For the past year, I've been living life in a grabbing at time whenever I can get it way. Taking care of my mother in hospice, my life has become one built around my daily visits to her. She needs me, and she is in the front seat of any activity or anything else going on in my life. Someday, when there's time, I'll tell you of the gratitude I have for my mother, who brought my grandmother to this country to escape what she was barely surviving in Colombia.
But not today.
Today, I'll tell you how I did nothing off of the 100 page I-need-to-do-this-today list and instead, I floated.
I floated on the gentle waves of the day, never breaking the fragile surface's tension to dive down to return emails, make phone calls, or get any rearranging of shelves done. All of that, I left far below... as I drifted, my hands trailing softly along in the sweet current of today. Early morning began with a walk with my youngest and turned into a wheezing filled attempt at a run as I tried to keep up with the lungs of a ten-year-old boy, something that made him double over in delicious laughter.
Today, our small town held its Mayberry R.F.D.-like annual 4th of July parade, and my family and I were there in our chairs to watch the local boy scouts and soccer clubs march through our ten block business route, tossing out candy to the crowd. Half way through the parade, I always end up telling my children to stand because the Special Olympics representatives march past and when the State Champs of anything pass us on the route, we acknowledge them.
I did no cleaning, no errands. My shoulders were made tender by the sun, and I smelled summer in the hamburgers that my husband and oldest boy grilled. I tasted the moment of this suspended time in the roasted corn that burned my fingertips as I pulled the cobs off the coals. We laughed as we looked at my youngest's pile of corn cobs on his plate that could have passed for a lumberjack log jam. In the middle of our backyard table I had placed my grandmother's sweet mandarin orange and carrot salad, a favorite from when I was young, and now it's my children's. There wasn't a single spoonful left.
We left in the early afternoon to visit my mother, and at one o'clock, we held a miniature parade for her outside on a 70 degree perfect day, the three of us waving the small flags we had brought along. We high stepped past her in her wheelchair, as she stifled giggles watching my oldest son salute her. He had found drum and bugle corps music on the iPad and we played it loud. Her eyes grew wet with the joy of the day. Come July 20, we'll be back here for her and we'll hold an Independence Day parade for her country, Colombia -- on their day of celebrating freedom. We'll leave here now, and tonight, when we're back home, we'll watch fireworks from the hill where they launch and we'll marvel, as we do every year, at how the bursts of rockets fill the sky.
Snatching at time when I can, thinking of nothing else while I'm in these days of caring for my mother, but trying to remember every heartbeat of our moments. This has become our semblance of normal as we all tend to her.
This season is a bittersweet one of marking our days, everything resonating in a deep awareness. Like how her hands are still as soft as silk, like my youngest son's are, as she tells us good-bye and taking our hands, presses them against her face. Her eyes closed, I see her trying to imprint these days as hard as I do.
Dusk arrives, and with rolled up blankets under our arms, we find our place on the hill at the park. Anticipating the thunder of the opening fireworks, my son's small hands slip into mine, his back against my chest for support. The excited crowd's chattering rises as the sky grows darker, and my little boy leans into me, both of us whispering how our favorite part is when the fireworks first break open, the colors zigzagging like fireflies.
We sit, eager for the celebration tonight, propped up on our elbows on the maroon and green plaid picnic blanket my mother gave us 18 years ago when my oldest son was first born. My hands feel the familiar fabric, and tears slip down the sides of my cheek as I remember the number of times she sat with us on this blanket while on picnics and trips to the park.
A hush falls over the crowd as we hear the whoosh of the first rocket launched. A glorious firework as large and full as a chrysanthemum bursts open and a million lights fill the expanse of the velvet sky. The boom from the first flash cracks in the night sky, and twinkling embers slowly trail away in the darkness, then flicker away with an echo settling deep in my chest.
|My mother today on our visit July 4, 2013|
* * *
*I'm stopping back here to say, that less than three weeks later, my mother has passed. Thank you all, for sharing, and holding me up, through this time of caring for her. I am grateful for my community.