Transitions

It rained all day yesterday and some of the leaves just off our balcony turned from pale pink to dark red. I guess fall is here. It will be interesting to see what happens to our view as the weeks roll by. At the moment we see the variegated greens of many deciduous trees—almost touchable from the balcony wall—and here and there in the background, an evergreen. I imagine we'll feel quite exposed when all these leaves depart, but maybe not. There are so many trees it's almost like a forest.

There's a real forest just a hop away. It's Portland's Forest Park, at 5,157 acres the largest urban forest park in the U.S. Our condo complex sits near the edge of Forest Park and sometimes it's hard to remember that we live just three miles from downtown, with all its busyness and bustle. There are 80 miles of trails in the park so when the pain in my achilles tendon lets up there are plenty of opportunities for good walks.

It's lovely having nature near at hand and it helps make the transition from small town to city a bit easier. But it's still a transition. I still miss the ponderosas. And from experience I know it takes a least a year to feel like you belong in a new place. And this move has actually brought us to two places, one that can be found on a map and one that can't. Ray's Alzheimer's has brought us both to a whole new country.

Don't worry, this isn't going to turn into a blog about Alzheimer's. There are plenty of books and articles, and blogs no doubt, about the disease. I don't intend to contribute to that. But it's important to acknowledge, and to accept that it has changed our lives. Ray is still in the early stages but it has affected his mobility and his attitude. He's no longer the curious, outgoing, eager-for-life guy I've known so many years. He's quieter and less interested in the world. But he still has his quirky sense of humor. And we still laugh a lot.

This transition is going to be slower and harder, but it will come. Life is truly a gift, and the lessons the universe keeps thrusting on me are unchanging and wise: Be treelike. Accept and do your best. Open your heart. Forgive others and yourself. And love, love, love.