even in this

someone posted a fascinating and intriguing invitation on facebook this morning and 7 hours later, there have been over 50 *likes* and 45+ comments and photos all connected, spun together by this gentle, honest prompt:

“Right this minute: (am in) physical therapy waiting room. No filter, no makeup, no shower, no product, no jewelry, no hairdo, no dye. “Mama, you have such deep lines on your forehead. And smile lines.” Nothing to fix and nothing to hide. When I’m tired and feel my least beautiful — this, too, is practice.

Your turn — tag me or post a picture in the comments. Where are you, right this minute?”

i noticed my resistance to the prompt, took a photo and posted it along with the following comment for a group of people i don’t know and imagined wouldn’t really pay much attention.

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“sad. adult son in tears, unable to find job. weary of caregiving. aware of aging on so many levels. want to be present even in this. even in this. yes. even in this. good practice and invitation.”

it seems endless, my weariness. my sadness. my caregiving of others. i am so close to tears most of the time. yet, i would not change much right now. this is how my time, my life, my relationships are…and they bring a daily invitation to see things differently, to change my perspective, to be present in the moment.

i have friends right now who are wearing red shoes, eating fabulous food, riding the ferris wheel and drinking champagne in Paris. oh, how lovely it would be to teleport myself across the land and sea to walk arm in arm, scarves flying around our necks over those cobbled streets with a baguette and cheese, a fresh pear and a bunch of sweet peas in my cloth bag.

i took myself outside, sat on the porch with my tea, plopped down on a chair ~ kind of like Eor on a good day, put my feet up on the weed infested, overgrown flower pot and realized, whoa, this is beautiful. look at that, my feet have red shoes on them. the lavender is blooming. the roses are growing. the sky is bright blue. “Hey! This could be Paris.”

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it really is about perspective, isn’t it?

instead of Paris, i spent the day with my mother. she still will not use or acknowledge the word dementia. mom will only tell people she has had a stroke because she doesn’t want to appear “dumb.” but she has said, “i can’t find my memory. can you help me find it?” today was our music class. she instantly shape shifted into the “hostess with the most-est” spending much of her time hugging people, welcoming them, showing them the music, telling them everything would be alright and to enjoy the singing.  she really was just being kind and loving. when she would return to sit with me she doled out nastiness like candy. “Let me do it myself. Why did you wreck my words? Help me find the words. What did you do with it? Don’t touch that. Hush.”

oh, i felt so beat up. so useless. so unappreciated. she fired me, told me to go home. i had a couple hours to myself to ponder this mysterious, complicated relationship between mother and daughter.

and the truth is, we are both doing the best we can. i am weary. she is mad. this just is and none of it is personal. she loves me. i love her and for now, that must be enough.

when i arrived home and checked email there were the responses to the morning prompt. a lovely person wrote to me and reminded me of what I already know.

“Even in this.” That’s a prayer if I ever uttered one.”

“I ‘see’ you Anne. Beautiful and brave. Take good care of YOU in the midst of it all.”

Isn’t this what it is all about? The paradox of putting oneself out to be seen is sometimes the only way to be seen.

there it is again, perspective ~ along with openness and vulnerability.

and I think about how difficult it must be to be a certain age, to have experienced a trauma to the brain yet look perfectly normal (crazy making in and of itself) and on top of that to be aware that your mind is slowly slipping away.

even in this, I want my mother to be seen and loved deeply.

images

pay attention

be astonished

tell about it

Mary Oliver

 

the more i pay attention, the more astonished i am.  slowing down, breathing deeply and intentionally bringing my awareness to the very present moment i am astounded, often overwhelmed with what i hear and see and experience.

 

sometimes i think and even say, “i can’t make this stuff up.”

 

today was one of those days. a quiet day, following a month of noise, too much travel, endless and often meaningless activity.

 

we sat quietly on the couch knitting the same rows, over and over.

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(paraphrased from Ansel Adams:)

 

When words become unclear i shall focus with images.

 

When images become inadequate i shall be content with silence.

 

daily, she uses a glue stick and scissors, finding images to paste into her journal, practicing her numbers, writing the date and one or two words that are meaningful to her.

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mom began to talk about two of the pages and tears freely rolled down her cheeks. I began to write her words down as she reflected on the meaning of the images and how they were connected.

 

“did you get that?” “that’s a good one.”  “write that down.”  “that’s ‘importmant.’”

 

i wasn’t sure if she was talking about her stroke or the world or her own children.

 

taking my scribbles, she went to the computer where she sat for 45 minutes looking for each letter on the keyboard to form the words that were the poetry of her heart.

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as she said, “it doesn’t matter.”

it’s still grief. it’s still loss. it is still sad.