Saturday, May 10, 2014

My Mother's Hands

I recently scanned this old photo into my computer and really LOOKED at it.  As I did, I looked down and realized -- I have my Mother's hands.  My fingers do not yet bend with the arthritis that twisted her little fingers, but my hands are hers.  My fingers are short and made for function and not beauty.  They serve me daily - - as a tool with which I earn a living. They work to create things of beauty that I joyfully give as gifts of the heart.  I have my Mother's hands  . . . . I hope she is proud of how I use them.

This year is apparently the 100th anniversary of the first Mother's Day.  It is also the 7th anniversary of my first Mother's Day without my Mom in this world.  Don't get me wrong.  I KNOW she is still beside me and that she watches my child grow into a young woman with glee, joy and pride.  But, damn, I miss her voice and her calm counsel.  In the 45 years I was blessed to have my Mother, I think I only saw her 'lose it' a handful of times.

The first was well-deserved and aimed at me.  I was in kindergarten and a bit more adventurous than most 5 year olds.  It seems that I decided to go to a friend's house after kindergarten ended for the day.  A friend's house that was across a large field from our house.  A friend's house I had never been to before.  It was like one of the Bad Idea Bears was whispering in my ear.  So I merrily toddled off to my friends house with her.  Now, I guess I should explain that in 1967 we walked to and from kindergarten by ourselves.  Really.  We did.  It was a small town with minimal traffic and the school was only 3 or so blocks from my house.  The Bad Idea part of this adventure was I had NOT asked my Mom before hand.  I just did not go home.  After a while Mrs. A. figured out that I was AWOL from home and called my Mom.  During that time, my Mom had been calling all the 'usual' suspects -- my Grandma, my regular friends.  No luck.  She also was enduring one of her '3-day' headaches, which I now realize were likely hormone induced migraines (I've experienced one or two myself).  She walked across the field to get me from my friend's house and took me home.   I had never seen her angry before.  I've been told I received my one and only spanking that day, but I don't remember.

The next time I saw her temper flare was after my Grandmother's death and it involved her siblings.  Really, enough said there.

The last time I recall seeing her blow her stack was when I was in my early 20s and had been unceremoniously dumped by a boyfriend.  She used words I did not even know she knew.  In fact, I think she offered to do grevious bodily harm to him [if he's reading this he can thank me for convincing my Mom if she killed a COP, she would go to jail].  She calmed down and instead of going after the man involved, she sent me off to California to my Aunt's to recover.

So, when I say, my Mom was calm . . .she truly was.  Through the many adventures me and my siblings sent her way - - including marriages and divorces, babies and infertility, broken hearts and broken spirits, addictions and recoveries -- we pretty much covered it all. She had the gift of letting us vent and then quietly directing us toward our own answers -- which we pretty much figured out on our own.  She was the 'invisible hand' in our lives.

She left this world just as my life fell to pieces.  So it goes, I guess. I suddenly became the ADULT.  As painful as it was, it was necessary.  I know that.  But sometimes the loss, the pain . ..  it crawls to the surface and I sob and cry and rail against the Universe that sent these life lessons my way.  I guess that is just the way it is.

This year has been hard. . . I'm not sure why, but it has.  It began when I found myself standing in front of card display at Chapters with tears running down my face.  My sorrow at my loss has been just under the surface all week.  I know it is MY loss -- my Mother is free and is beside me.  She was beside me today when my beautiful daughter -- who reminds me more and more of my Mom every day -- bared her soul at the City poetry slam competition bringing not only me, but much of the audience to tears.  She was there watching my child celebrate with her team members -- holding up the grand prize trophy -- a troupe of amazing young almost-adults who spoke without fear and with passion.  My Mom smiled with me as I watched my child take another step toward adulthood.

Tomorrow is Mothers' Day -- the 100th one -- but for me TODAY was Mother's Day -- I watched as my child took another step toward the Woman she will become.  Thanks Mom -- for showing me how to do it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Down a Rabbit Hole

Every so often the chronic pain condition I have lived with since my early twenties likes to sneak up on me and whack me on the head . . . and the back . . . and the feet . . . and the elbows . . . and the knees . . . you get the picture.  Because I have around 30 years' experience with this particular demon, I have built into my life escape ramps that allow me to pull over to the side of the road and weather the flare ups with minimal damage to my life.

Friends and family who have known me for a long time know that when I am gripped at the throat by my nemesis they cannot expect much from me.  My energy stores and number of functional hours per day are limited.  Unfortunately, since I have to earn a living, the functional hours generally get used up at work, where I need to get things done and appear to be paying attention (as opposed to being curled up in a ball under my desk).  This leaves little energy or patience for hearth and home.

I am in the first real flare since my new guy and I have been involved.  I've had 'mini-flares' -- where things clear up within a day or so -- a couple of times.  But not one as hard hitting as what I've been experiencing the last few days.  The fatigue and body pain are in the forefront.  I hold it together at work. . . and even manage to get things done and done well.  Once I get home. . . different story altogether.  Expectant faces wanting dinner are disappointed.  Expectant faces wanting long walks in the bark park are disappointed.  But not as disappointed as I am.  But I focus on not letting my frustration add another layer of discomfort to my already full plate of blah.

My body is a map of pain . . . my feet feel like they have been crushed in a vise, my back aches, my shoulders are in knots.  I have spent the entire day holding it together -- pushing the pain down and focusing on my job.  I have cracked jokes and laughed - - to distract myself.  By the time the work day ends, my ability to suppress the pain is wearing thin.  When I walk through the door my first thought is that I just want to keep walking to my bed and go to sleep.

So now I am doing the things I know will shorten the flare -- I am sleeping - - as much as I can.  I am not pushing myself, even when I feel like maybe I can.  I know the outcome will be a longer flare.  I am waiting patiently for my body to respond positively.  It will happen.  Things will improve.  The important thing is to focus on the movement toward healing and not the place I am now at.