I held her hand like we did when she was little, me driving the car, her riding along beside me, close  — my oldest daughter and I — moving down Freeway 5 South from L A to San Diego, clomping through the carpool lane, flying though concrete corridors in the night, going home together.

Earlier in the day, we both held my mom’s hand in the skilled nursing center, perhaps and quite probably for the last time, the ultimate bonne bouche — her hand white, veined, shriveled; our hands pink, smooth and thick around hers —  and we both kissed her on the forehead and said, “I love you mom,” and she said, “I love you.” My mom is 90 and she is dying.

Today, New Years Day, 2018, my wife and I finished up the remodeling of our guest bedroom. We  moved stuff out of the room to simplify it, fixing one last damaged spot by spraying texture on it and painting it. We hung pictures, arranged furniture  — beautiful, clean, restored.

After working together, my wife Linda and I sat downstairs over coffees and reflected on the week. We hosted my brother and his wife as guests in our home, took them to the zoo, ate good food together and talked, talked, talked.  We celebrated my youngest daughters engagement by hosting her finance on Christmas Day with with good food and good talk and by sitting close. We also finished the bedroom remodel, and we made that trip to L A to see my mom and dad.

In his book The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee writes, Great Science emerges out of great contradiction.” So does all great living. Our family, full of contrasts, contradictions, differing directions, in morte and de novo.

One moves toward death, one begins a new phase of life. Some things old we fix, others we let go — with some tears involved. We move forward, we move back and we shuffle in place too.

As my wife and I sat at the kitchen table this morning, we discussed our family values, our competing, sometimes contradictory familial values. We talk, that’s one value, and then talk some more. We value simplicity, but we also value quality. We value connection; we also give space for independence. We value adventure; we also nurture stability.

Equipoised, fractal, hopeful — we think ahead; we make plans, we make friends with realities. My mom will die this year, one daughter will marry, we will all move toward increasing independence. We will try to stay close, but we will also try to be gentle with movement.

And we will keep holding hands and talking as we adventure out and as we keep holding hands and as we keep letting go and as we keep taking up hands again.

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