Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The one about being needed and not being needed and dancing with Alzheimer's.

I can't say I wanted it to happen, but I was glad it did. I blame Golden Corral. A special treat for the kids who eat all the meals at home, we visited the buffet of bacteria the night we drove around looking at Christmas lights because Annual Traditions. They are paramount. 

When you wake up and blink the blur of tedium from your eyes and realize the hours have tumbled into years and somehow, the daily that was so pressing in the moment is long forgotten, you still have the traditions that infuse depth and meaning to hold onto. Then you understand, you can no longer summon the frustration you once held over the mud they tracked in the house, nor can you quite remember the ten thousandth game of uno you played or the way they forgot to scoop the cat litter (again) or all those pencils and markers and scraps of paper and candy wrappers strewn about the floor all the blessed time and you can't quite bring to mind the thousand pictures they drew you with crooked hearts all over them, but you remember those holiday lights you saw together. 

She woke up that night with a stomach ache, an excuse to cuddle in bed with mom and dad until the contents began spilling over. Then, huddled over the porcelain throne she would remain until the light of day, with the only one person on this earth she wanted, craved, needed. Her mommy.  I would rub her back and wash her hands and face and soothe her woes with my softest words. When it was over I would draw her a bath with rose castile soap and lavender oil and I would brush her wet hair and put on a movie for her in my room and offer her crackers and I would love her more than ever for allowing me the most precious gift of my life - to be needed - the ability to nurture. For some reason, I never properly appreciated it with my older kids. I think I may have even resented it at times. It was too much, I guess. I was too overwhelmed, too tired, too delirious from bearing up under the heavy workload, too busy with dependent little ones everywhere I turned my head. Oh, I was needed. But it wasn't a sweet, gentle usefulness that only I could provide. It was more demanding and wearisome and relentless and constant than I would have preferred. The little one, she is my wealth, my gift, my chance to make things right, to be who I always wanted to be because I can think straight now. Age has given me perspective and the tiniest bit of wisdom that understands, there are things far more important than sleep. 

She gets the best of me. It's just the way it is.  

The Ethiopian one, she wants me far less, but I insist she must allow my physical presence, if nothing else. Her heart is hard to reach, it turns from me defensively every chance it gets. She pushes and pushes and pushes. Hard. I feel I can do nothing, not a single thing right. My feelings ache. Rejection aches. When my small, wounded self crawls out of its pitiful hole, I act as the grown up I ought to be and I let her know, I am here. When she is ready. Should she ever become ready. Should she ever decide to need me in any way at all, I will be here, eager to lend a hand, to offer my heart. It's always open to her. I will never let it close, no matter what. 

After watching Alive Inside, about how music is being used as a highly effective therapy for Alzheimer's patients, I've begun my Alzheimer's playlist. Seeing the documentary took me right back to the days I worked in a nursing home throughout high school, speaking of gifts. Such a tremendous experience. At the time, I didn't understand all that I was learning about life and death and lonliness and love and intergenerational relationships and basic human connection that I would recollect throughout the years of my adulthood. I adore the elderly. I hope to one day become one because the documentary was right, we are born to age. My husband assures me he will play my music often for me and we will dance, should my mind become seized with the loss of who we are. A jig or two during Pink's So What or Fun's We are Young or Tag Team's Hip Hop Hooray or Babyface's Two Occasions might do the trick. He assures me he'll take care of me (when I ask for the millionth time if he will.) "Of course I'll take care of you. You are our treasure," he says.

A tear wells up in my eye and I think to myself, goodness. That about sums it up. 

This is really all I've wanted in this life, to be a treasure to my people. 

May it please be true. 

1 comment:

Courtney Cassada said...

oh. i SO get this. sawyer gets the best of me, too. for all the same reasons. and others that i also know are true in both of our hearts (that you didn't state ;-)) i feel guilty about it sometimes. and thankful for it all the time. thankful for a love that i can't NOT have...when i have other kids in my home that i would give just about anything to have a glimmer of that same love for...

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