Archive for February, 2007

Arriving at Obedience

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Mom rolled over this morning and asked, “what time is it?” “I don’t know,” I replied somewhat impishly. It’s true, I can’t see the clock without my glasses, but also, my answer had a somewhat naughty insouciance as I really meant, “who cares? … You go back to sleep; I’m going to read for a while.” And so our day began. This day is much like previous days after my step father’s death as I share my mother’s quiet grieving and her nights. I certainly do not need “quiet time” here with Mom to read! The hush of falling snow is broken only by the swish of a DVD slipped into the player at the television, the quick trip to church, the market, and the video store, or the swoosh of the treadmill in the guest room. It’s been really cold this my first “real winter” with temperatures ranging from -16 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Mother pointed today to the bushes and trees covered with snow. Lovely and best viewed from under a blanket! The squirrels here are fat with winter coats. I lounge in one of Mom’s twin recliner chairs to read and I look up occasionally at the double picture of my sister Annette, my sister in heaven. The clock ticks, but time does not matter here. Annette is a beautiful child of seven. I cannot imagine a woman of 65 years of age that she would be if she were not in heaven. I am Mother’s child, and I’m learning to do her will. Slowly I’ve swung around, like the inexorable, slow hands on a clock, slowly moving, I’ve arrived at obedience. Rarely do I argue with Mom. Yesterday I tried to convince Mom to come South to Florida for a few good years, but Mom has cast her own insouciance at time, arrogantly turning time around. Bed time is in what many call the wee small hours around 2am. Long after the sun is past mid day, Mom emerges from the bedrooom like a small ruffled chicken, her hair all on end, eyes blinking against the light of day! She will get her chance to shake her fist at time when I leave here to return home. My sisters and I pray that soon Mother will shake off this winter coat and come to live with us in the land of shorts and tee shirts rather than stay in this quiet place. Alone, in the quiet.

What is Bittersweet?

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Bittersweet is good and bad mixed together. It is chili that makes us say “mmmmmmm….. oh!” when the “kick” of the hot peppers hits. It is creamy chocolate that makes us wrinkle our lips with its bitterness and soothes us with the mellow softness of its milk. Bittersweet was listening to my step-dad Jack, as he declined in his 90s, come down the hallway of his apartment, and listening for a loud thump and the loud yell for my mom, “Grace!” Bitter were the calls to 911 to ask the Euclid fire department to come help pick him up. Sweet was the sight of the strong young men and women of the fire department and their assurances that “they didn’t mind!” as they leaned over Jack with gentle hands. After a lingering illness, my step-dad Jack Harlan died on February 1, 2007 at 4:20 am at the age of 96 years. Bitter was a series of strokes that led him to hospitals and finally nursing homes. Bitter was watching Jack lay in a bed with the indiginity of all his bodily fluids draining into bags to be emptied by a series of young aids. But sweet was the two years Jack’s grand children and great-grand children gained as they grew to know the wonderful stories and jokes of a man who was born in and loved one of the greatest of old American cities, Cleveland, Ohio. Bitter was the pain and anguish of watching him suffer, but sweet was the knowledge that we all were accepting “God’s time.” Sweet was the knowledge I gained from watching my Mother love and care for a man unconditionally. Sweet was the big family I gained from the union of this big bear of a man and my little Mom. Bittersweet is a snow fall that covers a multitude of evils like rocks, dirt, trash, and a coffin with shining white softness. Bittersweet are the faces of the young soldiers who fold flags over coffins while honoring those who served America. Serious military faces, fresh, young, and dying too soon. Sweet is the blaze of glory of a sunset signalling the coming of darkness and the sunrise that returns every morning as if to fulfill a promise. Sweet is the face of God that we will see when we finally shed the pain of the bitter darkness and accept the sweet promise, “I will be with you always.”