© 2009 Lynsey

088 – Cloud whisperer


I’ve had a pretty uneventful life. Not boring, but everything’s gone along without anything exceptional happening. I came through learning from my parents that I was adopted unscathed, I did well at school, went to university and graduated with a science degree. I found work with a great team of people and I got to engage with a favourite childhood activity – looking at clouds. I remember the summers, lying back on the sand with my Dad, looking up to the clouds for bunnies and other creatures. It’s funny how almost all of my colleagues have pictures of clouds shaped like an elephant or a duck or some other creature stuck on their walls. In between the pictures of the twister that ate Oklahoma or the typhoon that levelled Guam; and of course, the obligatory plastic dinosaurs.

I met my wife through work – can a climate scientist and a post-punk geek chick find love? Yes, we can! And did. She arrived at work one day, “I’m here to do some writing.” I thought she was here to some sort of journalism press release thing. Turned out she was here to do some programming on Kupe, our very own pet supercomputer. I felt embarrassed.

“Tom”, I said, holding out my hand.
She shook my hand, “Skye.” Sparky, smart, hot – my brain pounded.
In my nervousness I laughed out loud.
“My parents were hippies, ok, from Scotland.” She laughed then and I felt a bit better. “My father was a gamboler.”
“A gambler?”
“No, no, gamboler, he liked to visit places and gambol – you know – frolic – dance around naked – and this is how he met me Mum.” We both laughed.

She cut some code, I showed her my desk, she thought my bunny clouds were “cuuu-te”, we had a coffee, and fell in love. Some things are meant to be. We moved into a top floor apartment in an old corner of town, and life was great. Still is, by the way, just different.

The first hints that things were changing was when Skye would nag me about turning on the bathroom lights in the morning. “It’s day light, why do you need the lights on to clean your teeth?” I had to admit I had no idea. We went to friends for dinner and I fell down the stairs – they all gave me stick for drinking too much. It wasn’t the drink. Over time I just couldn’t see well in the dark. I noticed after a couple of scary moments that my peripheral vision just didn’t seem that good either – I couldn’t actually remember when it had been – you don’t notice things seeping away.

Opticians became doctors who became specialists and new, unwelcome words crept into our lives. My birth parents left me with a rare legacy. My life my eyesight ebbed away – quietly, uneventfully, finally. I’ll never see myself or Skye get old, and I think this is quite a blessing. We’re working together in developing assistive technologies – our business continues to grow as our population ages. The thing I do miss the most, though, is seeing the clouds. From the top floor we had a great view towards the northwest and the clouds were always tumbling in from the coast. I can imagine seeing them again.

Last night I could hear Skye scratching away at a window. “What are you doing?”
“Remember the window that pigeon slammed into? The one that’s cracked? I’m fixing it.”
“Well, hurry up, let’s go to bed!”
“There’s no rush, it’s tomorrow that’s your birthday, not now.”
I laughed and went to bed. I didn’t worry about turning the lights on to clean my teeth now.

This morning Skye took me to the window. She’d often talk to me about the clouds, knowing how I missed them. “Cumulus, right? Flat along the bottom, big billowy fluffy on the tops, definite edges forming shapes that look like bunnies.” She lifted my hand toward the window. I laughed. “I think it looks more like – I don’t know – perhaps a pillow.”

Manifesto
17. Every day look through a new lens.
18. Every day express love. Some people need to hear it. Most people need to see it. Don’t take it for granted.
48. Every day there are things you can’t change. You can change the way you think about them and deal with them.

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