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Saturday, May 30, 2009

THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE


Every day now I drive to Independence. It's a beautiful road all the way, smooth driving with a good flow to it there and back. Heading down the mountain on the Gap Civil turnpike to Twin Oaks seems like I just drove out of Alleghany County. Like Sparta Parkway, it always feels like I'm someplace else when I'm on it, like a Charlotte bypass. That new intersection where 93 turns off from 221 always disorients me, it's so like someplace else.
Every time I drive down the mountain toward Twin Oaks, I recall a short period of time after all the trees and the beautiful places of rock and fern on the mountain side of the highway were destroyed and everything beautiful about the drive down the mountain was made ugly real bad. The wires were absent on the right and the distant mountain landscape had the quality of a Japanese screen. It felt tremendously open and free, giving a subliminal feeling of flight, spaciousness and freedom.
When the poles and wires went back up, I couldn't believe how much difference it made. It felt like a fence restricting the sense of flight. The difference without the wires is so vast I subconsciously try to see it as it was without the poles and wires and am unable. It's still nice. Without the wires we use candles and kerosene lanterns. Light bulbs really are a lot better for light. Candles and lanterns make good decorations. The aesthetic travesty of wires everyplace is a small price to pay for what they deliver.
Like going down the mountain on 21 toward Thurmond, when they timbered the whole side of the mountain, I couldn't find much about it to praise. But, it opened the view over the Piedmont which is beautiful day and night. The vastness is such a good feeling to look over all the way to the horizon and distant, distant mountains. It's one of the joys of living in mountains to see from time to time such expanses of landscape.
I've seen the pipeline buried beside the road all the way from the state line up Gap Civil. They're in the place now where it's taking some time. Driveways to cross underground, one after the other, and repair them to like they were before. During workdays. They are doing a good job all the way along. They've planted what looks to my inexperienced eye like orchard grass, grass that will mow easily by mowing machine and look good.
I park at the nursing and rehabilitation facility parking lot amazed at how many cars, most of them people working there. Inside, there are people working everywhere. Everybody is busy, in a good humor, all of them seeming to be deeply caring people who care a great deal about the people they're helping who can't do for themselves. The people of the staff get to know the people and stop and speak when they're passing by the room. Any kind of assistance needed at any moment is attended to. It's like the staff is there to serve the patients instead of the patients there to serve the staff. The whole place seems to have a certain flow about it that is centered around the patients. It's beautiful in that way to see how well a large number of people is being cared for individually.
I'm especially grateful to see my friend I respect way up high comfortable in every way possible. He can't be where he wants to be, home, but that's not out as a likelihood in near future. Most of the women there call him Wylie, and by now they've learned why that's his name, and one, his physical therapist, calls him Max. Everybody who works in his hall likes him and keeps him cheered up simply paying attention to him.
Like these changes in the roads that I never seem to get used to, I never get used to seeing Jr Maxwell, master mechanic, master banjo picker, sawmiller, a man awake and alive with such a spirit for life it's seemingly inextinguishable suspended in the space between question and answer. His body fades gradually, steadily and there's not a whole lot he can do. Even less that he feels like doing.
It's disorienting to see somebody so full of the life spirit hobbling around with a walker. They have him walking now. He couldn't stand up when he went in. He is so out of his element sometimes it seems he's upside down on the ceiling like helium-filled silver pillows. He's up there unable to move, unable to leave the bed, looking helpless and weightless, outside his life, waiting all day and all night for a good sleep.

1 comment:

  1. i am speechless. marvelous writing.

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