Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Woods Are Fully Green Now

White dogwood blooms peek through the fully green woods as I drive to town, and the beauty makes me happy. I have “graduated” from physical therapy as of yesterday, and I am walking stronger and with better balance. I still have to be careful and I need to work in some exercise at home now to keep up progress.

Woodsong has been fairly quiet this spring. Except for some couples and a father-son fishing at the lake and Mary Ellen occasionally dropping in to watch a softball game with us, we have had little company.

We did have a long-time Texas hunting buddy of our son come in for the night last Thursday in order to hunt turkey with our nephew Bryce. He was later than he had hoped to arrive because of a truck accident causing the truck to burst into flames and closing a Kentucky bridge. So traffic was diverted another way to Illinois. I had just gotten home from Katherine’s when he arrived and Gerald was already in bed. Since the hunter had to set alarm clocks to be up by 4 a.m., we did not visit. Of course, Gerald did have a short visit with him the next morning. By the time I woke up, the turkey hunt had been successful and our guest was already on his way back to Kentucky and on to achieve his retirement hunting goals.

With six softball games to watch each weekend, that alone keeps us busy. Oregon continues its winning ways, and A&M won one from Auburn at home and one from Louisana State on its home territory to prove they can compete with top teams. Unfortunately they did not prevent top-ranking Florida from a sweep last weekend.

Vicariously, I am experiencing the happy/sad/proud emotions of seniors and parents in their last days of high school. Every thing is the last. The last spring concert. The last musical. And last night the last jazz band performance on the outdoor area at Walt’s. This is especially difficult for Katherine since she cannot fully participate as she would so love to do.

However, David gave her the best birthday present he could have by seeing that he had the van fixed and arranged to take her to see South Pacific and hear Sam playing his last performance with the pit orchestra. We were so grateful for her aide who helped. The orchestra were truly amazing, and the show was without flaw as far as I could tell. I was proud to be there with my grandson Trent, and somehow Mary Ellen and Brian unexpectedly showed up when Brian was rained out of the field and Mary Ellen was able to change from the paint clothes she was wearing to paint baseboard in their hallway when I went by to pick up Trent.

The next day was Katherine’s birthday. I fixed chicken and dumplins (my tortilla easy kind) and made her the angel food cake (from a box) I so often have down through the years. The icing was lavender. I had fixed a box of small gifts—but somehow left it on the dining room table. Gerald came by for a visit, and her mother-in-law arrived with another birthday cake. Expressing her pride for our mutual grandson Sam, Darlene and I were able to celebrate him as well as the birthday girl. Her cake was as delicious as it looked we found out when we cut it last night for Katherine’s supper.

Katherine laughed about the pleasure of prolonged birthday celebrations since I had to deliver her forgotten birthday box yesterday. Her wonderful friend Beverly was there helping her and had brought her a birthday bouquet of tulips. Katherine said her sister Mary Ellen had been there for a couple hours earlier for a birthday visit. Her book case was filled with birthday cards, and she was grateful for all the remembrances. I had to tell her about the multitude of Facebook wishes since somehow she has lost a password to allow her to get in. Beverly and I and then David made valiant efforts for her to get to attend the jazz band event, but the disease won that battle as it has so many battles. I am hoping the delay did not prevent David from getting the band on video for Katherine to watch. She has had to accept this form of participation for so many things, and it makes us long for more research for multiple sclerosis.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April Beauty

When Gerald and I met up for lunch at Cracker Barrel the other day while I was in town for an annual cardiology check up and then an afternoon physical therapist appointment, I joined in with the other customers exclaiming over the colorful beauty of the first tulips I have seen blooming this spring.

My life right now is composed of three times a week physical therapy to strengthen my legs to avoid falls, helping out at Katherine’s, thinking about and praying for Jeannie, watching loved ones’ softball games when I can, and doing the little I need to do here at Woodsong to keep Gerald and me fed and trying to not let the dishes pile up. (I don’t want the kitchen to look like my paper piled office that I never seem to have time to file or sort through. In the past, I have tolerated my office mess by acknowledging that I am “paper rich.” Now a more honest description might be “messy paper hoarder.” While it is possible to move around at least, I would not want the TV cameras in my office.)

Because the life I am living is not the retirement I planned, I work hard to keep my spirits up. There really is no longer time for lunch with friends—at least not very often—and participating in organizations is no longer an option either. Reading is too often limited to scanning the daily newspaper. I thought at this time of life, I would be reading all those non-fiction books we have collected. They hold knowledge I had hoped to gain. Instead of what I had anticipated, I try to enjoy my social life on Facebook, which is sometimes trivial but other times quite rich. Surfing gives me instant gratification if I google for specific answers to questions. Most of all, I enjoy the spring beauty here in Southern Illinois as I look out our windows or drive to and from town.

Rain-laden unplowed fields are purple with henbit, a tiny plant I love bringing memories of building Easter nests as a child and learning from Jeannie’s international college friend, who spent one Easter with us, that this little blossom is called “Throne of Buddha” in Japan. Cones of lacy white blossoms top the region’s pear trees, but already are beimg replaced with cones of green leaves. In the flower bed at the end of our patio, paper whites bloom to join the fading beauty of the double daffodils Gerald dug up from a long ago homestead area here on the farm I strongly prefer the delicate shape of single daffodils, but I like it that we have something planted from someone else’s past enjoyment of our land. Gerald’s little flower bed near the driveway greets us with the single daffodils, paper whites, pink and blue hyacinths, and now tulips. Our red bud is beginning to bloom, but many in town are at the height of their purplish-pink beauty. Jeannie is even getting to enjoy blooms up in Freeport when she bikes or walks. Their blooms come later than ours often times, but then they last longer. Isaw the first dogwood and the first lilacs of the season at Katherine's today.

There is so much to be thankful for in our lives, and I don’t want to miss out or be blinded to the good things despite sad and scary news on the television or the sad and scary things in our children’s lives. After technicians came to change our server this morning, we no longer have a time limit on what we can click on our computers. So Gerald and I listened together to a sermon today. The preacher reminded us that Jesus said not to worry and not to be afraid. I like that, and I have tried to follow that teaching of His today Sometimes I succeeded.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Our Easter Weekend

Sweet miniature daffodils and two varieties of large showy ones circle the lamp post in Katherine’s front lawn. These were planted back in the day when she could still walk and work in the garden, a favorite activity. Her lovely flower garden in the corner of her back yard that she worked so hard on was destroyed when a huge tree from the park landed on it in a storm. I have tried to take some blooms inside for her to enjoy since she rarely is able to get outside in the sunshine these days. It seems a shame she did all this work and does not get to enjoy it. Three of the showy ones centered her table yesterday for Easter dinner.

I considered titling this blog “A Different Kind of Easter,” but realized that was inaccurate. The Easter described by Matthew. Mark, Luke, and John, is the same as always. How we celebrate it may be different as it was for us this year, but what we are celebrating remains the same: He is risen!

Woodsong was quiet this Easter weekend. There were no adults catching up on each other’s lives, laughing and talking late at night. There was no singing or piano playing. There were no grandkids coming and going. No one made nests in the yard as my mother taught me to do as a child, a custom which our children and grandchildren continued. There were no egg-dying parties at Katherine’s house or ours as in the past. I did boil eggs on Saturday and dye them quickly by putting several together at once in three bowls in three colors. But the eggs wee done dutifully for the table the next day and not as the messy creative experience the children always enjoyed. No one made the traditional bunny cake that Mary Ellen started as a small child and the next generation continued. In fact, I experimented with my first purchase of a sugar-free cake mix and icing. I did not buy a single bag of candy. There was no need.

We had a deluge of rain on Thursday night. Mary Ellen called the next morning to say that since they were unable to get in the fields, they could take the opportunity to go visit Brian’s northern Illinois family and be able to also see Jeannie. Jeannie’s family has always been able to come down for Easter weekend; and since that was impossible this year, I was grieving her absence.

Mary Ellen and Brian were grieving Brianna’s absence this holiday for the first time in her life. Meanwhile down in Nashville, Leslie and Mike were having his parents in for Easter from Ohio. The Texas families could not come this far right now so they were celebrating there, except for Gerry who was with the A&M softball team in Atlanta playing Georgia Tech. Geri Ann was with the Oregon softball team playing at Los Angeles against UCLA. (Both of “our” teams lost their first game in the series and then won the next two.)

So Gerald took me and the dinner I had prepared into Katherine’s house as she had no aide on the holiday. Then he went out and picked up Trent, who didn’t go with Mary Ellen and Brian, and they went to church together. Sam and I started Katherine on her morning routine—adjustments, tooth brushing, adjustments, glasses cleaned, adjustments, egg, toast, juice, and meds. David’s family from northern Indiana was down at David’s folks, so after David came by to check on Katherine, he went on to his family celebration.

I cleared off Katherine’s large kitchen table of the meds, fruit, and mail accumulated there. I used paper plates and spring-colored plastic cups. (I first wrote “glasses,” but I guess plastic can’t be called glasses.) With her pretty bright daffodils, the deep colored eggs in one of her lovely crystal bowls, the colorful ribbon salad I always make for this holiday meal, the table was pretty enough that Katherine exclaimed when she saw it after her daddy took her with the Hoyer lift from bed to her wheelchair. Her exclamation made my efforts worthwhile. (When she went off to college, one of the things I missed was her appreciation for efforts that I made to add color to the table with food or flowers, napkins or pretty dishes.)

The greatly reduced menu this year in addition to the Easter eggs, salad, and cake included the baked ham, scalloped potatoes which I only make at Easter now-a-days, peas, rolls, and grapes for the healthy eaters. Instead of fifteen or more of us, five of us were able to pass food at the table instead of people having to serve themselves from the buffet as we do at our house. Instead of Sam and Trent being off at the “kids’ table,” it was fun sharing our table with two young adults. (Sam will be 18 on his birthday this month, but life has required him to have adult maturity long before his birthday.)

After dinner on the way to his Cedar family evening dinner celebration, Sam took Trent home, where he continued texting friends, playing games, or doing whatever he constantly does with great skill on his phone and computer connecting with people all over the world. Gerald found Geri Ann’s game for us to watch on Katherine’s big-screen television for our afternoon entertainment. Noon pills came at 3 or so. I stayed on through Katherine’s small supper meal, more television, and finally the evening routine including night pills.

After a long day starting with cooking at home, I was getting tired as I do every evening and was very grateful for two of her church friends who come in emergencies to put Katherine back into bed. People at her church have been extraordinary in helping her for many years now. And Jeannie is telling me the same thing is happening to her with extreme kindnesses from so many people.

When Gerald came in to pick me up, I found him in the kitchen with a tool tightening screws on Katherine’s table that he observed was getting as shaky as our kitchen chairs, which he had felt compelled to tighten that morning. (I had not noticed, but was glad he had.) We were both in bed by 10 o’clock, probably another first for me on Easter night. It was a different way of observing Easter for us, but the reason for rejoicing was the same.