Smiles, Change and Honey

Dave and I met Kittye and Mom at a park in Defuniak Springs, Florida on Hwy. 98 to begin Mom’s six weeks with us.  She waved and smiled when she saw me, like she always does.  It makes me happy, relieved she is well, and life is as it has been.  I know change is coming, but I am comforted in the moments it remains the same.  She will do the same when she sees Kittye the end of November.

On the way home, we picnicked at the rest area on I-185.  Mom enjoys chicken wings and Cheez-Its.  She is wearing her Napkinection (www.napkinection.com).

Watching her interact with her great-grandchildren is a privilege, I cherish.  Grayson (18 m.o.) said “Grandma!” when he saw her this time and my, oh my, how that made her smile.  Smiles delight, pass on joy, draw us in, connect us heart to heart.

Olivia was not to be left out, of course.  She gives Mom lots of hugs. Kimberly makes sure they have plenty of time with their great-grandmother.  She has fond memories of spending summers on the farm with Grandma.

The sourwood tree is my favorite tree, lacy flowers in the spring and luscious red leaves in the fall.  Butterflies and bees feel the same way I do.  They flit and flutter over the flowers gathering pollen to spread the joy.  In the Arbor Foundation “Library of Trees”, James R. Fazio writes, “As I prepare this issue on sourwood trees, my appreciation for bees is greater than ever.  If it were not for them, we would not be blessed with what is arguably the finest of all honey.”  It is a unique honey that has a buttery or caramel flavor, mild and delectable to the taste buds.

This sourwood is outside my living room window.  Mom sits in her lift chair with it in full view, watching it change throughout the seasons, accepting the changes that occur in her life in six-week increments.  As much as we want the good things in our life to stay the same, accepting that they will not takes some work and practice in letting go with grace.  Mom seems to have it mastered.  Gratitude for the wondrous moments, strength and faith for the difficult times and remembering through the good and bad, “This to shall pass.”,  will help us find peace and comfort through the caregiving experience.

Trees and Blue Sky

Trees with a backdrop of cobalt blue sky push my pause button, especially this time of year.  I want to pull them inside me, live with the vivid colors, exude the joy of the moment.   Panama City Beach in September is lovely.  The water serene and blue to match the sky.

A few years ago,  Kate was with us in Florida for Thanksgiving.  We visited my nephew, Kyle and his wife, Brandy in Munson.  They served us barbecued ribs that were juicy, messy and yummy delicious.  It was a treat to be with them as we walked in the field behind their house.  The stately pine caught my eye.  The glossy red berries of the yaupon holly reminded my of my grandmother, Dessie.  She would decorate with the berries during the holidays.  I planted yaupon holly from a nursery in my yard in Georgia because it reminded my of my Florida family.

The leaves will be changing soon.  Just as the seasons come and go, our days of caregiving will do the same.  It is all about letting go.  Holding all things loosely.  The trees let go of the leaves.  The soil is nourished.  Those we care for are nourished by our care and we are nourished by their presence in our lives.  Acceptance is difficult to reach, but it can be a place of peace.

Last year in December, I visited Kate in New York City.  She took me to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas trees.  I loved the leafless trees strung with lights.  They seemed hopeful.  Bare, but giving off light when the sky was the darkest.

The Cedar Waxwings come through about February.  They love the Cotoneaster berries.  I will notice them when I hear the little squeaky call they make and see the leaves wiggling with no breeze as they greedily eat the berries.  When I walk by the bushes, they fly up into the trees.  They are handsome, smoothly dressed feathers in yellow and gray.
And then, spring comes again.  This oak is flowering in April.  It is a white oak, if I remember correctly.  All things newI enjoy the young green leaves of the tulip poplar next to it.

Haiku is a fun way to observe and take a mini-moment for reflection.  Try it as you fold laundry, prepare meals, or walk the dog.  This is one I wrote in an art class in August.  The assignment was to draw a tree and write a poem.

Oak trees reach for sky.

Fertile ground welcomes acorns

dying….forest grow.

Tomatoes and Salvia

We have had a week of ups and downs.  Mom’s blood pressure spiked to 194/106 Saturday morning.   Usually she is sitting on the side of the bed when I go into her room to get her up for the day.   She was hanging onto the sheets like she was afraid she would fall out of the boat.   Dizziness kept her from sitting up.  Nausea rolled as I tried to lift her up.  After her dose of blood pressure medicine, Emetrol and Tylenol, she felt a little better, but opted to stay in bed until mid-afternoon.  After her medication, her blood pressure leveled out at 144/74.  The dizziness continued throughout the rest of the day.

On Sunday, she was sitting on the side of the bed smiling when I went in check on her.  It had been a sleepless night for me, checking on her several times throughout the night, watching her covers move up and down as she breathed.  Her blood pressure has been down since Saturday, thank goodness.

She has some skin breakdown that we are struggling to conquer.  Moving from lift chair to couch to wheelchair to lawn chair with cushion on the porch isn’t enough to disperse the pressure.  So, I bought a do-nut cushion which she sits on, but she doesn’t like it.  I am applying a thick layer of  Calmoseptine four times a day on the area of breakdown.  This is the second day in the battle.  The areas appear to be drier.

Caregiving is not for the faint of heart.  I want the very best for Mom.  I want to fix her, make her better.  Sometimes, I have to let go and sometimes, it is full steam ahead.  It is a fine line we walk.

Mom and I had a pleasing drive to Cleveland, Georgia on Tuesday to say good-bye to my sister and her husband who went back to Florida on Wednesday.  It has been a treat to have them close-by.  We stopped at the new Honor (roadside) Stand at LoganBerry Heritage Farm and purchased two bags of flavorful heirloom tomatoes, $5/bag, $10 into the locked box.  You can find out more about the farm at http://www.loganberryheritagefarm.com.   The tomatoes make a finger licking, chin dripping, leave you wanting more BLT(bacon, lettuce and tomato) sandwich.    Last night, Dave and I added applewood bacon from Whole Foods, tomato bread and whole grain bread (1/2 sandwich of each) from Country Bake Shop in Cleveland, Georgia and Kraft Mayo.  Incredible.  I also made salsa with heirloom tomatoes, Vidalia onions, cilantro, 1/2 jalapeno pepper and a good squeeze of lime juice and about a teaspoon of kosher salt.  Scooped into Tostitos multi-grain chips, it was pretty and satisfying.

Mom has enjoyed watching ruby-throated hummingbirds buzz the back deck.  They seem to be attracted to the Lady in Red Salvia.  It is an annual that produces red flowers until frost.  I break off the flower stalks when the blooms drop off and the little cups that are left turn brown.  They are full of seeds.  I put them in a plastic bag and scatter them into the pots in early spring.  Very easy gardening.

The purple flower on the deck is from a Ruella plant that is behind the Salvia.  Their blossoms bloom and drop each day.  Mother Nature gives us moments of reprieve from the mundane, difficult experiences of living.  The potential birth of something new comes as the flowers fade.