Tag Archives: family

Living the questions

There is a famous passage by the poet Rainier Maria Rilke:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

I am striving to live this way right now. And it is a struggle for this analytical problem solver. Although my unresolved problems are logistical, not emotional, the words above still strike a chord for me,and give me permission to not have everything 100% figured out.

Grandma’s fall yesterday has thrown a spanner (wrench) in the works that we had worked hard to figure out. Everything now is up in the air. It feels like the  where?, when? and how? of the future are all uncertain…And there is no way to figure them out right now. The future has to unfold for itself.

All I can do is to try and prepare for several foreseeable outcomes so I can try to smooth out the rough patches as best I can. Rough patches do seem inevitable.

Things were going so well…

Then Grandma fell.

ksm20161118-chen_shourong-02Yesterday we went shopping together and got everything on our list to make the big turkey dinner for Thanksgiving. We felt like we had mastered the shopping challenge. In those bags were a 20 lb turkey, 10 lb of potatoes and many other items.

This morning I was “Walking with Leslie” when my husband came down to say that we had gotten a call from the manager where Grandma lives and that she had fallen and the EMTs were there. I threw on my sweat pants, grabbed my keys and we were off.

We arrived as they were stuffing her into an ambulance. She was lucid, cheerful even but could not move one of her legs. So we grabbed the pups and went off to the hospital. The EMT said we would get there before them, and we may have but I couldn’t figure out where to park in the large complex hospital complex so we actually got into the hospital a bit later than she did.

All that rushing was followed by waiting. She has a broken hip. She may have surgery tomorrow. The pups are curled up on the floor by the fire. The cat is miffed because the pups are here.

The waiting continues. Too much is unknown to make any plans…even about tomorrow.


I finally washed most of my windows this past Wednesday. It took most of the day. A day where I started out to do other things, but the murky opacity of my windows on a beautiful spring day made me realize that the other things could wait. When it was done it felt good to see the bright sunlight and look out through clear windows on the blossoming world.

Seems like that might be a metaphor: sometimes you have to stop what you are doing and wash the windows in order to get clarity.

The past few weeks have been very busy, no time for window washing, or even looking out my dirty ones. My grandmother has been without a caregiver since the middle of March.  It has been a real challenge to get her to doctor appointments, to lunch every day, and get the dogs walked, and to try and find caregivers so I don’t have to keep doing everything myself. During the past week things finally started to come together. Good thing since I felt a bit like I was coming apart.

One point of clarity for me during this period has been that I don’t have the balance between taking care of others and taking care of myself figured out. I do the things I need to do for Grandma, plus some extra, but neglect taking care of my own home. I wound up cleaning my bathroom with a toothbrush in my mouth the other night because it needed it so badly.

Another, not unrelated, point of clarity is that I really want to be a granddaughter, not a caregiver. I want to have the time and energy to go on outings:

and plan special celebrations:

Grandma turned 93 in March and her health is okay, but she has become noticeably weaker since the beginning of the year.

No answers yet but recognizing the issue clearly may help me work the problem.


Buckle your Seat Belt- the Family is Gathering

This post was started before Thanksgiving, in response to the Daily Post prompt “Seat Guru”.

FYI: Seat Guru is the name of a website that is: “The ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities, flights, shopping and airline information.”

My family will gather for Thanksgiving, some smarter members will participate by calling in to say “Happy Thanksgiving”.  We could do a National Lampoon Family Holiday movie with almost no exaggeration. If we are in the same house and nothing blows up then the seating plan is perfect. Except that there is never a plan.

Our holiday gatherings are held at my dad’s place. It is definitely a barmy old codger’s pad (rat poison in the Kleenex box, skill saw on the dining table…). There is usually a close match between the number of human beings and the number of dogs. Dad doesn’t have much seating and all the dogs are people (they sit on the furniture). So these things tend to be a slow motion game of musical chairs played to football games and home improvement shows.

In preparation for this year’s festivities, I wanted to get a fire breathing dragon drone to guard the kitchen. I figured I could use it to dive bomb and breath fire on people who came into the kitchen when I was trying to cook. My husband talked me out of it.

One year at Easter the men installed a microwave over the top of the stove where I was trying to cook a meal. This was not a smooth, everything-fits-first-time type of installation,it involved several tries where the microwave occupied the only usable counter space while the installation team regrouped. Part way through the project my sister backed her car over a bank and the installation crew went to haul her mini-van out of a small ravine. Very shortly after that her new boy friend arrived in his spiffy Mini-Cooper and we were all told not to mention the over-the-bank incident. It got so ridiculous that when my Dad’s girlfriend arrived I offered her a dog biscuit as an hors d’oevre (bless her heart she got the joke!). I could have really used a fire breathing dragon that time!

Update: we didn’t have any dramatic quirkiness this year. I wonder if we are losing our touch…maybe we are getting old. I do still wish I had a fire breathing dragon drone… maybe for Christmas.


Broken in Silence

I swore (which I rarely do) at a guy in a construction zone who made me turn around and walk blocks out of my way, for saying “I am sorry for your inconvenience”, because I know, good and well, that NO ONE on God’s green, but rapidly browning, earth gives one accursed tenth of a rat’s hindquarters about my convenience.  He was just parroting what he was trained to say to crazy people. When I got home I realized that I needed to stay home for a while.

I shouldn’t have broken that silence (and I didn’t yell, he may not have heard me since there was a lot of construction noise), but I was already in tears and trying to get a few things done quickly so I could get home and melt down in peace.

The silences I should break are not with a  stranger in a construction zone. They are with people closer to me. But the words are never there and those people are full of their own joys and concerns, fears and stresses. I get it, but I still feel a bit like a sacrificial washer being squished out of shape between other people’s rough edges.

Even saying “should” is debatable. There is a tension between the “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” and “tell it like it is” camps. I grew up in the era where those two were competing with each other in our culture.

My mother would always say “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”, but she did not come close to practicing what she preached. It was a standard for others. Mostly trotted out when something said was not to her liking. “Tell it like it is” was for her, not anyone who might make her feel uncomfortable.

With that upbringing, being a non-confrontational sort, I developed a different philosophy:” try to find something honest to say that which will make other people feel good”. It doesn’t have a catchy ring to it. More importantly, it can be very difficult to find the right words, so, more often than not, silence it is!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Break the Silence.”

Do I know you from somewhere?

The rather interesting question posed is “how would you get along with your siblings, parents, etc. that you have known for a long time if you only just met them?”

It is really hard to figure out an answer to that, I do not think I would ever meet any member of my family, even my spouse, if we were not already in contact. Our paths would never cross.

Then I wonder, how can that be? How can it be that people from the same source have gown so far apart that they would never meet? Surely there must be something? Maybe if we met there would be a vague sense of deja vu.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Delayed Contact.”

Gramps’s Legacy

Going through papers looking for the information needed by the VA for a pension for Grandma , I found these items in an old chest of my grandfather’s, things he collected and cherished.

Memorabilia from the Marines. Including all the letters related to his Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a Marine, an everyday, ordinary hero, manning up until he could no longer stand up.In physical therapy during the week before his death you could see him struggle, but he never complained.

His ukulele book. He taught himself to play the ukulele and brought it along on many vacations. We learned the songs with pauses for chord changes.:

  • I’m looking over a four leafed clover, That
  • I over-looked before.
  • One leaf is sunshine, the…
  • second is rain,
  • third is the roses that…
  • grow in the lane…
  • No need explaining, the one remaining is…
  • somebody I adore. 
  • I’m looking over a…
  • four leafed clover that
  • I over-looked before.

A joke we had fun with. Can you figure it out?

  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB
  • OSAR
  • LIB

I don’t know how I want to be remembered. My brain seems to only be firing on a couple of cylinders right now, but when I saw the prompt, it made me think of Gramps.

I can almost prune an apple tree, due to his coaching. I would be up the ladder in the tree and I could tell when I should cut a branch off because his hands would twitch, as if he were using clippers.

I mostly find humor in things…and I sing “I’m looking over, a four leafed clover” with gusto, out of tune and with rests in all the wrong places. And I tend to stick with things…to a fault sometimes. Maybe, just a little bit, I am his legacy. And maybe what I wish for as a legacy is someone who remembers me with fondness, even though I am usually out of tune and it takes me a while to change chords.

Semper fi!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Don’t You Forget About Me.” and Legacy.