I’m writing instead of calling, because I would fall all over myself before I managed to share these words. Today, I’m reverting to my childhood and leaving you a written message. Imagine finding this on the dining room table or taped to the fridge. Maybe on your pillow.
The message is simple:
I see you.
But I need to explain, a trait I inherited from you. So give me a minute.
When I’m there, I mostly spend time with mom, little projects to keep her afloat, errands to go through her grocery list. But, when I’m there, I see you too. I do.
When I write, I mostly write about mom and her battle. But I know, we all know, this is your battle too. She may be the warrior, but you’re her brave body guard.
And inside your armor, I see your heart. It’s breaking.
I’ve always seen you. And even from here, 90 miles away as we shelter at home, I see you.
Isolation suits me. Even in my childhood, sprawled in my room with notes and albums or just playing in the those upper stories of my brain, I was never lonely alone. Another gene you shared with me.
In isolation, I’m nourishing that inner artist child, finishing projects, reflecting. Even as I thrive and go back to my roots in isolation, even from this distance, I see you.
I see you and mom, over there, just two people marooned on 100 acres. Isolation isn’t kind to you. It’s cruel, even. The distance from family and community diminishes her mind and nourishes her disease. That distance from family and community sits heavy on your already-burdened shoulders as you shepherd mom through these lonely days.
I’m grateful that you’re there with mom, and I see you. I know your heart aches under that armor. I know you’re weary from the weight of the armor.
You answer the same questions twenty times a day.
When’s Pennie coming back to take care of the garden?
Where’s my car?
How am I going to manage all that? gesturing the abundance of plants in the garden.
I see you. Patient. Feeling remorse when you lose that for a moment. It’s OK. We do the best we can.
I see you. Managing. The cooking. The money. The farm. The projects. Mom. You’re strong and smart. But some days you’re drained.
Before this, standing at mom’s side to battle the disease was already taking a toll. In isolation, the toll is great. Almost too much.
I see you, and you’re powering through. You gave me that too. Bracing shoulders, mind, whole body and armor, and powering through a tough patch or a challenging project. I see you.
I’m grateful for you.
Thank you for taking her to her neurologist this week.
Everyone in masks. The doc offered an elbow bump instead of a hand shake . . .
She may not tell you, but I know she’s grateful too. Even though the news is heavy, and perhaps a little guarded since she’s with you.
As expected, she did not score well on her test.
But I see you, dad. By her side, every step of the way. In the kitchen. At the doctor. In the grocery. In the garden.
Your world with mom is crumbling in your hands, at your feet, before your eyes, and you are there. I see you. You hold her, help her, shepherd her, encourage her.
When you finally sit alone, isolated in your office, I see you. And it’s OK.
- When you pound an angry fist on your desk, it’s OK. I see your frustration and anger. It’s OK —it’s normal!— to feel angry now.
- When you drop your chin to your chest and just let the tears come, I see you. It’s OK to feel sadness and grief.
- Sometimes you find the isolation in your office comforting, and you sigh. Relieved. Alone at last. I see you. And it’s OK. It’s OK to take a break, to replenish, to be happy alone for a minute.
You shield her from your emotions, tucking the anger, the grief, and the relief, that mob of emotions, deep inside your armor. It’s OK to shield her. But I hope you know, I see you.
That’s all. I just want you to know I
see love you.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.
Penny, you have such a way with words. This was so sweet yet heartbreaking because I know how bad that isolation is for your mom. Rest up in these days when you can do nothing else you will need it down the road. You’re a beautiful, wonderful daughter!
Really beautiful. I am so grateful that there is something each day to remind me of the virtues and woders of my dad. Gone 10 years, and mother gone five. I still lean on their advice from the past. BTW, Mother would be 101 tomorrow! Good post.
Wow Pennie! That is so beautiful! Love you!
This is so beautiful, Pennie. Word for word what I wish I could say to my dad who nursed my mother through the many stages that are Parkinson’s. He handled everything. And I know it wasn’t easy.
I remember the almost daily phone calls when he would ask if I could please, please tell my mother that I was at home in Edmonton and not sitting on the couch and refusing to come to the table for dinner.
And, oddly enough, I saw his growth. The late-life development of patience ‘because there was no other choice’.
They are both home now, and I wish daily I could tell him.
I feel blessed I have this time to let them both know all these things.
Wow! Your words are so thought-provoking to a man that is so used to being able to analyze and “right” any situation that faces him! When turned around, they are also priceless to a beautiful, caring daughter! Luv y’all! Prayers continue for strength, guidance, wisdom, courage and comfort for each of you. Luv y’all!