I walked alone during the early morning sunrise,
knowing full and well that walks like this
would be coming to an end.
We were approaching summer,
the year was 2015
I knew that while my reason for this trip
was to settle the affairs of my dying Mother,
that times were moving and that, in fact,
times must, will and do change.
I knew that walks like this
would eventually change hands
and while in the bright morning of an upcoming sun,
Florida, like the symbol of the orange
the heartland of something, which was like a promissory dream
or hope which was shared between a husband and wife
or namely the Old Man and my Mother;
I walked alongside the beach at Fort Lauderdale,
alongside the palm trees, feeling the offshore breeze pass me
walking across from the high-priced hotels along A1A
or, also known as
North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard
where happy travelers come to enjoy themselves
and play on the beach.
I want to build this picture
so that you can see this in your mind’s eye.
The sun was rising with a soft orange hue,
gentle and delicate yet perfect for the moment.
The sun was hot and it was still early
which proved to be a good idea to get my walk in early;
in which case, I saw that perhaps I was alone on my walk,
however, I was not alone with the idea
to walk before the sun took over
and the day grew too hot.
It’s always been interesting to me
to see people jogging in the morning.
More accurately, I’m a people watcher.
I swear, we are all from a beautiful species.
We are an amazing creation. I mean this
honest and truly.
I notice things, at least I try to.
I do my best to be aware of the world around me.
I do my best to keep an open mind.
I do my best to be perceptive and to pay attention.
I do my best not to judge or point fingers
or put people on pedestals
or see them below me.
In part, I suppose these walks of mine
were helpful enough
to create a physiological change in my body.
I suppose I needed something to do
to physically process the emotional information
which was that my Mother was at her end
and also, that being of sound mind –
I, Benjamin J. Kimmel,
in accordance with the world around me
and the laws of being a son,
who was also the healthcare proxy,
I stood where I was supposed to stand,
did as I promised, and if not for these walks
or breaks in the intensity;
or if not for these moments of quiet beauty in the change
of morning beneath the sun,
I’m not sure how I would have done
when Mom was at her end.
The saying goes,
that no one knows the hour or the day; not even The Son,
but only The Father knows.
And this is true to life. No one knows the hour or the day,
at least not really.
Nobody knows when their time is up
but, of course,
I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule
and deviations from the standard
there is a surrealness to the moment, which is life,
which is always moving
and which is nothing other than life
being held to one undeniable fact:
Life is always eventual and inevitable –
Life is made of three parts which starts with the beginning
and ends with our final moment.
These two parts are the bookends of the middle
or the heart and the very meat of life,
which is our existence
which is what tells our story, long after we’ve left
the face of this Earth.
What we do in-between the beginning and the end
is what makes us live on forever.
This is our legacy. This is what we leave behind
And Mom, she had her ups and downs.
I knew this.
She had her hands full.
I knew this too because, of course,
she had to raise me.
Safe to say that, yes, I wished I was a better son.
Safe to say
that I wished Mom never got the phone calls she received.
Safe to say that I wished Mom had an easier time
but life is seldom in connection with what we want
or ask for.
But if you asked her,
Mom would never change a thing
and say “if it were any other way,
then you wouldn’t be my son.”
And she meant this too . . .
I know she did
Perhaps I might have told you this.
Or, maybe I haven’t.
I don’t do cemeteries . . .
That’s where dead people live.
I do, however, believe in Moms.
I do believe in the power of love and yes,
I heartily believe that nothing is so strong as a Mother’s love
and, therefore, if this is true,
which it is (because my Mom told me so)
then not even death or anything
could take this love away.
I know that with all our hearts and souls,
we always wish things would be easier
I know that I believe in this:
That which is of flesh is of flesh
and that which is of spirit is of spirit.
And since we are here and of the flesh;
this means we are here with both perfections and imperfections.
This means we have faults and flaws
and imperfections that come with being alive
and reacting to old ideas and traumas.
The word for this is human; hence,
I humanize this to create a better understanding
I believe this with all of my heart.
I believe that while we are of the flesh,
our imperfections have a way of getting the best of us.
I say this happens to everybody.
No one . . .
I have said this before too;
the eyes of the spirit never blink because they don’t need to.
I believe in the soul.
I believe in the spirit and while I am uncertain
what this looks like after the last minute of life;
perhaps I believe in this for a selfish reason,
which is to keep my love and their love alive
for as long as I live. Hence,
this way, even at my worst, I know that I will never be alone
or without the love from those who I’ve lost.
I believe in the spirit. I believe that while the eyes of the spirit
are still alive, they see more clearly
than anything we could possibly comprehend.
While of the flesh, our eyes blink.
We close our eyes to rest.
We close our eyes to imagine
or to picture something we can’t see,
but maybe we can only touch it
so, we need to imagine what this looks like.
However, the eyes of the spirit do not need to blink.
Not once. We blink constantly because the eyes need moisture.
The eyes of the spirit do not need these things.
Therefore, their view is unobstructed
I believe in this. And even if I believe in this,
only because I want to
and only because this makes me feel better
or if this is enough to trick my thoughts into believing
that Amen and Hallelujah,
Mom is still with me and The Old Man is still with me too –
even if for no other reason than this:
I believe in the eyes of the spirit
which is why I look up at the sky sometimes.
Just to say, I miss you.
I was young when The Old Man died.
The one thing he told me is
“You take care of your Mother!”
I did that. I was there, just like she asked me to be.
And was I perfect?
but like I said, that which is of flesh is of flesh
and that which is of spirit is of spirit.
I am of the flesh and my imperfections are real and true.
I have a list of these things.
I have a list of improvements
starting with my defects of character
and working over to my shortcomings
and starting with my faults and flaws.
I am, at best, a human in this world
who comes complete with a list of challenges
and traumas, battles and scars.
I am, however, human too, which means
it is up to me to change and evolve
because otherwise, my life will only
consist of blaming my problems away
instead of changing my problems away.
I remember my early morning walks
along the beach while Mom was sick.
I remember the phone calls I had to make.
I remember the back and forth arguments
with the hospitals and the assisted living home
and the troubles I went through
when she was being difficult.
She once asked me if I was angry with her for “sending me away”
when I was younger.
Let’s keep in kind that had I not gone where I went,
bad things would have happened to me and I,
sitting here with you as a humble narrator;
I’d have not been here to tell this story.
I remember when Mom asked me this.
Was I mad at her for “sending” me away?
I remember tilting my head to the side
with a curious look.
My eyebrows folded down,
my neck pitched back with unsureness
because, at the time, Mom had no choice.
I was sick . . .
I suppose she asked this because she was “away”
in her own way.
Mom couldn’t live without around-the-clock care and
where she lived was lonely, even though she was never alone
in fact, where Mom lived was a place
where the ambulance visited every day
for someone in the facility.
And where she lived,
there were always the revolving openings
and vacancies for reasons
that only happen in the so-called
where people end their lives
I suppose Mom thought maybe I didn’t love her
because she never “Got me out” of where I was.
But I needed to be where I was
because although my illness at the time was certainly
viral and social; had I not been at a place with around-the-clock care,
I’d have been on the other side
or in the other column of statistics.
Or in my case, I would have been dead young
and not around to report this to you
Was I angry when I was “away,” so-to-speak?
Sure. I was angry.
I didn’t like my choices and, therefore, I was belligerent.
So, when Mom was angry or when she threw her fits at the staff,
I understood this.
At least, I understood this at an intellectual level
I understood this more
when she told me what it was like
for her to be “away.”
Neither Mom nor I liked our choices
when we were taken
out of our element
for our own good
I suppose the walks I took when Mom was sick
was to help me separate my emotions from my strategy.
I had to understand that there was a goal in mind
and that there were plans in place
and yes, there was a strategy to hold this together.
I know this: Time is always too short.
So is life.
I know that the benefit of hindsight is not always there,
at least when we need it most,
but our levels of realizations and awareness
come at times when they do.
We learn in stages –
at least I do . . .
Mom passed on June 10, 2015
I don’t go to the cemetery.
That’s where dead people live.
As for Mom, well, I send her messages
and hope the universe sends my letters
which I imagine she gets in a mailbox,
and keeps each and every letter I sent.
By the way, somewhere is a box of greeting cards.
Mom kept them.
I know this because I found them
when gathering the last of her things.
I used to write Mom once a week
when she first moved down to Florida
Keep this one too, Mom.
And just know,
Your baby boy is doing okay.
I have some bumps and bruises
I have a few scrapes and I’ve gone through some bouts
and, hopefully, the world is about to turn up
in a big way.
But don’t worry, Mom
I’m getting by just fine
Tell Pop, I’m okay too please.
I could use a visit though.
I could use a sign, if you have the time
It would be nice to see you again . . .
I love you, Mom
Oh my …you have my tears flowing. This touched me so much. My father passed away Sept. 2022, and we are having a delayed Celebration of Life for him this Sunday. We are leaving later today to travel to Idaho for it, so this brought back the emotions of watching my Dad’s last days on this earth. My husband and I were able to be with him the last week of his life. Thank you for sharing. This was beautiful and honest.