I wake to the sound of a foghorn skipping across the San Diego harbor. During past visits barking seals have broken my sleep and in my brain’s morning fog I’ve mistaken them for the sound of Calvin seizing. When I open my eyes I see a string of Tibetan prayer flags hanging across heavy white linen swags. Sitting up, I can see out the sliding glass doors to the boats in the marina which are floating in glass. The city beyond, though laced in fog, stands sharply against a body of blue mountains, Mexico in the distance.
Tonight I leave all this behind, leave the lusciously warm weather, the rumble of airplanes, the caw of green parrots and the chirp of songbirds, the lush foliage, the restful sight of a big western sky, of dolphins and pelicans, of city lights and the feel of Mom’s silver head, soft hands and loving smile—and family.
Back at home it’s been snowing again and will dip down below zero tonight. My boys are likely cooped up inside. I can imagine Rudy traipsing around behind them all day dragging his claws across the hardwood floors. As I write this I realize I’ve been having bad dreams about them, and the ache to get home deepens. I wish I could bring them here or simply lasso the West, with its sun and calm and expanse and repose, and drag it out there to Maine to melt off all of that cold and ice which makes me draw my shoulders tightly into my neck.
But, I still have today to soak my body in the sun and sop up as much of my aging mother as I can. Whenever I leave this place I never know whether I’ll be seeing her again. Bit by bit the Alzheimer's is melting her into this California scene, dissolving her into its purple and gold wallpaper days. I turn three more cards over—for my mother—and the words that appear are Synthesis, Beauty and Light.