Two years ago today, I visited Joshua Tree National Park in California, for the very first time. On that day, I took the photo, which is now the banner photo for this blog. Growth comes from the dry dessert. A portion of the San Andreas Fault runs along the border like a scar and a warning of ominous future possibilities. Joshua Tree is life in stark relief.  Joshua Tree shows that although the life cycle endures, individual lives  end. This is both reassuring and unsettling.

I was born 52 years-ago. I can’t imagine any human birth being undramatic, but mine was dramatic in the will-she-or-won’t-she-live kind of way. I don’t know how close to not making it that I actually was. I was premature and had a respiratory immaturity that was not treatable at that time because the cause was not understood. A few decades later, medical science would progress to the point, where the condition was treatable and not such a big deal.

Perhaps, in part, due to this, I have been more in tune with the beautiful strength and fragility of life as well as how the changes in scientific knowledge change our understanding and influence over the natural world. Life, what an experience! What a marvel to behold!

I greeted today with a care conference at a short-term rehabilitative center for my 85 year-old dad. People on Dad’s side of the family, especially the men, don’t tend to be long-lived. Dad never expected to reach 85.

For the past 3-4 years, he’s struggled with health problems that have impacted his mobility and much more recently, his ability to care for himself completely on his own. To make a long story short, a hospital visit last week to stabilize an emergent problem, turned into a recommendation for rehabilitative treatment, focused on physical therapy and occupational therapy. I have been worried about my dad’s safety at home, especially using the stairs. So although I appreciate all of the changes that my parents are going through, living apart, accepting help from family, and facing uncertainty, I am relieved that my dad is getting long needed support and that my mom is getting some outside help with his care.

I think that my mom feels slightly bad that I started my birthday with a meeting at a rehab facility. Really, there was no place I would have rather have been on my 52nd birthday, which incidentally, the day before my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary.

We are helping my dad in the last part of his life. How long that part is, we don’t know. Yes, it is sad to face the prospect of losing loved ones, but in the stark relief of my families’ life there is great beauty. There  is the beauty of my brothers, our spouses, friends, and my mom pulling together as a team. There is the beauty of the love of my parents for each other, as well as for their children.

My parents legacy of love, hard work, and compassion will live on past their days, just as my own legacy will.

Each day is a gift to be accepted and to be shared.