• Michelle Cordova

Life Vest...

This is a piece I wrote a few months back. My father's health has declined since writing this. I keep coming back to this piece and I'm not exactly sure why, but here it is.

Thank you for reading.

It’s just after 4a and I’m up writing by my phone light in the front room so I don’t wake Kevin up. I move to the window, filled with the last darkness of night. The traffic light on a quiet Downtown Sacramento street turns the pavement red, green, yellow and back to red again, with no cars there to stop, go, slow and stop again. Everybody is asleep. The way I should be.

My thinking drifts back to the day before when my family and I were working to clean out my elderly father’s apartment and garage in order to downsize his belongings for a new and better living situation. I found the object amongst Dad’s random array of things and it nearly made me laugh out loud at the irony. The object, a U.S. Coast Guard specified, brand new bright orange, unopened, adult sized life vest. Ironic in many ways, but mainly because a walk to get his mail is what qualifies as exercise to my Dad these days. What was my father’s thought process here? Was he afraid of somehow falling into the apartment complex’s gated pool? As far as I knew, he had not been in, near, or around a natural body of water in quite awhile. Yet here it was, a life vest.

“Buoyant” the package reads. Another irony. Yes, buoyant refers to being able to float or rise to the top of liquid, but it also can mean, “cheerful” and “optimistic’, two attributes (I’m sure he would agree), my father does not exhibit.

Maybe the life vest was symbolic to him. Save me! I’m drowning. Maybe it comforted him to have the life vest should he need it. However, in this location, the life vest would never fulfill its purpose of security, protection, and saving a life out on the water. Into the donation pile it went, but for some reason the experience of finding the vest amongst my Dad’s things sticks with me. The mere concept of a life vest. The concept of a life being saved both literally and metaphorically.

I consider all of this as the window lets go of night and fills with the first light of day. A few sleepy cars roll down the street early on Sunday morning as I finish writing this piece.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write about such a random object, and moment in time, but I did, so here it is.

Thank you for reading.


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