Monday, August 29, 2011

A Day Full of Changes

Today was a day of changes. I took Timothy to a local in-home daycare facility to "test the waters" and see how he would do. He did better than I expected. I decided a few days ago that he needed the company and stimulation of children his own age. I told my mother, "Timothy is bored." She countered, "How could he possibly be bored at your house with all of the toys, books, and you and Greg to entertain him?!" I replied, "He's done it all by noon - twice!" I talked with moms of small children and others and decided that a few days a week at a local daycare would help him... and give his grandmother and me a breather, too.

So this morning, we visited, played, had lunch, and came home. I slipped into in another room a couple of times to see what he would do, and always, he came looking for DebDeb... "Where are oooo?" And he was not having any of the lying down on rest mats for nap time. So rather than cause a scene, we left. The teachers assured me that when I am not there, he will mimic the others and lie down without incident... something I experienced myself as a kindergarten teacher. And I hope so, because he is going back for the day later this week.

While we were there, my husband phoned to tell me that my dear friend, my "Birthday Buddy," Geraldine McCurry, whom I call MawMac, died last night. She was 93 on our birthday, July 4th... and she told me then that she was ready to go to heaven. Sadly, her almost-60-year-old daughter, Mary, died Saturday. Mary was born with cerebral palsy that crippled her body... and her family valiantly cared for her at home until she was well into her adult years and MawMac and a live-in caregiver both became too old to continue in-home care. This entire family treated Mary with love and respect in a time when most families put disabled children into group homes or facilities and treated them much differently. Mary had a bright mind - communicated clearly with her family members - and even played a mean hand of bridge! She was always amazing to me.

Everyone suspected that when one died, the other would not live long. We just didn't know it would be only a day apart. I saw MawMac yesterday, but she was sleeping and I didn't wake her. I last saw her awake on Tuesday, when I returned from the ER with Mam-ma. She was in the hallway, and aides were rolling her to the dining hall for dinner... her medications in one hand, a can of Coke with a straw in the other! I will forever remember the infamous "chicken livers" conversation of a month ago, when she informed me that "Someone needs to tell the kitchen you fry chicken in flour, not batter!"

This evening, I pondered the irony of this day - my angst at taking 2-year-old Timothy to daycare... would he feel I had abandoned him? Would he be frightened and confused? Would he have fun, as I hoped? On the other hand, I thought of my dear friend MawMac, who gave me such joy and wonderful advice... who never met a stranger, but could get to the heart of the matter and demonstrate Christian love and dedication like no other. She is no longer there to visit when I visit Mam-ma at the ALF. No more funny stories of life as we knew it in our small town when I was a child. No more great recollections of seeing my mother before I was born and suggesting she wait and have me on her birthday (and she did!)... no more shared cakes and Happy Birthday phone calls... and no more days of pain and suffering for her in her tiny body shrunken by osteoporosis some four plus inches.

A week ago, MawMac's two surviving daughters were struggling to juggle the care of their sister and their mother... wondering who would go first... wondering how the other would handle the passing of either daughter or mother. And now, in the course of a weekend, both women are gone. And just like that, their lives are changed forever. Last week, a minister in our area was preaching a funeral and fell dead in mid-sermon. He was fifty-five.

I called Mam-ma this afternoon to see how she was doing. She said, "Kindly sad." She then said someone had asked her how she was feeling about her friend's death, and she said, "Relieved." She knew MawMac was not well... and that she would be so grieved over her daughter's death. At the same time, it's hard on these older folks when their friends pass away... a harsh reminder of how brief the time is that they have left on earth.

Celebrating Geraldine's 90th - 3 years ago
 On days when we wonder how we will manage... how we will get it all done, we would do well to remember how quickly time passes... how fast babies grow... how soon our elders are gone... and how fragile life really is. Today was one of those days for me... a day to cherish the time I have with Timothy as he experiences milestones and growth spurts... a day to check on my grandmother, make sure she was doing okay, and encourage her to spend time with her remaining dining table mates and encourage one another...and a day to reflect on the blessing of my dear friend Geraldine, whom I called MawMac.

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