Saturday, April 30, 2011

Living Until You Die-When Love Overwhelms Me

It has been almost a year since I moved into my house. I know my neighbor felt some happiness and pain as she sold me her mother's house. Her mother had died. I am the new tenant.

She not only left me a clean, orderly house, she left extras. The mat in front of the front door. The lacy window curtains--waterproof-- over the window in the shower. The egg holder in the cleaned refrigerator. Just little things. But I felt so welcome to the new (to me) house.

Even then, she was fighting cancer. She didn't have much energy. But she left me a clean, welcoming house.

Now, in the fourth year of her battle, she is losing. Her husband has taken off six weeks to stay with her. She still gets up and out as she can to tend her garden, to welcome so many coming by to see her.

I see a lot from my screened front porch.

The other day, we had a break in the sometimes stormy weather, and he wheeled her out to the end of the block in her wheelchair.

They made it to the corner and turned back. When they reached my yard, her husband called, "Charlotte, shut your eyes!"

He stepped into my yard to cut a spray of blooming red roses, and scraped the thorns, then handed them to his wife, so tenderly.

I called out,"I won't hide my eyes. It is good for mature women to see romance."

And in a strong voice , his wife replied,"Yes, it is."

She lifted her roses to sniff.

And we all laughed, and he wheeled her home.

And my eyes stung.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Little Heat Comes Into The Mix

I know I live in a very large state, bigger than most foreign countries, bigger than the other states (no sneer), just big.
As of last night, more than 1.4 million acres have burned, 1 million estimated since April 1. The fires are all over. The big one at Possom Kingdom Lake mesmerizes the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Over 150 homes destroyed, many busineses, at least 3 churches. The state park is 90 per cent destroyed. Fires are 70 miles away. They think--THINK!--they won't reach the metroplex. That is this fire. There are many others.
How big is this state? We have now burned much more than than the land-span of Rhode Island. Most of Texas survives.
How scared am I? Not much. Not for me or mine.
Last night, I got a call from a friend that her daughter had tentative evacuation orders. The daughter is near Weatherford, where fires are close. My friend here has a one-bedroom cottage. I have two bedrooms, one with a trundle, and a large backyard,significant because they would be bringing three children, three dogs, four goats, four hens and 14 chicks.
So far, they haven't had to come. The daughter went to work today and took the kids in case evacuation orders ensued. My friend and I have smoothed out emergency procedures.
This is one family, which puts faces for me on the others.
Losing everything. Well, in the US, we have insurance, and some don't have that, but. I haven't heard that anybody starves. Often, we can rebuild.
Possom Kingdom Lake State Park won't recover for years. Neither will many of the victims.
I grieve. Of course I grieve. and I worry. And I marvel.
How fortunate we are.

When Easter Means A Whole New World

A year or so ago, I asked my youngest grandchild what her favorite holiday was.

Given her penchant for all things art, I wasn't too surprised when she said Easter, but I asked her why.

She talked about coloring and drawing designs, and making beautiful eggs. I smiled. Pure her.

And then she said,"And that is why we use eggs to celebrate Easter. Because on Easter--- Jesus hatched!"

A happy hatching to you.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

When a Grandchild Gets Hurt on Your Watch

The visceral scream of a child in major pain is indescribable. We recognize it, even if we haven't heard it before.

I first heard it when my oldest son was five. We were moving, and I was packing up the kitchen. He went outside to play. And then, there was this train whistle of sound as he ran for me, his right arm now W shaped. He had fallen out of a tree, breaking his arm and dislocating the elbow. I was pretty calm. I called the emergency room and told them we would need an orthopedist. I called his dad, in a meeting, asking him to meet us. This was before cell phones, and all calls were long-distance. I mention this because I never dropped a digit.

While we waited for the orthopedist, who of course wasn't contacted till we arrived, I remember my son whispering, " I didn't know my body could break."

But it did, and he recovered.

Yesterday, I picked my granddaughter up from school. She turned nine on Sunday, got a near-perfect report card on Friday (one 88), had her snack, and finished her homework. She said she was going outside, and went out the back door. I didn't worry. There's a tree there she has been climbing all year.

I was going through her binder, checking for news and any other assignments that might be coming up. But the tree had a dead branch and it broke. She fell about eight feet on her back before her head hit the dry, clay soil lawn.

I heard the screams. I didn't recognize them at first. She rushed in, tear-streaked, clutching her head.I checked for blood. None. Checked for broken. None. Pulled her into my lap, holding her tight. She clutched her head. She couldn't tell me what hurt, or where. Except her head, all over. So much pain scared her. It scared me, too.

Later, as the pain in her head subsided, she realized her back hurt, too. I had her take off her shirt and found a scrape on her shoulder. No ribs, no vertabrae, seemed to hurt. Then I called her dad, who was on duty. I put her on the couch, got her some juice, put cartoons on and went outside, where I found the broken branch and realized the fall was only eight feet or so, not higher as I had feared.

Her dad, when he checked her out, found her eye movement jerky, her balance unsteady. She suddenly said she might need to throw up. She didn't, but he called her mother at work, called the doctor, who has started some evening appointments, and coordinated wife, child and his mother meeting at the doctor's office.

I couldn't believe how much better she was an hour later. Her eyes tracked. Her balance was good. Left knee reflex? Not so great, but the rest was good. No diagnosis of concussion. Free to go to school. No restrictions on play. Well, I have some. I'll be discreet. At least, now the trees have leafed out, she will notice the dead branches.

Both of us had a shock, and we need time to recover. Just because it turned out well doesn't mean there wasn't pain and a crisis. She had a lot of pain, We were both very afraid, if only for a short while. So, we will be gentle with ourselves for a day or two.

That's really okay.