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Unknown Trails

Trail to Lower Yosemite Falls

The thrills of an unknown trail:  fresh challenges, beauty in unexpected places and the compression of our scattered focus into more absorbent moments.  It’s how many of us aim to live until deadlines pile up and lagging stamina buries our gratitude.  But stubborn gratitude can grow even stronger in the dark places…  we go forward with eyes wide open, not wanting to miss any of the blessings in our finite lives.

We sat with my Grandma Wanda yesterday, summoning favorite memories in her room at the care center.  She’s been rushed to the hospital three times this month and has declared it “dumb” to go back again if they can’t fix anything.  She knows she won’t be returning to her home this time and that she may not make her 100-year birthday goal.  She’s faced her share of challenges and sometimes created a few for her family with her own “don’t miss a thing” attitude.  Family members knew that if no one volunteered to go with her -to parties, weddings, reunions -she would probably go anyway.

She is the grandma that enabled my neighborhood plays, programs and circuses in childhood.  I’d wait for her visits and Mom’s absence to roll out my latest scheme, and she would quietly cover the managerial details that flew past my creative brain.  She held me and then my children as newborns, and we held each other after the deaths of my parents.

Yesterday she blessed all of us, here and away, name by name.  We’ve been told the obvious -that she is declining rapidly, but her frail body belies her strength of spirit and curiosity.  She wouldn’t mind leaving us now.  She’s tired.  She can’t do many of the things she once enjoyed, but she also doesn’t want to miss any of the joys still within her grasp.

That’s the sense of adventure that keeps one’s feet in motion, one’s heart engaged and life’s beauty within view.  May we all live with that same expectant hope…

*Photo is from this past summer on a trail in Yosemite National Park, California.

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