Sweet, Sweet Intimacy

By Ariel Kane

Sweet, Sweet Intimacy

It was midnight, a week before Christmas, and Shya and I had just landed at the Portland International Airport in Portland, Oregon. After disembarking we headed down the escalator to baggage claim. We were bleary after a longer than expected trip across the country, but happy to be on the ground. As we reached the baggage claim area a flight from San Francisco was queued up before us so it would be a few extra minutes before we could get our bags. As I stood leaning against Shya, I watched the people around me. I saw a young female soldier dressed in camo fatigues. I suspected the young man standing near her was her boyfriend and I silently thanked her for her service and wished her safety in the year ahead. A young toddler ran out in front of travelers and his mom admonished him with humor, “Look out John! Those people could run over you and then you would be flat John!” His eyes got wide, he looked up, realizing there were people all around him and smiled a slightly mischievous, angelic smile. Other sleepy youngsters cried in protest. People came and went. And then in front of me, a moment of sweet, sweet intimacy. A man of about 60, dressed casually in jeans and a button down shirt, spied his son – a man in his early 40s, a slimmer, younger version of his father. As they embraced, it was a long, close heartfelt hug. The father was facing me as they held each other and he squeezed his eyes shut, drinking the experience in like parched land absorbing, life-giving rain. His body relaxed as he filled with the essence that was his son. In that moment, for the two of them, none of us existed – not the airport, the wailing overtired children, or the crowd awaiting their bags. As they stepped apart, I heard the man say, “Did you see your mom yet?” The reply was lost to my ears as they wound their way closer to the conveyor belt. There were snippets of life blossoming all around me and I felt grateful to be one of the threads in this tapestry of humanity.

A few nights later, I sat on the couch with my mom and dad. They were both in their early 90s and Dad had severe short-term memory loss. He was often plagued by confusion, wondering if it was day or night and forgetting about having had a conversation within seconds of having it. It made it challenging for them to relate in any meaningful way. But Mom had stumbled upon something he could do and could be a part of with her: Solitaire. A few months before, Mom had seen Shya playing solitaire on his iPad and she thought it looked like fun. So Shya helped her load it onto her iPad, too, and in the evening Mom sat down and enjoyed some quiet time while playing the game. Much to her surprise, she discovered that Dad liked to play along with her. Although most conversation and the linear progression of time was far beyond him, saying that that red four of hearts should be moved and placed on the black five was not. It was visual. It was all about looking and seeing what is needed in the moment. And with Mom’s failing eyesight, he helped her to not miss moves . Playing solitaire became a conduit for renewed quality time together.

On that particular night, as Shya watched a football game in the living room, I sat next to my folks on the couch they had near the kitchen. I read a book on my iPad and enjoyed simply being in their proximity. Occasionally I would glance over to watch the progress of the game, particularly when I would hear my dad say, “Geri that nine goes on that ten.”

Eventually, things got very still and quiet. I looked over and Mom had drifted off to sleep, her little finger sliding down the screen as her head drooped. I leaned forward to peek around her to see my dad as he leaned forward, too. We shared a private smile. Then in sync, we leaned back, only to spontaneously lean forward once again and share another intimate moment. It was as if we were having a whole conversation without words.

Mom’s asleep.

Yes she is.

I love you!

I love you, too.

The moment was profound. The love flowed between us and swept up my mother as she dozed. Our deep connection was felt – not based on the past but rooted in that very moment. Dad didn’t remember it, of course. But he didn’t need to. I don’t even need to recall it in order to feel the love we all shared. But I am so grateful that I had my parents in my life well into their 90s – and even more grateful that all of my old childish resentments had dissolved away so that I could enjoy the purity and sweetness of being with them in their twilight days.

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So, so sweet♥️ I am touched🥰 What a sweet start into this new day💗