Monday, September 1, 2008

There Are Days

We visited the MIL today in the nursing home. She asked the great-grandson if she saw a gap in his teeth where some had fallen out. He wouldn’t smile for her. Given time he would really have enjoyed her. She always loved the children and playing with them. She picked at them and baked cookies and had them “help” her in the kitchen. But that has been years ago. Now she has people who enjoy her company among those in wheelchairs, bibs, and walkers.

MIL was pretty today in her denim dress and matching shoes. She looked happy. I asked her if they had already had dinner. She said she didn’t remember. I guess if a person can’t remember having eaten dinner, then nothing else much would be a problem either.

Our youngest son remembered her blackberry cobblers and summertime on the farm when he was young. He wrote a poem for her and we framed it and gave it to her to hang on the wall. It was proudly displayed in her living room until the day we took it down to pack up the house and all the little keepsakes that can’t be taken anywhere. I know. Someday the kids will probably have to do that in this old house. But that doesn’t make me feel as sad as seeing—and hurting for the memory of—the MIL. In a way she taught me what NOT to do as a MIL, but in other ways, she taught me what love for family was all about. SHE had a mother-in-law who lived in her back yard, for pity sake!

Having the granddaughter here since Friday reminded me of how MIL made the children feel as if they were the only people in her world. Of course, with our little miss “into it” we have to be watchful just to be sure that she is safe. Given some time, she will be more delightful than she is now and less of a scary responsibility when she visits. But still, I remember our children went to the farm and PLAYED all day and into the night with MIL and FIL. THOSE were some happy times. I would like to give our grandchildren even a part of what our children had back then.

Then there are days like today when I see what life has become for someone like MIL. I am not sure I want to see that kind of life—even if I don’t remember those other days. My youth was spent as much as possible on the back of a horse or with some kind of critter on the farm or outside in the sunshine. Maybe the sun is not as kind to me these days, but I would still rather be a part of nature than a little old person sitting among faded memories and failing minds.

He didn’t write it for me, but the son’s poem works for these thoughts:

A Field of Plenty

Lay me down in a field of bluebonnets
Place dimes on my eyes and turn away
Let me lie and dream my mesquite tree dreams
Let the red clay absorb me
Like dust on a rainy day
And I will be
Warm to the diamondback's belly
Underfoot a coyote's trail
A cottontail's burrow
A field of plenty
Reflecting the sun
Harvesting the rain
And giving in my silence
I will be more than ever before
I will be no more

© 2006 Hanan Joseph Dickerson

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