Seattle Retrospective: Times Change and Time Changes

[For those who have been following my computer-less disorientation: I’m back in business as of today. Yes!]

Times Change. . .

It used to be that Mom and Dad were King and Queen, presiding over their large brood. Dad was a doctor who, at 70, became a Catholic deacon. Mom was the nurse who caught him, nearly 70 years ago, and bore him eight children. Now they are 92- and 95-years old, very much slowed down — and still in love.

I took the above photo during a picnic that Dad suggested we have, on the one fine day of our cloudy, drizzly week together. We took an “outing” to a nearby Mercer Island park, with sandwiches and milk and their faces drinking in the sun. Our outing was more of an expedition. Getting out of their big chairs takes huge effort. Moving from one room to the other is like moving through water. Dressing and undressing, time in the bathroom, in and out of the car, up the sidewalk, onto the bench — all of it slowed to a snail’s pace.

We sibs take turns caring for them, in our various ways. Paula and I live far away. Mark in Spokane and John in Anchorage live within a few hours travel time.
Kris, Mary, Marnie, and Kathy all live in Seattle, and see them often, especially the youngest, Kristin. She told me last year that she considers it an honor to be able to be with them during their final years. While I was there we decided to up our responsiveness; from now on seven of us will call and check on them, each one day per week. If nobody answers, we’ll call Kris, who will go check on them in person. It’s hard though, because Dad’s deaf and Mom always hands the phone to him.

Here’s me, the oldest sib, with “little sis” Kris, sixteen years my junior, and a Catholic school principal. She loves to let me know who’s boss, too!

During these past few years I’ve been spending a week at a time living with the folks, driving Dad to his errands, walking with them to and from their retirement community dining room for dinner. This was the first visit where he let me fix their breakfast and lunch, though he still insists on cleaning up himself.

Mom is moving steadily into dementia, though she recognizes all of us and relates continually to Dad as her companion and caregiver. Dad is as sharp as ever, and kind enough to use ear phones with Fox news when I’m in the same room. I’m becoming kind enough to not judge him (even internally) for watching it.

I write this post as a wrap-up from my trip to Seattle, both to put it behind me (amazing how, each time, the return to origins still requires so much processing), and to remark on something that I found most interesting.

Time Changes. . .

I already said in an earlier post that it took our family village to get Meggie married. Here she is, at the reception afterwards.

Notice Meg’s cleavage; in line with that of the five bridesmaids, who all wore slinky, sexy dresses to the church ceremony. I found that hilarious and now realize that this fact — that I find it hilarious — should be grouped under the first heading, “Times change.” I show my age when I gawk at kids’ routine, casual cleavage!

Okay, here’s what I find amazing. At one point early in the reception (150 people to a sit down dinner), a call went out for all the Kreilkamp sibs to gather along one wall with their folks, for photos.

Five minutes later, I kid you not, we were all there, in our usual line-up (eldest, that’s me, first, and on down the line), with camera phones clicking away. Mary, mother of the bride, in gold coat.

Then, even more amazing, a second call spontaneously went out for the rest of the Kreilkamp tribe in attendance to join in. (Had all the direct descendants and spouses been present, it would have totalled over 60 people.)

This time it took even less time — like a minute? two minutes? — and there we were, together, lined up for the shoot.

What used to take hours — with lots of fussing, and impatience, complication, and frustration — flashed through instantly. We flowed into and out of two complicated alignments lickety split, like a school of fish, or a flock of birds.

Time changes, accelerates. And one way to measure time’s acceleration is to notice how the intervals between events shorten — and shorten again. I like to think that, at least in this case, the alacrity with which we configured and then reconfigured has to do with our shared intent and the love streaming through. Strong, real, palpable. More and more, when together we are not so much needing to individuate as to merge. We “self-organized” as they say these days. With no leader and no direction. Rather, it was as if our shared intent generated an energetic field that automatically and smoothly directed each of us to the place we were meant to be.

One could never have predicted this beauty, this integrity.

I pray for the day when our whole human family acknowledges its shared intent.

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