It’s officially spring, and the world is waking up.
On my recent walk, I noticed ducks, fish in unfrozen ponds. Little bits of gold, flitting about -- still moving slowly in the cold spring water. They are waking up, too.
Even my own little sprouts of green are popping up – daffodills and narcissus, just waiting for me!
I’m waking up, too.
Yesterday I made a splendid Sunday dinner -- turkey breast, divinely moist with sage and thyme under the skin; stuffing (yes, I still love Pepperidge Farms crumbs, though all the best telly cooks talk about doing your own and I’m sure that’s better) with mushrooms, celery and an onion; homemade bread (OK, from a Rhodes loaf) and brownies with peppermint chocolate and candy bits on top.
It was wonderful -- and cooking it was such a joy I didn't mind when I felt terribly tired after..
I’m was so itchy to cook I almost couldn't stand it, even if doing so with one hand is far more difficult than one would expect.
It’s interesting how working differently from normal can really put you off your game. And how you learn to cope.
This weekend I put up my Easter egg trees. This I can do with one hand (especially because I actually got the trees themselves in place while I had two arms!)
And I cut branches for a third. I'll post pictures of these within a week or two, as we move closer toward Easter.
I’ve been writing thank you notes with my right hand. It takes awhile but it’s good discipline. I can make my bed and do all the things I have to do – maybe not easily, but I can do them. It’s not easy always, but again, it puts things in perspective.
It makes me think of my dad.
For the last ten years or so of his life, he was truly debilitated by his asthma, COPD and emphysema. Since I have the first two of those, thanks to a genetic thing, every time I get bronchitis I have pretty graphic flashbacks to the worst of my dad’s illness.
Then, he had a fall that for awhile still allowed him to move about on a walker but eventually required full-time care and a wheelchair.
I remember him, living in the apartment he moved into when his health began to fail, a number of years after my mom’s death. There were times when he could get around – slowly, but certainly adequately. He’d drive his little red Tempo to the nearby grocery store, where everyone knew him by name and he’d talk their heads off, because, as my cousin David says, “Ken never met a stranger.” Dad would talk to anyone, anywhere for as long as they’d listen. (This is not always a good thing!)
(The Tempo -- now that's a story for another day!)
He had friends, but at that age, many had died – or faced other challenges that made visiting difficult. If it wasn’t for his beloved ham radio, I fear he would have been in far worse straits emotionally. I so wish he’d had the Internet then – and blogs. Oh, dear – he would have been manic!
For dad, cooking was a challenge. It was easy enough when he could be the grill-meister or do big breakfasts. But mom was always the family cook and though Dad tried to adjust with easy recipes and the microwave (a silent thank you to some inventor out there!), he never mastered it. Or liked it all that much.
(I will say I do remember his reading “Chesapeake” by James Mitchner and coming up with a pretty close version of the oyster stew in the book. I was so proud of him that even though oysters are one of the few seafoods that don’t knock my socks off, I relished every taste.)
It was difficult to walk, to reach for things, to operate as he always expected he would – and should. Fully able bodied. The dad I remembered. Dapper not disheveled. Funny, not frustrated. Healthy, not ill.
Now, I’m far from that point. My life has been made somewhat inconvenient with only one arm, but I’m on a timetable, I’m improving, and this is short-lived. I can use both hands now, even though one must stay in place, strapped in the sling. And while I’m not able to lift much or do much in the art line, I’m moving about really well and will do more so in a few days and weeks.
But think about it – anyone able-bodied can lose that ability at any time. And for a longer period than a few weeks. Maybe forever.
A car accident, a serious illness, a bad fall.
In one of Becca’s recent post she mentioned the recent death of Natasha Richardson. I’d also spoken with others about this – she was on the beginner’s hill, for heaven sakes. This woman should not have died. It’s a tragedy.
But there are so many others who have similar injuries but live. With extreme consequences.
I am fortunate that kind and loving friends have visited, done lovely things to cheer me up, brought me food, help out. (And clean my cupboards, Rick! Thank you!)
Not everyone has that. And if you are the caretaker (a role I assumed for many years), you know that any single person who can help in any way – a ride to the doctor, a dinner, a surprise visit) is a blessing. A gift.
My friends Richard, Jim and Bonnie were my blessings when my dad was ill. At the peak of things, they divvied up nights to give me time off. And later, their visits were the brightest spots of his day.
I always think I’ve tried to help people. But I’ve learned over the past few weeks that there are ways I can help more; differently. A surprise visit or an unexpected gift (and it doesn’t have to be big or expensive) is a huge boost! A ride? Oh, my! That’s unbelievable (I still haven’t figured out how I’m getting to my PT appointments if I don’t cheat. Or cab it. But I have that option – not everyone does.)
I’ve discovered I really love having the time to do things like read at length, watch a DVD, fiddle with things here and there, and have some quiet time.
I’ve also discovered that I’m very used to socialization! Make note: visit elderly friends. Bring them treats.
My friend Judy writes mostly on special needs in her blog Winter Ramblings. One of the things she has noted there and in her book Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs is that special needs can occur at any time. Many of the issues she deals with really extend beyond children but work with anyone who for whatever reason can’t do the things others can.
Yes, lots to think about. A reawakening.
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