Friday, July 5, 2013

A Semblance of Normal



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
Feeling nothing but the weight of my little boy against me, my eyes follow the drifting dust tails of a thousand white diamonds that shimmer across the black sky, illuminating the night with what once was.
* * *

*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.

28 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you had a wonderful day. Just as it's meant to be.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are the days that will live forever in your memories. Grab all you can!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am so glad you had a wonderful day with your family!! Thank you, I needed to read this today. I have been feeling a bit lost with all the issues my daughter has, and the looming death of a beloved aunt. I needed this reminder that all we have is now and to enjoy it as much as humanly possible!!! Much love to you!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. smiles...i am glad you had a good day...and that the memories that came were good ones...of times you did just the same with her...smiles.

    we made home made ice cream...yum

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love, love, love that you parade for her! <3

    ReplyDelete
  6. The way you write, you just took us all there with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Casey, what more could we ask for, then a witness to our days. xo

      Delete
  7. You are giving such a gift to yourself, your kids, your mother... in telling these stories.

    Gorgeous.

    H

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love that you share your mother with us with your words and stories. I feel like a little part of me knows her, and that little part of me is very happy that you gave her a parade.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love the way you recorded every bit of this day, this time, the tough and the beautiful. Your writing, as always, touches my heart.

    ReplyDelete
  10. this is so beautiful.

    i love you.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your words make me shudder. You have such a way with them, Alexandra. I feel as though I can't ever stop by here without letting you know how much they move me. Deeply.

    Sometimes *things* just have to wait. Basement shelves. Cleaning projects. The phone calls and the emails. For now, you focus on that sweet and beautiful family of yours. XOXO and wishing you all the best for the weekend ahead.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're such a lovely writer, Alexandra. Almost as lovely as you are a human being.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a lovely post. No one captures the preciousness of daily existence like you, Alexandra.

    XOXO
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you, Anna. YOu are such an encouraging presence in my life. I hope I see you again, soon.

      Delete
  14. Stunning truth and beauty of the day. Thank you, Alexandra. You helped me remember what it was like to watch fireworks with Jack for the last time 2 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anna, it is you who has stunned me. xo

      Delete
  15. Sounds like a perfect day. I may follow your lead and do the same today. It's 92 and humid here. A perfect day to savor an afternoon of doing nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't know why this made me cry. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Beautiful. A good reminder for all of us to slow down and appreciate our many blessings and simple pleasures.

    ReplyDelete
  18. "Feeling nothing but the weight of my little boy against me, my eyes follow the drifting dust tails of a thousand white diamonds that shimmer across the black sky, illuminating the night with what once was."...this is stunning. What an incredible day and you shared it so beautifully. I felt every second, every heartbeat of this.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such beautiful beautiful post, Alexandra. Thank you for sharing this with us. This one hits home so much for me as you can see. Much love to you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ithought of you when it went up, Mo. xo

      Delete
  20. What an absolutely beautiful day. I've been rushing through the days, too busy to stop. Too busy to enjoy and certainly too busy to find such beauty in my words. I'm so glad I took a moment to read the beauty of your words.

    Also I forgot you were from Columbia! One of my good friends is moving there for a year to teach. She leaves in a week!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think that there is a time and place for everything and slowing down, being inside a space of time where you are just "THERE" is a good thing.

    your words were beautiful, just as your day was.
    xo

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails