Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A new addition to my "I can do this!" list....

I got my garden planted this weekend. I absolutely love planting vegetables in a garden. Setting out the starts, creating rows and furrows for the seeds to go in. Setting the tomato cages in, and hopefully getting them nice and straight. It all just seems so hopeful, somehow. I like to think of them stretching their little roots, sighing as they settle in and get comfortable in the warming sun. I imagine the blossoms to come, the baby green tomatoes on the vine, and then the wonderful, warm red tomatoes ripening, filling the yard with that incredible fragrance of fresh, growing tomatoes. Gently lifting pea vines and cucumber tangles to get at the latest offering. Eating as many pea pods right there on the spot as I put in the bowl to bring in the house....

Oh, I am a fool for a nice garden!

This year was even better, as I really, really prepped the soil, thanks to a friend, Davida. Davida is an acquired taste, to some, I suppose. I find her a treasure, and have from the first day we met. Many years my elder, she is a fine older lady crafted in the Katharine Hepburn mold. Well-educated, always impeccably groomed, hat and matching coat at church, Davida is a formidable woman, grounded and firm. She knows the road of betrayal, divorce, pain. She buried her second, beloved husband after nursing him through a long illness. Davida has earned her straight, set spine.

Davida had done amazing things in her life, and in a garden. Many years ago she helped establish a community garden in an empty lot in a city. That garden continues to thrive, and to date has yielded over 100,000 pounds of produce to feed the people in an otherwise totally urban city environment. I approached Davida a couple of weeks ago to ask if she had a rototiller I might borrow, and she was sure and delighted to reply yes indeed she did, and I was most welcome to it!

Davida never questioned whether or not I could use such a machine. She did not doubt my abilities for a second. She didn't hesitate, or look me over to see if I looked too risky to loan to. She didn't spend one second wondering if the mere fact that I would be using the tiller would unnecessarily imperil it. She didn't spend an hour going over directions with me. She never said "Oh, just let me do it for you, you will just mess it up." She just said "Yes".

She knows what a woman can do. She knew, even before I did, what *I* could do. Years of lessons in the school of hard knocks have taught her that a woman on her own can do whatever it is that a woman needs to do, and somehow she believed I would learn that lesson too.

And in that moment, feeling her confidence in me, I did.

Thank you, Davida. You were right. I could do it. I did do it. Thanks to you, my garden is growing.

And so am I.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alzheimer's can KISS MY ASS.

Fuck off, Alzheimer's. I mean it. Forgive me, gentle readers, but I have had enough of that particular specter. You came and stole my mother in law, and that was bad enough, but now you have come for my mother, and that is a level of remove I did not appreciate fully until it struck. GO AWAY and leave her, all of us, ALONE. My kids are basically screwed now - it's on both sides of them, and it will creep in and steal them too.

How DARE you come for my mother? Don't you know who she is? She is a doctor, she gave her entire professional life to helping others, to making sure others were cared for. How dare you turn her, a community icon, an beloved authority figure to so many, a champion for the underserved, healer, missionary, teacher, mother, friend, into a doddering, timid, questioning, insecure, anxious, old lady? Do you think it doesn't stab me to the heart when they give me that sad, apologetic, knowing smile? Do you think she really can't see the people at church actively avoiding her at coffee hour, not wanting to have the same conversation for the tenth week in a row?

What is WRONG with these people? Those same people who would sidle up to her at every opportunity to ask her to squeeze them in next week, come in to the vestry to look at this mole, and does the baby look all right to her, now avoid her, because THEY don't have the time and patience to hear the same story again. Everyone will hug me and whisper how sorry they are, how sad it is, but no one will tell her. No one takes her to lunch, asks her over for a cup of tea. After all those late night phone calls she answered, extra miles she went battling insurance companies, countless hours spent. Nice.

Is it really them I am railing against? Or is it just that I can't stand seeing my mom reduced to this caricature  of who she once was? Worst of all - she KNOWS this is happening. She knows her mind is going and it is breaking her heart. It breaks mine to hear her say "I was never a great beauty. We know this. But I was always the smartest woman in the room. Who am I now?"  We both shake out fists at the sky, but the sky never answers.

And oh, I am selfish too. I MISS my mother. I want her advice, her counsel, her cheery voice at the end of the phone. My children miss her smiling face at their concerts, cheering on the sidelines, helping with chemistry homework. GIVE HER BACK, Alzheimer pigs!

Please, give her back. Please?