Saturday, April 3, 2021

Please Remember Me

Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour or so sitting with my mom, in her bright and cheery room at Yoder House, playing favorite hymn collections on CD. She mostly dozed, but woke to share non-sequiturs from time to time. This was our first unsupervised, non-distanced visit in about fourteen months. We are both fully vaccinated.

“Are you done cleaning the room?” she asked me, after I’d wheeled her into her bedroom from the common area where I’d greeted her. 

“It’s all ready for you,” I responded, side-stepping the question as I opened the blinds of both windows, and cracked the window facing Park Woods for a bit of fresh, cool air. 

On my prior two visits in February, one with my brother Donald, we both got smiles and what seemed to be recognition that we are family. Those were scheduled visits, so it’s possible that the staff talked us up beforehand. 

This visit was more serendipitous, in that the window for drop-ins had just closed for two weeks the day prior because of a couple of positive Covid tests. My special permission visit fit the loophole for “compassionate care”.

“Thanks for your communication,” the email from the VP of Supported Living read. “You understand our dilemma fully. If you would still like to come today I will let the house know you have been approved for a compassionate care visit with Doris. Just let me know.”

I never make Mom guess who I am. Why do that to anyone with Dementia?! But I take every opportunity to tell her who I am, and to reminisce a bit about others in the family, especially her family of origin, because you never know when something will click. 

Yesterday was not one of those days. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Rainy Day Fun

Rain has kept us mostly inside today. So far it's a gentle Spring rain, the kind that doesn't cause landscape erosion or flood basements. We are finding our own fun today.

I've been transferring my herbs into larger pots. I'm growing Basil, Cilantro, Chives, Flat Leaf Parsley, Oregano, and Thyme. This year I started them all from seed, which I've never done before with herbs. Only tomatoes. So far, so good. But what I always forget is that as my seedlings are ready for bigger pots, I begin to run out of tray space for them. Our front porch window sills accommodate four ten inch by two feet or so of rectangular trays, but after that I'm negotiating with Brian's bike gear for additional real estate.

The kids and their grandma have been watching It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, playing old favorites on the Wii, and now it's time for UNO Attack! All the while, Grandma regales them with stories from their childhood, and stories about their their cousins down in Austin or their late Grandpa and all the ridiculous situations that have occurred over the years, each story growing in hilarity with the retelling. 

Grandma is the best story teller, too. She knows just which stories are right for every situation, and which parts to highlight. The gut-splitting laughter is so welcome for all of them. For me, too.

Togetherness, again! After fifteen months. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Sky Meadow Musings

This morning we were out the door by 10:00am, headed west with Grandma Kathie for an afternoon in horse country. We were not going for the horses; we were going for the country.

Forty minutes or so after leaving the highway construction behind us, we arrived at Turtle Pond, in Sky Meadows State Park, and turned right to follow the lane back to the horse barn. Four pick-up trucks with long, luminescent trailers were lined up diagonally just beyond the car park lot. A couple of riders in boots and breeches were saddling up their steeds as we walked by to consult the posted map and choose an easy path for ourselves.

Moments later we were happily strolling along a wide, mown trail adjacent to a running brook, water glistening in the early spring sunshine. Birds cooed and called out to each other, a gentle breeze cooled us, and green buds danced all around us. Relaxing and joyful all at once, we soaked it all in and breathed it out.

I noticed that Grandma was choosing her steps carefully, not entirely confident of her ability to avoid falling on the rock juts here and there. I gave myself a mental kick for not thinking to bring along a walking stick - we have plenty - for her. After brief stops at a wooden bridge and a gigantic wooden bench that looked as though it was meant for Paul Bunyan, we retraced our steps back along the same brook, grateful for another great day outside together.

Monday, March 29, 2021

A Winning Day

It’s great to have a golfer in the family. Especially when you need access to Hains Point during Cherry Blossom season. 

This afternoon, Will was only too happy to double his usual 64 balls at the driving range. Meanwhile the rest of the family strolled out to the tip of Hains Point and back, enjoying the blossoms along the channel that passes Fort McNair and leads to the Wharf. Molly had Grandma all to herself, while Brian and I dallied for the usual photo ops, water birds, and kites.

It just so happens that the East Potomac driving range faces the incoming and outgoing flight paths of National Airport. Ever since Will was 6 or 7, he has loved going to Gravelly Point to watch the airplanes come and go from directly underneath them. Now that he’s a teen golfer, he has another great vantage point, one that allows him to ID the plane’s colors and symbols, as well.

Today we managed to provide cherry blossoms in the sunshine for Grandma Kathie, solo grandma time for Molly, and plane-gazing plus golf ball blasting for Will. That’s a win-win-win!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Breathe Out

It's 7:00pm and I'm ready for bed. I almost fell asleep on the sofa, Sunday laundry still not folded. (Doesn't matter. It's Spring Break!)

At 7:20pm I'm in my pajamas, in case I fall asleep on the sofa, Sunday laundry still in baskets. (Doesn't matter. It's Spring Break!)

Grandma Kathie has arrived. She and Will are halfway through their Madagascar marathon, a longstanding tradition. Between them they can voice all of the characters. The rest of us are reading, writing, or listening to music in other parts of the house. We're giving them their special time together. Their ritual celebration of togetherness.

Tomorrow we head out to see Grandma K's old DC haunts, and to show her what's new since her last visit. The Wharf, for one. The caged-in Capitol, if she's interested. (I'm really not.) Maybe we'll go see the cherry blossoms in front of Nationals Park and try the trail along the Anacostia. 

Tomorrow is full of possibility. But this evening I think I will go fall asleep on the sofa, in my pajamas. Or maybe fold the laundry.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Bluebell Beauties

Virginia Bluebells are best enjoyed up close. The flowers are tiny, while the foliage is vast in comparison. Until a friend tried to get them established in her back yard several years ago, I was completely oblivious to this delicate native beauty. I watched my friend’s efforts with interest. 

Fast forward to now, and here I am enjoying my own several plants, newly-established. 

The pink buds blend into the blue of the delicate bells as tie-dyed cloth. A captivating cascade, facing downward from several sturdy stems, contrasts against the bright Spring green of the saucer-like leaves. I hope tomorrow’s rain does not disturb them.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Just Around the Corner

I always think of Frog and Toad in the Spring. My favorite story is “The Corner”.

When I was a classroom EL teacher, I enjoyed sharing this story with my students in March, when we’d all had just about enough of the cold, dreary, draggy days of still-Winter.

In the story, Frog traipses through the woods and a meadow, taking each corner he comes to, but finding only a pine tree, dried grass, a sleeping worm and other non-signs of Spring. Finally it begins to rain, so he heads home. There, he finds one more corner that is the corner of his house. When he rounds that corner the sun is coming out, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and his parents are working in the garden. 

“You found it!” cried Toad.

“Yes,” said Frog. “I had found the corner that Spring was just around. I was very happy.”

This past week of school for us, with that very rainy day in the middle, was the corner that Spring Break was just around. And we are happy indeed!

Please Remember Me

Yesterday afternoon I spent an hour or so sitting with my mom, in her bright and cheery room at Yoder House, playing favorite hymn collectio...