Words of occasional wisdom from Bruce Oakley

Gentle echoes

Posted by boakley59 on December 2, 2009

In dealing with disability, I have many moments of melancholy. I am busy in Bruce-watching, because I must be attentive to my health so as not to become sicker. When you are busy watching yourself be sick, though, mostly what you see is how you have faded from your remembered youthful vigor.

Lately, too, I have had more reminders of brighter days, as old friends and relatives in faraway places have for one reason and another stumbled back across my path. I have learned that an old flame has died; former workmates are spread across the globe; onetime housemates have become grandfathers. And in hearing these tidbits I recall the spark that once united us in grand creativity and vision, in vibrant hope of a life to live well.

These memories can be a great help, bringing a new warmth and renewed focus on the shared adventure that makes anything worth doing.

I was having a fretful moment a few days ago, worrying over some sadness at the ways of the world, when I was swept up in a vivid memory of my father’s voice. I didn’t get a whole conversation, but for a moment, I had a very strong recollection of his gentle, reassuring tone as I used to hear it when I talked over the miles on the phone. The softest echo of “Hey, Bud,” as he used to call me, soothed my worries and pointed me to a friendlier way to meet the world. I have far more temper than Dad showed, so I don’t know that I can meet the world the way he did, but for a moment, I could stop and remember that there are calm ways to meet disappointments — and enemies. Better yet, there are ways to see fewer enemies, even among those who are very different.

I have thought a lot about Dad in the three years since he died, but this is the first time he was “talking” to me. It’s a bit of a jolt. It has me thinking a lot about why I should be so keen to hear him now. I think it has to do with needing a guide to a better temper. I lose mine with the slightest breeze, but I can think of only twice when I ever saw Dad lose his: once to protect me and once to punish me. Mostly, there’s just “Hey, Bud,” and let’s all be friends (or at least friendly).

As I get back in touch with old friends and as I remember my father more vividly than ever, I hope I also return to a brighter outlook with less sound and fury and a more meaningful song of life.


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