Mom still loves visits.
Her fight to show up for us remains fierce. I can’t say I show up for visits with her ferocity.
It’s spring, and dad and I have impossible to-do lists that crowd our sleep and our clocks, an evil formula at work: the longer the list of to-dos, the deeper the craving for sleep. Can I take a nap? Sleep on it? But the pressure to get through the list and all the other things that crop up wins.
Mom wants to move around, visit, see familiar faces around a table. A few short minutes of a visit brightens the rest of her day. But we’re leaning harder on the sitters to sub in for our time with mom.
She’s calling for you.
On Monday, I stopped in on my way out. Not a good formula for a sit-with-me visit.
“She was calling for you this morning,” the sitter told me.
I hardly saw mom on Saturday and Sunday, and here it is Monday and I’m breezing through with a kiss and a promise: “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
I channeled mom most of the weekend as I scrambled to catch up, doing all the things she used to do! Chasing blades of grass with the Husqvarna, sawing volunteer trees out of the fence row, attacking weeds in the flower beds, hauling sand for the beds, repotting bulbs, watering… And company. Gotta cook! Did I make the tea?
I felt close to mom but I wasn’t. As I caught my breath, maneuvered the mower, used my teeth to pull briars from my skin, and shook under the saw blade, mom was far away, in her living room recliner sitting with her Alzheimer’s and the sitter.
I’m not even close.
“She called for you,” the weekend sitter told me when I finally stopped by for a few minutes on Sunday.
All that time not sitting with mom, and I didn’t even come close to catching up.
Where is the balance between virtue and grace? The virtue of getting through a to-do list and RL obligations vs. the grace of stopping for a minute, to sit still and be present?
Just sit with me. You can see the longing in her eyes and gestures.
But the grass is high, and I have a deadline. Also, I started this new thing…
Can I bring my computer?
Just sit with her can be the hardest thing when I give gravity and favor to my “things.”
“She’s been calling for you.” My soul shrinks with these words. Like Raymie’s in Raymie Nightingale, it becomes as tiny as a period.
I’m only in the middle of Kate DiCamillo‘s book, so I’m not sure of the fate of Raymie’s soul. I do know that this soul shrinking business is uncomfortable.
I want soul expansion, a billowing tent that catches fresh air. She’s been calling for you drives home a truth: my choices are the breath that expand and collapse my soul.
The yard is done. Yay me. But if my soul feels like it’s disappearing, so what? Where is the grace in the virtue of a mowed yard when She’s been calling for me?
I’m annoyed with myself but glad mom asked after me. It’s a good reminder: schedule more visits.
I’ve revised this week’s to-dos to include buying some ice cream on a stick (mom’s joy), sitting, strolls, and puzzles. I’ll probably squirm some, uncomfortable, so many important things to do. But I’ll sit with my discomfort too until I find a better answer.
In a world pressurized by electricity, devices, deadlines, and the wild growth of grasses, weeds, and existential crises, my soul yearns for more than virtue of jobs well-done. Surely grace visits when we sit still.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022
A caregiver walks a tightrope every day. You are doing the best you can and I know you will follow your heart. Your heart will know.
So very important! I’m driven by goals! But now, looking back over the last six years, I’m SO grateful I took the time to drive to Daddy’s for the weekend and just…visit. I changed this poem by Ruth Hurlburt Hamilton, (given to me when I had my lists and my little people were…little) to remind me of how important time with Daddy was:
Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But parents grow old, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
I’m sitting with Mama. Mamas don’t keep.
I love this poem! I may have to print and post it close to where I “work” away the days.
I remember when my dad had late-stage Parkinson’s, it was hard sometimes just to ‘sit and visit.’ In this age especially, it’s hard to be still and there for someone without thinking of all the errands that call to us. Very human.
Very hard to sit still. But so necessary.