We moved back into the house with my Grandmother and Granddaddy so we could help him take care of her. I sat at the kitchen table and watched him feed her – one forkful at a time – before he fed himself. Being only four or five years old and too young to know what else to do, I sat beside stoke-riddled Grandmother mimicking her vacant look on my face and a washcloth over my hands that remained neatly folded in my lap just like hers so at least she would know she wasn’t alone.
When she went into the hospital to get relief from the bad headaches. Daddy drove me to the hospital in Newnan on his way to work where I spent the day at Mother’s side, then he picked me up on his way home.
When he was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis and later Juvenile Diabetes, I dove in to learn everything I could about both chronic diseases, calling labs as far away as Ireland to get information about cures in the making. When he has lasik surgery (a more complicated kind of lasik because he’s a skydiver), I flew to Denver to be his chauffeur and his eyes for a few days.
When she was hit by the car while crossing the street on her way to cheerleading practice, people said “Call me”, “Let me know”, “Keep me posted”, so I took a roll of quarters to the hospital and set up a phone tree and worked the pay phone.
When his second wife went on one of her trips and left him quite ill and near immobile, I moved into his house to stay with him, picking him up when he fell, sitting him on the screened-in porch while I silently (so he wouldn’t be embarrassed at his daughter-in-law doing such a thing) cleaned the result of his explosive diarrhea, cooking for us, reading to him, listening to his hard-to-come-by stories, taking him for a ride over to beautiful Lake Lure on a sunny day when he felt like getting out.
When Daddy went into the hospital for the last time, I stayed by his side, taking notes in my journal, soaking him in, loving him quietly, and releasing him reluctantly.
I don’t know where or how it started – maybe I was born this way, maybe I learned at the hand of example, maybe I’m fulfilling a contract I forged with these people in a prior life. Was it nature or nurture? Who knows? Does it matter? I make a good caregiver and a fine patient advocate. I know how to be on-the-ready and available. My Bones guide me, whispering what I need to hear, what I need to do, and their whisperings come through loud and clear because all else falls away. There is only the person in need.
Tomorrow I ask your loving support – support for Alison, for my family, for the medical teams tending to Alison, and for myself – as I sit beside my daughter who will have surgery that’s similar to last the surgery she underwent last year – similar but different, more complicated. Much more complicated.
Communicating is caring.
Feeding is caring.
Praying is caring.
Holding is caring.
And caring is a healing life force.
For those who say “I’m praying, and I won’t stop till you tell me to”, and do
For those who ask “What can I do?” and mean it
For those who say “I will be there to wait with you” and show up
For those who text or call to say “I’m thinking about y’all” and do
For those who message “I am there with you” and are . . .
Two words that aren’t nearly enough, but they’ll have to do for now.
I’ll be posting updates through the day tomorrow over on Facebook. When it comes to goodness, there really is strength in numbers, so thank you for being part of that – for holding us close as we weather tomorrow.