Two years ago, a developer bought up a farm down the road a piece. He cleared the corn stalks, graded it into gentle rolling hills, ran a nice access road into it...and put up fancy signs about 7 custom-built estates with 20 acre lots each.
Here's how he is doing with that.
About a week ago on a sunny Saturday, with just a bit of chill burning off, I was tramping through the upper left corner of this picture. My mom called distraught about my dad. A former reference librarian, she did not remember how to call an ambulance. She did know to run down the hall to Charlie, "because he is always having to take his wife to the hospital."
Like a bad three-act drama, the emergency room set turned into the second floor acute care unit, and then into rehab on the fourth floor of something ironically called the "Health Center." That would be institutional euphemism for nursing home (the fifth floor, for dementia patients, is called "The Garden.")
He progresses slowly, but at nearly 88 years old, "progress" is also a euphemism. This man, who never met a medical intervention he didn't like, refused further invasive diagnostic procedures. And he's become a bit giddy with self-management, like a two-year-old who just discovered the word "no," refusing things just to see if he can.
I sit with my father in this place, literally and figuratively. Unless I have to deal with the disorganization of this organization, so that he gets the promised haircut, the necessary nail trimming. I sit with my mom in her place. Which usually includes an endless loop of 1) torturing my father with grapes, tangerines, and the whatever cookies she manages to steal from the lounge; 2) nagging him to stop sleeping so much.and 3) asking me why he is here. When she agrees to leave his side, we go to the movies, we share a meal somewhere.
My other commitments have proven stressful, not nourishing. So I dropped my class at rabbinical school and I pulled out of volunteering at the nursing home. (Actually, I AM volunteering at a nursing home, just for a party of two instead of a whole room.) For the first time in my life, I make a conscious choice not to busy myself with to-do lists that will subversively distract me from my feelings. Because everything is changing and a world I knew is coming to end. Distractions will not prevent that and so I might as well be fully and truly present.
Little by little, I test out the hypothesis that I won't die from feeling sad.
I take breaks for that which comforts me: hiking, stitching, getting winter camp in place. My socializing is skeletal and primarily canine. (Himself is tickled to learn that he made the short list of people I can tolerate at the moment.
"Wow," he hums as he pushes out his chest in pride. "My wife can TOLERATE me!"
I remind him that the list is in pencil.
And above all, I try to spend sunrise in the field that the developer built me.
(((Julie))) little did the land developer know that this space to walk and just be is such a gift for you now, love that your list of tolerable people is in pencil and that your sense of humour holds through the sadnessReplyDelete
But I will kill the first person who buys a lot there, that's for sure.Delete
It takes courage to open oneself to sadness. it so often resembles the basic gray lead color of a pencil. It takes love to know that being present is what we do, is how we live our life fully with all that it brings, changes, harbingers of loss. May colored pencils come into play, now and then Julie and may you know, as you do, that the permanent ink of having years with parents, is a gift.ReplyDelete
Its not only grey, its so damn heavy. But then the colored pencils...today, the sun on the gold leaves.Delete
And yes, I do know I received a gift. It all flows.
the Field of FeelingsReplyDelete
That's what I will call it from now on. Do you think the developer will notice if I put up new signs?Delete
how now, on the 4th time through, i can just look at the photographs andReplyDelete
FEEL your words you gave....
looking forward to the next move through it all,
this will hold me today as i keep coming back
Today the word was probably another 2 weeks in Rehab. And what is so startling is that he basically is recuperating from 5 days in the hospital and all the loss of muscle mass that occurs in the elderly when that happens!Delete
Oh Julie....I feel your sadness washing through me too. Thank goodness for open fields and colored skies.ReplyDelete
All summer it held raspberries. Everyone else here was buying them for 4.99 a pint. I picked gallons.Delete
I'm glad you've been able to pare back so much that might otherwise distract you from all that is happening with and to you and your parents ... so many of us have been where you are, each of us with different stories that are all the same. Peace be with you.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Liz. I've read these stories over the past years, always knowing I was in the line. Paring back, yes.Delete
different stories, all the same. yes...and this is why it is such a lovingDelete
thing to tell these stories to each other....it is great Comfort...
Very much soDelete
This is beautifully written.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Nancy. You can't go wrong typing from the heart,I think.Delete
i am so there with you. remembering. i like the droplet picture.ReplyDelete
My mother used to say that some things are better off forgotten.Delete
It is difficult and at the same time a gift you are there, for them as well as for yourselfReplyDelete