Archive for March, 2009


I didn’t even know I was crying until my cheeks were wet.

I pulled up to the stop sign, made sure there wasn’t a car behind me, and started fishing around in my purse for a kleenex. Charlotte’s concerned voice came from the back seat, “Mom, what’s wrong?” I smiled weakly, made a dismissive wave with my hand and blew my nose. “I’m okay, honey. Just got kind of sad all of a sudden about leaving Nanno and Papa. It’s all right, I’m ready to drive now.” Madi eyed me suspiciously, and then said firmly, “He’s FINE. Papa is just fine,” before replacing her iPod earbud and studiously looking out of the car window. Sweet Madi, with the tough girl stance– you don’t fool me for a minute.

Because the thing is, he’s not fine.

It’s not an emergency, it’s not drastic or horrifying. But he’s slowing down, he’s hesitating, he’s struggling just a little as he tries to retrieve a name or a word he KNOWS he knows. And sometimes, if you unexpectedly ask him something that he’s not prepared for, there’s a slight look of distress and a momentary blankness that flickers across his face, then a grimace of frustration. “So stupid,” he says under his breath. But he’s not stupid, he’s just slowing down. It’s normal. For the love of God, the man is 93 years old!

For the love of God.

I know it is the order of things. I know we have had him much longer than anyone has a right to expect, healthy and in his right mind despite the “little bit of a heart attack” and subsequent stent surgery he had a couple of years ago. We have all known that this was coming, it shouldn’t shock me and it doesn’t, really. My reaction is what shocks me.

Honestly? I’m having to fight the urge to go stand outside in the yard and start bargaining so loudly with God that I scare the neighbors. Since we got back to Nashville I find myself Googling all manner of subjects relating to ‘geriatric medicine’ and ‘memory recall’ and vitamin regimens and blah blah blah DENIAL!!! It’s the Mom in me, I know that. She’s almost 93 too, but trust me, that feisty little piece of work is not about to go gently into that good night. She’ll stave it off with everything she can think of, from crossword puzzles and Sudoku to walking laps around the backyard, cooking and gardening. They’ll probably have to pry a hoe and a spatula out of her cold dead hands. In fact, one of the most heartbreaking parts of being home this last week was noticing that Mom’s usual combative attitude towards any sign of what she terms ‘weakness’ or ‘giving up’ in Dad was, for the most part, gone. I saw her eyes soften towards him a couple of times when he moved even s l o w e r than usual, and once I saw her look pained when he didn’t grasp something that was being said to him right away, instead of being impatient and cross. Mom always gets mad when she gets scared, bless her, and the thought of Dad declining or God forbid, leaving her alone usually just pisses her off. She is convinced that sheer force of will should keep him healthy and whole indefinitely. Well, sheer force of will and fresh fruit and deep breathing and watching less television. But this time, there was something closer to compassion in her manner towards him. Don’t get me wrong, she’ll be back to her usual cattle prod self before too long, it’s her way–but behind all that bluster is a child inside who is terrified of being abandoned. However, there is also the heart of a lion. She’ll be OK.

And so will Daddy. When he was having his heart problems a few years ago I truly saw what he was made of, and how very deep and solid his lifelong faith really was. He wasn’t afraid, there was only a quiet acceptance and deep sense of peace. He was dignified and kind, and of course, funny. The Funny goes a long way in this family. I’m sure we’ll all be digging deep for it in the weeks/months/years to come.

Please God, give me the courage to let him go as gracefully as he is hanging on.

I love him so much.

Hot Springs Arkansas– “First Ever 6th Annual World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade”

That is the real name of it, I’m not even kidding.

We took a day out of our spring break at Mom and Dad’s to go to HS for this festive event. We checked into a hotel, ate lunch out, walked all over town, then headed to the parade. Russ, as you can well imagine, was totally enthralled with the whole thing– OK, not so much, but he was a good sport. Actually, a good time was had by all!

Here is the event in pictures, because you know, “a thousand words” and all that:

**Downtown Hot Springs–they even put green water in the fountains.

**Charlotte thoughtfully examining her lunch.

**Taking turns rocking the green wig–

**Madi making friends while walking back to the hotel–

**On our way to the parade–

**Oh, yeah. We’re into it.

**Waiting for the parade to start– the ‘world’s shortest’ part is waaay up at the back of the photo. This part was less crowded, though.

**OK, so we were sitting on the curb waiting, and this very self-important policeman kept strutting back and forth right in front of us for no apparent reason. Patrolling us, I guess. Anyway, due to an unfortunate height ratio between the cop and the curb-sitters, his uniform-clad rear end was exactly eye level with us. A LOT. Back and forth. So of course, I got a picture of it for you guys.

**AND… it begins!

**A member of The Strumming Grannies– and trust me, if I had seen a green MULLET wig, I would have bought that one instead.

**I have no idea what the San Diego Chicken was doing there, but he totally needs a new agent.

**This was the International Order of Irish Elvises.

**Yes, bagpipes are Scottish not Irish, but hey, they add a lot to a parade.

**MY FAVORITE PICTURE OF ALL: Russ, halfway through the parade. We call this one “Kill me now.”

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