the feeders on an almost daily basis. A dear friend gave me a new birdbath in Bill’s honor and it now graces our yard along with the one left to me by my Dad and next to these feeders. The yard is alive with birdsong. The trees are budding and the sun is higher in the sky.
| || |
All of these make my heart smile for a brief moment. I think of how we both love/d spring. We could hardly wait to get out to the hills and soak up its beauty. The cycle of life goes on. Spring arrives in all its glory and soon summer will present herself with the fullness of life. When the leaves fall from the trees next autumn in preparation for winter, the cycle will once more have completed itself. Over and over again…dawn to dawn, spring to winter, and birth to death to birth. The wheel keeps turning. People come into our lives and people leave our lives.
I wrote this newspaper column for my husband Bill well before Alzheimer's disease invaded our lives. Bill died March 27, 2010.
There was a time when his hands carried a Bible to school every single day. Over the years he used those hands to reach out to an almost endless number of people. As a minister he blessed others with them. As a clinical psychologist he helped people in pain. He hugged his daughters as they succeeded in life and greeted friends. As an artist Bill restored a Victorian house, built an elegant clock and more. With those hands Bill writes poems that stir souls; cooks meals just as he did as a small boy with a sick mother; draws house plans. He has used his hands to fix just about anything as well as create lovely bowls on his wood lathe.
He had soothed those around him and been tender and loving, gentle and warm knowing how vulnerable people are when pain haunts their days. Bill has had fun restoring an old Model T Ford and an old rusty Rolls Royce to their original conditions winning ribbons along the way and using only original parts. Playing Frisbee with our dogs, driving his tractor on our land and conducting choirs bring him joy.
The Rolls Royce Bill restored.
There are transitions and then...there are transitions. The transition from elementary school to high school is, in hindsight, not as big as it seemed back then. Nor is the transition from age 69 to 70. However, life is full of many kinds of transitions. Becoming a quadriplegic after being an athlete (or not) demands adjustments that are beyond the imaginations of most of us. Moving from being a single person to being a married person, though exciting and joy-filled, is also a large change in our lives...one that demands a daily commitment. Moving into retirement years is big, but for many/most of us it is eventually, if not immediately, a positive experience. Then there is the transition of living without someone you love deeply. These transitions from being a joyfully married person to being a widow/er or from being the parent of a happy toddler to losing that toddler to an accident or disease are about as difficult as transitions can get. Finally there is the transition we call aging which, if you think about it, starts the minute we are born, but which we don't think much about until we get into our 70s or even 80s.
uninterruptedly she flows -
by every boulder
and fallen tree lodged -
bill hunt -of cutler creek – 10 may 2000
Little did I know when Bill sat at the edge of Cutler Creek writing this poem that just five years later, (in 2005), I would be drawing on my own persistence in order to forge ahead as we struggled with his diagnosis of Alzheimer's and as I ultimately struggled following his death in 2010. I can't say I am undaunted as is Cutler Creek but I can say that I will never give up.
Bill loved that creek. It was behind our mountain home in Colorado. At night we would listen to it as we drifted off to sleep. I frequently found him sitting there listening to the sounds it created especially when the mountain snow was melting in the spring. Or he might be writing a poem, watching eagles soar or just soaking up mountain beauty.