Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Car Rides

An e-mail from L: We took a drive today, she writes of herself and her husband, who is ill. That’s all, she writes, we don’t even stop for lunch anymore. 

And my first thought is, I would be so happy to take Dan for a drive. 

Dan has been dead for years. I still think about him maybe three times a day, in part because of this blog. That’s down from 100 in the weeks after his death, or 50 in the months after. 

I’m happy in my life, with my friends, our activities, my volunteer work. I’ve traveled much of the world, one country at a time. My job was OK, and now that I’m retired, life is even better, and my bills are still paid. 

But I would give all that up in an instant to be able to take the ailing Dan for a drive. The peace of it, the privacy of the car, just the two of us with the windows rolled down, the air fragrant with heat or mown grass, the hint of autumn or a coming shower. We could drive along the Hudson River and look across it to the Catskill Mountains. We could admire pumpkins line up for sale in October or the low sky over Lake Taghkanic in December.  

Imagining this, I’m recalling a drive when he was ill. We met a friend for dinner in Rhinebeck. Dan refused to use his walker and did something mildly demented at dinner, but we all got through it and then we hugged our friend good-bye and headed back home. The next four months were hell, and then it was over. But for forty minutes that evening, sweet May air filled the car, and the sunset clouds ahead of us were blushed with rose. 

I didn’t have to worry about his falling; he didn’t have to struggle to be something that he no longer was. For an hour we were safe, together. 


  1. I'm posting this for Bernie, our friend now in Illinois. He's a writer, as you can tell.

    That's an especially beautiful one, Debby. I think about Dan a lot myself—almost every time I get on my bike and puff and struggle to do a few level lakeshore miles, I remember some rides in dear old hilly Columbia County with him kindly zig-zagging his way up some of the more challenging ones to accomodate my slower pace. Likewise when I am rushing to finish a piece of something on deadline I recall last-minute drives to hand over something he had commissioned. My computer, at least, wasn't up to forwarding entire documents then. He was very generous in providing me some freelance assignments. He was very generous in general.

    I've been unable to run for a long while (years, now) but when I look yearningly at a poster for some 10K holiday race (free T-shirts to early registrants) I remember signing up for a couple of local races which we ran not quite together, since he naturally would be near the front of the pack and I wasn't, but simultaneously.

    I never see a foreign or "art house" movie that I dislike without recalling how Dan would have tried to explain its fine points to me, and I rarely sample a new eatery without remembering visits that the three of us made to touted restaurants in Columbia County—and at least once, during a visit with Rita, the four of us.

    Needless to say, when the Red Sox broke their world championship drought of eighty-odd years in 2004, I kept thinking of how that would have gratified him. And many more.

    All in all, muy hombre. You find only a few friends like that in a lifetime, and only then if you're lucky. I'm glad I was. Bernie

  2. This is so beautiful, and the pictures are too. A sweet reminder of how the little, everyday things in life can be so meaningful and precious.