March 31, 2015
HERE I AM
Here I am. I apologize for being away for so long. The last month has been a bit of a challenge for me. Autoimmune diseases, such as MS and Epilepsy, make things tricky sometimes. I am fortunate in that I don’t get the “regular” illnesses, like colds and viruses, very often. If I do, though, it is not a good scene. Wow. I was hit with the stomach flu recently. I lived through it, not quietly and without complaint, mind you. When I am sick with a virus, the MS hovers over it all with the symptoms looming around waiting to pounce. Once I recover from the bug, whomp, the wrestling match with the MS begins. Usually the fatigue is the part that is hard for me. This is not your regular, “I feel a little tired, need a cat nap, I just can’t get going” feeling. For me, MS fatigue is the most debilitating part of this stupid disease. The only way I can explain it is that it is literally like being hit by a truck. You know the wiped out feeling you get when you have the flu? You literally have to force yourself to walk to the kitchen to get a drink of water, or getting dressed feels like a marathon? It is somewhat like that. So, that is where I have been…..but I am back now. Here I am.
I don’t care how old you are, when you are sick, you really just want one thing, your mom. I can remember when I was a kid and got sick, my mom would spoil me rotten. She would bring a TV tray in and it had everything I needed on it. We had this ugly orange TV in the kitchen that Mom would watch the news on while we got ready for school every day. It was very old and had the giant knobs that you actually had to turn to change the channels. Gasp, that must have been exhausting. Wads of aluminum foil were generally wrapped around the rabbit ear antennas. When I was sick, my mom would put that TV on the tray by my bed. My mom was a seamstress and her “shop” was in the basement. She would spend all day going up and down those stairs checking on me.
My parents are 88 now. They live in Grand Junction. Mom got sick a few years ago and has been in an assisted living apartment ever since. My dad spent every day from 7 am to 7 pm there, so we finally succeeded in getting him to join her there. While my dad is quite content to have simplified life, my mom hates being there. She wants to go home so bad and makes it known every chance she gets. We all know that she cannot go home. Mom is very forgetful, gets confused, and cannot perform the everyday functions of life without assistance. She would not be safe at home and my dad cannot take care of her. This time has been such a struggle for me. I want to be there with the TV tray and that orange TV. I want to help them with the million things they need help with. I want to paint my mom’s nails, go fish with my dad, play fetch with my dog in the giant field by their house. I want to go to the mall with my mom and spend hours scouring the sale racks. My mom would always end up buying me something cute and classy. My mom has always been a very well dressed and accessorized woman. It horrified her to see me in sweats, ponytail, with tennis shoes on. I can remember leaving to go put gas in my car one day and mom and I got into an argument over me going out “looking like that.” I recall telling my mom that I was just going to get gas, for crying out loud, and I didn’t care what other people thought. She would die to know that I drop Laura off at school in my pajamas many days. Now my mom is different. My mom is unhappy, tired, and no longer well dressed and accessorized. She has forgotten many of our stories. Mom has lost her vision due to macular degeneration. She no longer critiques me, tells me to fix my hair, not to wear jeans with a hole in them, or that I could lose/gain a few pounds. My mom is sad a lot, quiet, and very tired. My mom misses me so much and wishes I was there to help her. I wish that too. Life shifted. It seemed to happen so quickly. I cannot wrap my head around a world without my parents in it.
We are going to Grand Junction this week to visit and help clean out Mom and Dad’s old house. The house will go on the market next month. My siblings and I are sorting through things and figuring out who wants what etc. This has been a very hard time for me. I am flooded with memories and a melancholy feeling overwhelms me. There has been much discussion over things. You know, who gets the china, the whatever. For me it is different.
As long as I can remember there has been this ugly yogi bear sitting on the top of my mom’s microwave. I don’t know where it came from or why it is always there. It is kind of orange and Yogi held a sign that said, “On strike.” It is made out of rubber, kind of like a big eraser. Really, it is a very ugly little thing. Over the years, the sign ripped off. Yogi no longer says, “On Strike”, but he is thinking it, I can tell. I remember it as a child just always being there. When my parents moved to Grand Junction, Yogi came with and took his spot on top of the microwave. So, while the debates over who wants what, when does the house need to be empty, etc., go on, I am grounded by that bear. It is the one thing that I really want. It is symbolic, I suppose. No matter what happens, there is Yogi, sitting there on the microwave.
My mom was fretting over us coming. “What will we DO while you are here? Where will you stay? What will we eat? Laura will be soooo bored.” I told my mom it didn’t matter if we sat together and ate tuna fish sandwiches, we would be together. We could eat tuna fish sandwiches and watch that figurative orange tTV. I will paint her nails. This time I will buy her a new sweater. I will hold her hand while she rests. Love shows itself in many ways. No matter how life shifts, twists, turns, the love remains. It is God’s way of saying, “Here I am. Through all of the twists and turns, the good, the bad, the ugly, here I am. On your sunniest days filled with laughter and joy, your darkest nights of sorrow and uncertainty, here I am.” Just as sure as that Yogi is on the top of the microwave.
EMNoller copyright 2015