You Can’t Choose

Friday, 5/24/13,  marked one year from the day my father died.  For about a week or so leading up to that date I felt crabby and out of sorts.  My energy was low and I seemed to drag through each day.  I slept through the alarm and didn’t make it to the gym.

I finally figured out the connection between the upcoming date and my feelings.  Treating myself with love and kindness seemed like a better response than feeling guilty about eating poorly or skipping a workout.  Once I’d acknowledged my feelings I was still sad but it wasn’t wrapped up in shame.  A vigorous evening hike with my sister Sarah and two other friends helped me feel more myself again (pictures at the end of the post).

My dad didn’t have a choice about the way his life ended, other than taking his own life, which I know some people choose to do, but wasn’t ever on the table.  What I’m thinking about is that we are all going to die but we don’t get to pick what is going to be the cause.  We don’t get to choose when it will happen either.

Yesterday morning, as I do almost every Saturday morning, I was taking a hike with my sister.  She brings her dog, Ruby and I pick up my  mom’s dog, Molly.  Kathleen’s little sister, Ariel, joined us.

We were heading for a familiar loop around Phoenix Lake in Ross.  It is a popular spot with lots of hikers, runners and bicyclists.  We walked up the dirt fire road from the parking lot to the lake and had just started around the lake when we came to two men, their bikes on the ground.  One was talking on his cellphone, the other kneeling.

My first impression was that something was wrong with one of the bikes.  But as we walked closer we saw it was much more serious.  A woman was on her back, apparently she’d been walking her dog and had just collapsed.  The man on the phone was speaking to a 911 operator and asked us to go back to find someone to open the gate from the parking lot for an ambulance. Neither of the cyclists or anyone in our group knew CPR.

There was a dog with a leash running around the tense scene and we quickly learned it was the woman’s.  We took the dog with us and went back to where we’d seen park personnel who radioed to someone down at the gate.  Meanwhile other people had come upon the same scene.  Two runners sped past us, seeking a nurse or doctor from the walkers and runners they passed.

A nurse was found and he, along with his young daughter, the runners and the park staffer raced back to the scene in her SUV.  We could already hear sirens and in a very short time emergency vehicles roared past us with lights flashing, raising plumes of dust.

Our peaceful morning walk was interrupted by this sad scene.  Many concerned people reached out to try and help in some way.  We walked back around to the cluster of trucks and paramedics, runners, hikers and cyclists.  We mentioned to a paramedic that the dog had tags with phone numbers in case the woman had no ID, which later proved to be the case.

The nurse was doing chest compressions and later I saw a paramedic take over that effort.  It was quite some time before the woman was loaded into the back of the paramedic truck. Her dog was with a ranger.  The crowds of people on either side of the group of trucks and SUV’s drifted apart as hikes and rides were taken up again.

I tried to find a story with more information this morning in the local paper online. I don’t know what happened to that woman after she left the park.  But I know she was out on a beautiful morning, walking her young dog in a lovely, scenic spot.  I can only guess at her age – perhaps my age (53), certainly not elderly.

She could have been driving her car when what ever caused her to collapse on the trail happened.  She could have been at a desk at work or in her kitchen fixing breakfast.  She didn’t have a choice.

After our hike I went to see my mom and told her about our experience.  We both had emergency numbers in our cellphones but realized we could add a note with our own name and contact which we both did.  A CPR class may be in my future.

My brother came by with his girlfriend for birthday cake (mom baked more of the delicious oatmeal cake).  Mom and I were having lunch (cake followed) and the four of us talked about life and death and how we just don’t get to choose about the death part.

In the afternoon I visited my dad’s grave and talked to him a bit. I sang a few songs and cried some tears. Here are links to previous posts on my dad and his cancer:

Sometimes Life Just Piles Up

On Caring

Be Loving

Keeping Busy

Goodbye, Papa

Just Less Orderly

Papa’s Stone

We do get many choices in our lives and I’m trying to make good ones.  Being outdoors in the beautiful area we live in, spending time with friends and family members, singing with my choir members at bedsides of people on the threshold, and making time and space in my life for my creative endeavors. I believe these choices are ways that celebrate the life and the opportunities I have.

Here are photos from the hike I took earlier in the week with my sister Sarah. We started by Andy’s Local Market on San Pedro Road then hiked uphill, taking in the gorgeous views.

Richmond San Rafael Bridge with Oakland and Bay Bridge in the background.

Richmond San Rafael Bridge

Loch Lomond Marina and the parking lot where we started at Andy’s Market.

Andy's Market & Loch Lomond Marina

Mount Tamalpais.

Mt. Tam

It’s quite a hike up to these swings, but the views are beautiful.

Swings

McNear Brickyard on the front of the peninsula, the quarry is on the back to the left.

Brickyard

The hikers heading back downhill.

Downhill

Thanks for stopping by.

9 Comments

Filed under Life

9 responses to “You Can’t Choose

  1. Ericka

    Beautiful post, Dianne. Thinking of you, thinking of your dad. xxoxo

  2. violetannie63

    Lovely words. I hope happy memories of your Dad in better days will get you through the next week, and the next after that. He was lucky to have you all x

    • Thanks very much. Sometimes I’m just compelled to write a post. I really feel that a part of him lives on in each of us. One of the ways we honor his memory is to do things he loved which includes cooking and eating together, artistic expression, walks – especially with Molly…

  3. Lovely…but, sad post…Our feelings do need to be expressed…I think it helps us through those days where memories crowd in..I too, am like you…I get a certain feeling when
    the date of the death of my Mom and Dad comes around…and the I get that ah, ha!…moment and understand what is happening…
    Best to you…mkg

    • Thanks, Marilyn. It really was kind of ah, ha! Getting through the week before the actual day was harder because I think I was just dreading and anticipating and not really knowing what I would feel. Yes, I was sad, yes, the memories from a year ago are tough and I’m sad that a whole year has gone without him here. On the other hand, he lived a full life, the good memories far outweigh the bad and I would not wish for him to live on suffering as he was from cancer.

  4. beautiful post to remember your dad, sorry it’s still painful Dianne.

    • Thanks. The year of firsts is over = first Father’s Day ,first Thanksgiving, first birthday, first Christmas, etc., etc. Not to say that we won’t miss him when those special days come around again, but somehow I feel relieved to know we all survived it.

  5. Pingback: Thinking About My Dad | dianne faw

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