We miss things. We’re not perfect. This weekend, I missed and messed up many things. The stakes were higher than I thought, required more attention than I had, and I couldn’t reach high enough to show up well for all the things.

In 2022, eleven days of alive mom to go, I was perturbed that I could not reach high enough to help mom. Why was I even there? I wasn’t able to help her with anything.

As I sit to write this journey in review the day after we spread mom’s ashes in her garden, chills. Not because of the ashes. Chills because I couldn’t reach high enough this weekend for all the situations, and reading this, I remember how inadequate I felt on June 2, 2022. 

You can’t serve from an empty cup. You just can’t.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.
blades of grass

Invisible to Everyone Else

I sit on my porch after mowing all the yards and I see it, a patch in my back yard that I missed. It’s hardly noticeable, probably invisible to everyone else, but from this angle and because I was the one who missed it, I see it.

I squirm in my seat for a moment.

But it’s invisible to everyone else.

Should I walk the eighth of a mile to the hangar, retrieve the Kubota, drive back down, open the gate and take down that patch of blades standing invisibly taller than the surrounding blades? One to two seconds of mowing, then back to the hangar, and, thirty minutes later, settle back into my chair on the patio?

Not this time.

I stay put and wonder who might take care of this little something invisible to everyone else. Why would a nearly invisible missed patch of grass niggle at their brain until they marched up the hill to retrieve the mower?

The neck hair

I have a hair that emerges on my neck every two to three months. Just one noticeable hair. It’s blond, short, stiff, and invisible. But it feels like a blister I can’t stop touching, a hangnail I can’t ignore.

As they read this, my friends nod their heads, Ohhh… They’ve seen me fiddle with the neck hair because once I notice this wild eyebrow hair that emerges a few thousand feet south of the eyebrow, I’m distracted until I yank it out with a pair of tweezers.

It’s invisible to everyone else, but I can’t.leave.it.alone. It’s a pain (in the neck).

Invisible torments

I think most people have some invisible-to-everyone-else something that distracts them until they take care of it. That speck of something, the unclosed cabinet door, the toenail, the dishes in the sink…

For mom, it’s the food between her teeth. Invisible to the rest of us, it drives her to distraction, sucking air through her teeth until it’s fixed. Also, the weeds. Everyone else walks by, around, or on them, but mom stops and pulls them up, even where she doesn’t live.

I wonder if she would have come back with the mower to shave off the patch of grass I missed.

As mom’s brain and body fail her, frustration twists her face and tightens her grip. I know her situation has a great hand in her frustrations, but I also think there’s an invisible something niggling at her brain. It might be riddled with Alzheimer’s bullets, but the gears have not locked, and there is something bugging her.

I’m listening, Mom.

Something invisible to us. She tries to tell us, but the letters of her words scatter before the soft hoarse breath crosses her vocal chords. She points, but her focus diminishes, and her index loses its target.

I’m listening, Mom.

I know something’s niggling at her heart.

I tell her I’m okay. We’re okay. I let her know we have food, that we are safe. We have the money.

I tell her she did a great job.

Great game, Mom!

That she scored all the points, made all the assists, won the championship.

But she lingers, with an invisible something pressing on her heart.

An invisible prayer

If I could, I would fetch her Kubota and level whatever invisible patch is niggling at her. Not because I’m anxious for the end or want her gone, but because she doesn’t deserve the agitation of weeds in her walkway, food in her teeth, and that little patch of tall grass that I missed.

I tell mom the things I think she needs to hear and I whisper an invisible prayer for her.

Maybe one day one of us will zero-turn just right and mow down that invisible thing that keeps niggling at her.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2022