FEEL GOOD FRIDAY: Last Dance


by Dave Markwell

I was thinking about death the other day. I was thinking about my brother and Dad and grandparents. I was thinking about how I missed them and how my life changed when they passed. What was weird about these thoughts on this day was that they were not somber or melancholy. They were more practical and reflective.

As I pondered this normally depressing topic, I noticed that it was a truly beautiful day. While I was picking weeds from my planter beds in shorts and no shoes, I thought it seemed rather odd to be thinking such usually dark thoughts on such a nice day. However, this day these thoughts didn’t diminish its beauty or make me sad. More than anything, they made me mindful and very grateful to be able to enjoy such a day.

I sat on my knees and picked weeds in the bark as the late summer sun shone high in the sky. My daughter rode her bike around the yard and up and down our long driveway. My father-in-law, who is visiting us from New York for a while, puttered around singing Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” in his own very “special” way. I smiled and shook my head and was happy to be able to enjoy such a fine day.

This morning my wife and I walked our daughter to school for her first day of fourth grade. I love this walk. I forget sometimes that life is moving. On daily basis not much changes, at least very obviously to me. Little mileposts like first days of school remind me, sometimes harshly, that life indeed is moving.

My son started eighth grade. How in the hell did this happen? Where did that time go? I remember very clearly dropping him off for his first day of kindergarten and crying like a baby when I got to the car. I knew then that life was changed. Our kids grow up and in their growing up perhaps we do, too. As their view of the world changes, so does ours. We are always changing, sometimes not quickly enough for SOME people (no names mentioned), but we are changing and are changed by entering these new phases of our kids’ lives.

Through our life and theirs, our dreams and worries change. We care less about some things and much more about others. I care about my kids’ todays and tomorrows. I care about my wife’s love of her life. I care about first days and last days and all days. I care about a moment of simple clarity that shines its precious light on my often murky horizon. I care about a fine day sitting in the sun, pulling weeds from a flower bed, thinking important thoughts and hearing Pops belt out “Last Dance.” I think these are good things to care about.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]


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