Can someone use up their “good” years? Their “strong” years? I’m not talking about my wife and her mistakes or me and my blackness. I’m talking about something else entirely…
My Mom talks about the connection she had with and the greatness in my grandfather, before he got old, before falling down (although temporary, because nothing could, even in death, ever truly keep him down), before the years took their toll. She speaks to the end of his window of absolute strength, of absolute spectacular-ness. He can still do magic, can still make your head spin, can still show glimmers, but has a little less Houdini, a slower spin, a briefer glimmer.
She’s not wrong.
He is 82 and his years of taking on the evils of the world with the unwavering-ness of an army general (and of getting kicked out of brothels, according to a long-ago story of sport travel to Poland, and surreptitiously running away to Scandinavia to play soccer) are behind him. The years of him displaying that are someone else’s now. But that is his impact, his legacy for when he passes = the physics-defying passion and courageous care he’s passed along, payed forward. It is his time to bask, to still be involved as a fitness counselor, life simplifying-er, idea bouncer-offer, loving recipe researcher (so don’t get me wrong with that point), but he has shifted from Don to consigliere. For this reason, his role in recovery, in supporting, in providing tools is crucial and his knowledge and care and intellect are vital, but his role is secondary.
I felt that the new Don, my mother, would be a member of the primary. Along with my wife and I, my mother’s intellect (bolstered by me encouraging her self-confidence, especially in not being a reflection of an answer, but in tapping into her knowledge for the answer) and care (bolstered by my father’s true nature of never-ending love – when the flaws brought on by the blackness are not in charge) necessitate her as a primary, a central figure, the new Don, the Don of Tz’u. Necessitate her as the unwavering one, the one to have perspective, throughout. Necessitate her as the one to combine head and heart and soul, having vividness in perspective. Necessitate her as the one appearing lovingly fearless, unshakably fierce, adaptable. That’s why my wife’s letter in January was offered first to my parents – they were behind the looking glass, down the rabbit hole and to be holding a flashlight to give luminescence to our path of recovery.
And then came my brother’s fall, his regression into blackness. My mother fought hard – we all did. She stumbled at the start, but when the true test came, she was ready, stood tall, had fire in her veins and the courage of an army general. She was the Don. She called the cops, stood up to my father and stayed that way through the hospital and legal committal process. Exhausted and worn down though we were, we stood together like a mountain range, holding together and protecting each other from the erosion of my brother’s illness. After witnessing his return to self – medicinally regaining hold from his blackness – they have breath, they have air again.
However, during last month’s job, I saw the fatigue in her. I had shared my recovery plan with her days before, reminded her that day and did not find support, I found neglect. Neglect, though, that was a side-effect of fatigue. I witnessed a fire in need of nursing; a lessened strength, fight to care, courage to be aware. So I took the opportunity not to simply bare witness, but to be the nurse. I took that opportunity to backseat my recovery, which was very much in need of an intentionally aware support system – a system of Tz’u – to nurse the Don of Tz’u back to emotional, psychological, intentional health. Short-term sacrifice for long-term gain, regain, reclaim. I supported that reclaiming of my mother’s health, of the Don‘s health. I not only waited for the reemergence of that strength and courage, keeping a vigil for it, but I supported it with care and most of all, supported the rest for a tired little mouse.
Lack of Tz’u, that was a symptom of fatigue… right? That’s what I chalked it up to, thinking the best and hoping that the phone call to the cops was not the supernova’s last, greatest, brightest moment, the one before living out its days as a beautiful star in warmth, never being what it once was. But there are shadows, questions, maybes: uncomfortableness with confusion; driving without confidence (actually backing into me with the car – akin to backing into a table, a familiar sign from Habitating Family Friend; lacking awareness to model proper eating habits, not for her sake, but for mine; standing up for support as opposed to caving as an enabler….
I am asking a lot. That letter pre-brother asked a lot, but not too much. Now that we’ve clawed our way back, now that we’ve come back to it, what I’m asking may be too much. Now, the starbursts of support may be in warmth, or in echoes, while light years away, the supernova has dwindled, used up its primary energies, become a secondary star. Imperfections regressing not out of flaws or blackness, but out of the supernova bursting and fading, out of the natural path, out of the diminishing of a spirit through the circle of life.
Given that, was it an ebb and flow in the starbursts, with the brightest yet to come? Or is it time? When I was that unwavering perspective through my brother’s madness and held on, was the torch being passed? Am I the new dawn/Don of Tz’u?