Saturday, April 29, 2006

New York: The Healer

Yesterday morning, I had Grammie Time with my 2 year-old grandson, Ethan. I picked him up at his apartment at 9 a.m. and off we went for another morning of whatever-we-want. Somehow it has evolved over the past year—usually on Monday or Friday mornings, and solely because of the generosity of Ethan’s mom, my daughter-in-law, who has him ready for our adventures with a snack and toy bag, a wave and a smile as she sends us off, then goes to the gym for awhile.

I look forward to these mornings out. Sometimes, we go to the Turtle Pond in Central Park and feed the ducks. Sometimes, we go to the Museum of Natural History and visit the live butterfly exhibit, a real tropical forest environment with caterpillars metamorphosing into butterflies before your eyes, exotic species of papillion fluttering by you as you walk along. Sometimes we ride the subway down to 59th Street and have a snack at Whole Foods, then come back home. Once we went to a children’s concert at Lincoln Center ( he didn’t like the concert much but had a great time with a boy named Paul ). Sometimes, we just stay at Grammie’s House.

Yesterday, we just stayed at my house. “Let’s go to the roof and blow bubbles”, I offered. “Oh, Reemie, blow BUBBLES’, Ethan said, as he hustled to the closet to fetch his coat and hat. He talked the whole way as we walked up the two flights to the roof garden. “Oh, Reemie, steps sooo high.
Oh, Reemie, Ethan hold rail just like my house. Oh, Reemie, I shheeee the roof-- RIGHT THERE.”

The blue sky was almost cloudless, and looking west, you could see the hills of New Jersey beyond the Hudson River. Ethan dipped the wand deep into the bottle, then blew on the open circle with puckered lips. A stream of bubbles floated across the terrace and up into the sky above us. He bounced off the bench and ran after them until they either burst or sailed away.

After I took him home for his nap, I overheard a 40ish man, sitting on a bench in the park next to the Museum of Natural History talking on his cell.
” How many days sober? That’s more than last time, man.”

I ran into my contractor, Mr. Flynn, who had just returned from his brother’s funeral in Galway, Ireland, his boyhood home. His brother was 54 and died without warning, no sign of disease. We talked about Suzanne, and his brother’s death. Steve knows something about loss. His now 25 year old son was diagnosed with osteosarcoma when he was 10, and eventually had his leg amputated to arrest the cancer. He is about to begin a residency at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, wants to join a research team devoted to curing cancers in children.
“I guess life takes its toll when you start adding up the losses”,
Steve said with a thick brogue, looking past me. “But I think mostly it’s worth it, more good than bad.”

I think Mr. Flynn is right. Life seems to beg to be lived even when you’re not sure you can.

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