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.

Pretty in Pink

My sister-in-law, Carol, asked me to make a Napkinection for her mother-in-law, Angie.  I have known and loved Angie for years.  I was honored to make a Napkinection for her.  Carol emailed that Angie loves pink and flowers.

Pink beads had been purchased the week before I got Carol’s email.  I rolled Mom around in JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store looking for the perfect fabric for Angie.   Mom pointed to various fabrics for me to check out.  She nodded yes to two designs of 100% cotton fabric that were pink with flowers.  Balancing the bolts of fabric on the handles of the wheelchair, we proceeded to the cutting station and requested 1 1/3 yards of each fabric.  I sent pictures of the fabric to Carol for her to choose the one she thought Angie would like. She choose the pink with white flowers.

I made three napkins that were 23 inches long to go with the Napkinection that was made of pink beads, pearls and pink crystals.  Jim, Carol’s husband, delivered the set to his mom in Florida.  Carol sent this message:  “Just wanted to tell you Jim’s mom loves her Napkinection.”  In her next email, she sent a picture of Angie smiling, wearing the pink napkin attached to the Napkinection.  She looked happy and dignified.  No demeaning bib.  Tears unexpectedly spilled when I saw her picture.  Her joy touched me and made me joyful.  I am grateful for that moment for both of us.

Making the Napkinection seems like such a small thing.  Most of the time, I think I am nuts for continuing to do it.  But something deep inside me drives me forward even if it is a slow go.  In Issue 53 of Heron Dance, Roderick MacIver quotes Frederic Back who did a film, The Man Who Planted Trees, about what he thought was the most important message of the story.

“Many, many people understand that the most important thing in this story is doing something that you know is good, and you don’t look for any kind of big result.  The reward is in the doing.  You do what you feel you have to do.

If you make money, that is fine.  But you don’t have a reward.  If people are blind around you, don’t see what you are doing, that is okay.  The objective is not to be rewarded.  It is to be doing something that you feel is important.  Your reward is in feeling good.  Your life has had a value.”

Golden Friendships

Friends stopping by to visit this past week enriched my life.  Helen came on Monday.  We laughed together.  Laughter is definitely good medicine.  My spirits are lifted by her presence in my life.  I took her on a tour of the Napkinection workshop in my basement.  It is a great space that meets my needs.  I can close the door, keep the grandchildren out of the beads and the rest of the world  out of my space when I want to retreat.

Helen and I put together this turquoise Napkinection.  It has two silver metal spacer beads between each turquoise bead.  Mom is happy to be our model.

Dave’s dad, Minter Westfall, was an entomologist, specializing in dragonflies and damselflies.  Carol, his daughter made these dragonfly napkins for us years ago.  We continue to enjoy using them.  The colors complement this Napkinection.   On Thursday, Ivy came for lunch.   She suggested that all of us wear Napkinections to show support for Mom.  I like that idea.  Next time she comes, I’ll have one for each of us.  Ivy inspires me.  She is an artist, poet, photographer, and writer.  Her book of poetry  and photographs will soon be published.  It is touching and beautifully done–The Fleeting Moment.  I can’t wait to have my copy in hand.

Isolation is a problem that caregivers have to deal with as their lives are consumed with their daily task of caring for another.  Good friends who stick by you through thick and thin are worth their weight in gold.

Blogs are another way friends can touch friends.  My friend, Kathy, writes on her blog, www. sharingshaymont.com about decorating ideas.  I love her Fourth of July hat.  She found it in her basement, painted it red, wrapped it with red, white and blue ribbon and placed it on her door.  It looked very festive for the holiday.   Her daughter has a blog about saving money, www.thepurposefulpurse.blogspot.com.  Both blogs have useful ways that caregivers and families can boost morale and savings.

Take Joy

Mom returns to my house next week.  My caregiving juices have started to flow, less sleep at night, more tired during the day.  I dreamed very vividly last night that I got up in the night and discovered Mom sitting on the couch, sound asleep, wearing a light blue house coat, with her chin on her chest, snoring.  I was astounded that I had forgotten to put her in her bed.  With her sweet disposition, she didn’t make a fuss.  She made the best of the situation and peacefully went to sleep where she was.  I woke up, startled, but smiling.

I would like to dump this small lump of anxiety that I am caring around.  I’ve tried all the tricks of the trade, prayer, yoga, walking, whining, and wine.  Today, I am accepting it for what it is.  I’ll get to know it.  Ask it how it’s doing.  Already, I feel better.  Breathe deeply.  It is part of me.  Breathe deeper.   Acceptance.

Creating brings me back to my center.  I will go down to my workroom and start on the five Napkinections that I plan to make this week.  I will post them in my Etsy store by Friday.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow;

behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy.

Take joy.

Fra Giovanni,  A.D. 1513