Happy St. Patrick's Day to the lot of ye! We are blessed today with bright blue skies and the greenest grass (when did that get here?) I've ever seen. March has been really beautiful in Missouri, and since I love the grey, windy days also... It's been sublime.
Caring for a little person post stroke is a roller coaster ride, to say the least. The nurses in the ICU the very first week told us to be prepared for a long, long time of ups and downs, progress and reversals, but the optimist in me always thinks the ups and the progress are here to stay. Mom is doing fine again, but last week wasn't one of our better ones. Pulse rates and debates over medication with the professionals, long hours of dizziness and sleepiness. It just wasn't much fun from Wednesday through Sunday. One night she had a reaction to the medication crushed and inserted into her feeding tube, and we had to do a night of "hypnotalk," the calming babble I sometimes use to soothe my own spirit. I mentally, not physically, took her out on the front porch and discussed the "cars and trucks" going by... From the side of her hospital bed, safe indoors, we talked about the big trucks with the loads of lumber on the back, the little yellow cars and a slow, old farm tractor. My advice is to always, always, listen to the pharmacists even over the doctors because they do know their medicines upside down and downside up. And Imdur can't be crushed.
Finally, on Monday, she was back to her old self. I had even called the 911 ambulance last Wednesday, but they found no reason in the vitals for her heart rate to be so high; her pain in her chest wasn't caused by a heart attack... Our doctor, who is super intelligent but often not Mr. Bedside Manners, says it was positional. I do know she is so overly clenched in her muscles and joints as if she is constantly in a state of isometrics. This week is much, much better, thanks to the weather, the medicine, and massage.
Monday morning was a bit turbulent, and feelings and tempers were a bit roused in these woods. She was a bit angry with just about everyone and everything. Now, I'm sure I don't blame her. She is in her right mind, and she can only move the side of her body that was deteriorated due to arthritis. It really would get on a person's sweet side some days, if not all. After a bit, I asked her if we could think of five good things about something. She said immediately, "Doralee," a dear friend. I said that would be fine, and she proceeded to rattle off many good things about that woman. I had the brainstorm to write them down to send in Easter cards. She went on to several wonderful friends, with my fingers flying to catch every clever word. My mother has a way of nailing a person, for the good or bad. She was spot-on with these good things. We ended up laughing as I penned ten good things about her grandson. "That's plenty!" I assured her.
And then she turned her bright blue eyes to me. "What about you? Where are your good things?" I laughed that it would be hard to find five good things about me, and she shook her head no. "The first thing about you is that you are a good, good caretaker," she announced. I told her that I tried but knew that I often failed miserably. The next words from her mouth floored me, "BUT the main thing about you is that you know how to change the 'color' of a day. Today is now a different color." Now, I've had a lot of compliments, mostly undeserved, but that one is quite special, coming from her and considering the crankiness I often display. I was honored to understand that I had received the credit for changing the color of her day Monday. I also humbly and regretfully admit I've been known to change that color of the day in an uglier way when I'm just a crank. The artist in my soul really drank that up, though... Deserved or not, I accepted it as a gift from my mom.
This is Thursday already, and the weeks keep flying through. Since her coming home, I think it might just be the very first time I looked at time this way. I think most of my life time either didn't exist or it was something between me and an event in the future. Time was some creature of interposition that wanted to be spent in order to get to something pleasant. Now time is rather a gift. I look at each passing day and week and month as time since Mom came home, and I appreciate that span of 24 hours as just that, a gift of the present.. I also slipped these beautiful Fostoria goblets from the china cupboard to accent my Spring table. They are Mom's wedding crystal, unused except maybe a dozen times in my lifetime. Mom wanted them kept sacred. WELL... there they have sat in that cupboard, covered with the dust of neglect and disuse. I made the executive decision that they would not miss another generation. I also chose not to tell Mom. They will be used gently by someone who at least knows the couple who received them August 20th, 1950. I don't want to break them, but I can't stand the thought of these lovely vessels sitting there in an Estate Auction in the future after everyone in my family has no more use for them... and very little use for decades of "treasuring." I don't criticize Mama because that made her happy. Keeping them THAT safe just doesn't make me happy at all. I love to see them sparkle on the table while she loved to wink at them on the shelf in her pretty cupboard.
For fun and relaxation I keep a journal in this traveler's notebook, one insert per month. I draw, doodle, write, plan, and rant in these journals, and they look like a page from a traveling gypsy bag with their water color dyed pages and glimpses of the glory and the gripes of my time indoors...
I also keep a sticker-filled Erin Condren notebook. It's funny that probably now I have less to plan than at any other time, but yet I keep a planner weekly and daily with such joy and random brightness. I purchased this cover for the spring months, and I have a Halloween one to look forward to in the fall. Otherwise, it's a cool and refreshing graphic of paisley medleys. Inside I just note things about the days and plans for the future, menus, lists, daily chores...
I am a YouTube junkie with all its nods to Erin Condren planners and its myriads of lettering techniques yet to attempt. My days are really full, and Mom keeps the nights hopping with her version of sleep schedule scramble.
So... with hours of journals, washi tape, stickers, and what not, it becomes a memorable time of reflection and contentment, this season of care taking. Now yesterday, when her feeding tube spontaneously disconnected from the pump for two and a half hours, the reflection came to an end, and it became necessary to call my son and get some help. He told Mom she felt like a slippery fish. I thought it seemed as if I'd broken a couple dozen eggs into bed with her and scrambled them all... It was a mess! But the magic of cleaning up has made all that a funny memory. We three did a lot, lot of giggling as we sponged and swiped and scrubbed, "lotioned-up" and fluffed new covers everywhere. The washing machine conspired to cover up all traces, so we were good to go in a few minutes.
I try to remember with each gesture and word that I have this awesome "super power" that my mom knighted me with... the power to change the color of a day. I feel like the little cartoon Powder Puff Girl who stood up to the monster ruining the world: "I've GOT CRAYONS!" she roared... Well, so do I... So there!
Whimsy and Hugs!