"My memories are all I have."
Her words hung in the air, heavy with meaning, providing me with silence and perspective. She went on to remind me to experience bliss and love and not to live a single day in hatred. She has a lot of regrets, most of which she cannot amend. Either due to age and health issues, or time. Time does not heal all wounds.
I travel within 20 miles of her at least twice a year and never take time to see her. "I rented an apartment with an extra room, just so you have a place to stay when you come visit me." I've never taken her up on her offer. It is not a chore to see my grandmother, but in the days of technology and fast-paced everything, visiting with a woman who spends every evening sipping wine on her porch and watching the humming birds fly by, feels like something I just don't have time for.
Yet, when she tells me about her humming birds and how they visit her every evening, all I want is to experience that same thing. Yes, experience it with her, but also experience it on my own back porch. I ask myself, when was the last time I just sat and watched the birds fly by? When was the last time I had a glass of wine on my porch? That answer would be never, because I don't drink wine, but the last time I had a beer or mojito on my porch was too long ago. My porch lays dormant. Will this be something I regret, just like my grandmother?
This is my mother's mother. A woman I lived with, and shared a bed with, when I was in elementary school. My family had just moved to Washington from Hawai'i and the only place we could live was in my Grams' house. It was a three bedroom, ranch-style home. There were six of us and my Grandma. Maybe there were only two rooms, but something about that house and that situation prevented my sister and I from having our own room for a while. We slept in the same bed with my Grams and she would lull us to sleep every night with her snoring. She ate onions because they make your skin healthy. She brushed her teeth, but that didn't get rid of the onion smell. She loved us then and she loves us now. All she has are her memories.
In October of last year, I went back to Oahu, Hawai'i for my cousin's wedding. I hadn't seen my dad's parents in over three years. A few months prior to our trip to Oahu, my husband and I took a trip to the Big Island, it was our non-family related vacation. The first we'd taken in a while. A couple weeks after that trip, my dad told me that Tutu (my dad's mother) thought I was angry at her. I asked him why. "Because you neva' went visit her on da island," he said.
"Dad, I couldn't! We went to the Big Island. Tutu lives on Oahu," I said.
"I know that, but your Tutu doesn't care. You were in the same state and you didn't visit her. She thinks you're mad at them."
When I saw my Tutu and Papa at my cousin's wedding in October, all I could do was hug them and hold back tears. I was never mad at my grandparents, I just didn't have time to visit them earlier that year. Tutu knows me, but my Papa is suffering from dementia. It comes and goes and he was good at my cousin's wedding. He recognized me at first and we held hands for a long time. Occasionally he would have to ask me who my dad was.
"Who's your dad?"
"My dad is your oldest son, Papa."
"Okay. Who's your dad?"
"He's right there, Papa," I would tell him and point in the direction of my dad.
"Who are you?"
"I'm your oldest grandchild."
"I remember you."
A couple days after the wedding, we took a trip to our family cemetery. Papa came with us. This cemetery is the last remaining land on Oahu that belongs to our family. All our ancestors are buried here. He looked at the gravestones and a wash of understanding and memories flooded his face. We could all see it. My sister grabbed my arm and said, "look at Papa."
"I know," I told her. And I did know. Something about the place brought back his memories. He told us the story of our first ancestor to ever step foot on Hawai'i, who married a Hawaiian woman, and how we all came from the land.
As our grandparents age and life reminds us how fragile it truly is, we are still so busy going from meeting to meeting, home to work, to grocery store, to our social obligations. We rarely take time to watch the humming birds, or remind ourselves of where we came from. In the end, memories are all any of us will have. Some memories will be clear as day, some will be hazy and jolted, some may never return.
In 2000, my grandfather, my mom's dad, passed away. I was the only family member who didn't go see him one last time before he passed. The only time I ever met my grandfather was in 1984, when I was four years old and my family took a trip to Arkansas. When everyone went to visit him in 1999, I was too busy working. I was in love with my job - at only 19 years old I ask myself how I could have been in love with my job, but I was - and I chose my job over seeing my grandfather for the second and last time. I regretted it for many years. Now, 14 years later, I realize that I don't regret it. I have my memories of him and his lush Arkansas garden, his bee hives, and his jovial demeanor.
We constantly push and fight with life over our time. "I don't have time," slips out of our mouths more often than we'd like to admit. I do my best to change my words and not use that phrase, but it all means the same thing. Our grandparents have their memories. Wouldn't it be nice to have our own?
I want to slow down, but I like the fast pace of my life. There needs to be a balance and I need to visit my grandparents more. Time can be our friend, we just need to understand how to use it to our advantage. Life and love and memories and family, friends and travel and work and art. These can all share moments in time.
Now, where is my bottle of wine? I want to spend time on my porch.
Friday, February 21, 2014
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Dental Assistant to Me: I'm glad you were able to make it in for your six month cleaning considering your situation.
Me: Are you kidding me? This was the most fun I've had all week!
Yes, I had fun at the dentist. While you're sitting in their chair getting your teeth cleaned, you also have the option to dip your hands in wax for nice soft results, and get a chair massage. I really do love going to the dentist, but yesterday's trip was even more special because I got out of the house. It has been snowing all morning and it is predicted to continue falling through Friday. It is beautiful, but that also means that I can't leave the house much at all.
Every night of the week, after we both finish working, Husband and I take Frodo for a walk. Frodo pulls me in my Delorean, while Husband walks beside us. Frodo LOVES it, but with snow covered streets, I am unable to participate. The guys regale me with their stories of hunting squirrels and catching up on the news from the other dogs in the neighborhood when I can't join them. Since December, a lot of my excitement has come from hearing stories of all the fun things other people are doing. It's a very different way to live, but it is allowing me to see the world through their eyes. I'm also becoming a better listener. There's not much I can say in return - not too many things I'm able to do - so my listening skills are now top notch.
We've upped my physical therapy to twice a week now and let me tell you: I have never felt pain like this. My ankle is just a constant throbbing ball of uncomfortable pain and my fibula, well, let's just say that I didn't realize you could actually feel pain in your bone. What my physical therapist is doing to me is verging on torture, but she's doing it for my own good. I just have to keep reminding myself that I want to walk again whenever I feel like kicking her in the face with my good foot, while she's massaging out all the tight tendons in my right foot. I think she wants me to walk as badly as I want to walk.
As of Monday, she has me hobbling around the house without crutches. THIS IS HUGE NEWS! But I also think that's why my ankle hurts so badly. I can "walk" (in my boot of course, no barefoot or shoes yet) to the bathroom and around the kitchen, but I still have to crutch when I leave the house. Last night, I was walking around the bedroom picking out some socks when Frodo looked at me with a look of bizarre concern. We made eye contact and you could see the confusion and fear creeping into his eyes. I took a few more steps and realized what his problem was. I sound like a zombie! I really do. BOOM with the booted foot, silence with the healthy foot. BOOM! Silence. BOOM! Silence. No wonder the animals go running when I come hobbling down the hallway. The fact that I keep my arms extended away from my body so I don't lose my balance probably doesn't help the look of the situation. I look forward to the day when I no longer have to wear this boot and my babies stop running from me. And I can go outside and play in the snow.
To update the status of moving my foot from my first day of physical therapy... Things are getting better. I can curl my small toes, and my big toe is making progress. It can move, but it cannot curl. This results in breakdowns on Sunday afternoons. Yes, I cry. Not out of pain, but out of frustration. Sunday is the only day I allow myself to cry - the rest of the week I'm too busy. My foot simply does not want to move like a normal foot. I think my physical therapist is getting frustrated because it's not moving. I'M getting frustrated because it's not moving. I'm working so hard on trying to get it to move that I actually have my foot out of the boot as I'm typing this, trying to move it up and down. We'll (me and my foot) will get there eventually.
I started reading a book that Husband bought me years ago when we worked from home. I'm one of those collectors of books that I want to eventually read. I believe that time will tell me when my soul, mind, body, and/or emotions need me to read a book. I have shelves of books that I haven't needed to read yet, but are waiting for the right time. This particular book, I pulled off the shelf a few days after I broke my ankle. It's been sitting near me, no matter what room I end up in, every day. Yesterday, while waiting for Husband to get his teeth cleaned, I opened the book and started reading. Now I know why I waited.
From "New Chakra Healing, Activate your 32 Energy Centers," by Cyndi Dale:
While the divisions between our body and mind are distinct at a superficial level, at another, deeper level these distinctions blur. For example, our body may hold, reflect, or act out that which is being experienced by the mind. When healing one part of someone, such as a broken leg, we are also indirectly making a change on all other levels, say the mind or soul. Fixing this leg might require the participation of feelings, thoughts, and spirit if it is to really work. If our mind says, "Let's stay sick. I like taking time off work," the broken leg will certainly be a long time mending.
This mind/body connection has recently received considerable documentation. One recent study has determined that the key ingredient in healing from broken bones is not as scientifically based as we might assume. Is it the quality of care, the ability of the doctor, or the speed of the bone setting? No, the most crucial recovery factor is whether or not someone likes his or her job. (This fact has been documented through studies available at the Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Bloomington, Minnesota.) Non-Western and ancient cultures have long known about the power of the mind, often adding a soul connection to the mind/body link.
Hmmm... Again, I say hmmm... I would definitely rather be doing something else with my life. But wouldn't we all?
So, my healing continues as I try like hell to get my foot to move again and work through the pain as I zombie walk around the house. Healing is happening and I still hold to my goal of walking without a boot by my 34th birthday.