Perhaps it was late summer, even early fall. At any rate, it was a time not unlike this one. I was a teenager, sitting in the living room of our home on Birch Lake. We had moved there from our small farm the year before. I know it was after dark, that a lamp or two was on for reading. I don't know why, but I remember the low light. My mother was on the phone with my grandmother, her mother. I could only hear my mother's part of the conversation, but from the questions she asked and the tone of her voice, I knew something was happening outside the realm of normal. My father and I waited quietly in order to try to understand what event was altering our world.
When my mother hung up the phone, she turned towards where we were sitting. "Pa" had gone out after dark to look for his sheep, sheep that had been gone for many years. My grandmother had not been able to convince him of this, could not bring him back to the present. She didn't know where he was and needed help in finding him.
My grandfather, Moses, had raised sheep during much of his life and often, as a child, I had helped move them from pasture to pasture. It was a time of what seemed to be perpetual sunshine, with the wonderful feeling of warm wool between my fingers. But, that night would become the rest of his life: a sad and not-so-slow decline into dementia. Within three years he would be gone from this world.
In the interim, life changed dramatically for them: from a small farm to a small apartment in town, just a few miles to the north of where we had, for many years, shared a dirt road. From there, it was the nursing home, and it's not too hard to imagine the changes that wrought....
That night, my father went down to their farm and found my grandfather roaming around the hillside near his barn, still looking for his lost sheep. I couldn't tell you what happened immediately after. Perhaps my father simply returned to the house with him, hoping he would remain in the present long enough for a solution to be found. Maybe he went to the hospital for observation. I don't know. I don't remember. I do remember the look on my mother's face when she hung up the phone, as she realized what had happened, that her life, as she had known it, had forever changed.
Here's Enya's "Shepherd Moons." Shepherd moons are the small moons around ringed planets, such as Saturn. Their gravity is what keeps the rings organized and defines their borders, thus filling their role as "shepherds." This link, which I found very interesting, describes them: http://www.helium.com/items/2092512-what-is-a-shepherd-moon-and-what-does-it-do
Image: Winslow Homer's "Whittling Boy." It's one of my favorites. I love the sunshine on his straw hat, his high boots, the green leaves....