Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: January 4.18

“Snow showers” yesterday. Bits of the day fluffed in white. A lovely dusting of powdered sugar over the ice troughs on the street. A fairyland touch to the neighborhood. I looked out at the mailbox and the words “broken hip” flashed before my eyes.

I had just read the advice to walk on ice like a penguin. To keep one’s weight on the front foot. Wait. If you walk like a penguin, there IS no front foot. You are waddling, gracefully heaving your weight from heel to heel.

“Walk like an arthritic penguin” would be more accurate, and more fun for the observer, I’m sure. But I’m not a penguin, and waddling is not my preferred method of getting to the mailbox. Also there were enough clear spots on the driveway for a slow-motion hopscotch. I could save my waddle for the craggy terrain left by the street plow.

The windchill was bitter. The snow swirled. I retrieved three pieces of mail. One was an ad from some dentist. I didn’t think anything could be more enticing but then I saw the other two: one for “Senior Living,” and the other for Assisted Living and Memory Care.

For this I walked like a penguin?

To be sure, it was good not to get the ad for the Blue Light Special on cremations. I’ve had that in the past.

Here, dear reader, is the REAL “senior living”: navigating your way back from the mailbox while contemplating all the offers to take care of you in your dotage, the onset of which is hastened by just such trips to the mailbox.

 

 

Connections

 

 

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Connections: October 29.17

Deaf phone line

hard blue chair

what’s the point?

no one’s there

austere right angles

sterile, glistening

rigid vacuum:

no one’s listening.

You may think this

nihilistic

but caregivers know

it’s realistic.

 

One of the reasons I started my blog was to write about caregiving. I return to that subject from time to time although I continually grapple with the related issue of denial. It’s so much easier to deny than to listen because listening requires acknowledging. But denial makes the caregiver’s isolation unimaginably more damaging.

 

With thanks to the S.W. Berg Photo Archives for this expressive, poignant photo.

 

Connections


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Connections: April 29.17

I have been in an alternate universe

a place I have been before

where perpetual motion is rampant

and parents a mere twoscore.

There’s soccer and softball and homework

lives lived digitally

two kids, two cats, two dogs,

and Grandma (that would be me).

Mom in a sling and Dad far away

a convergence of planning and chance

with non-stop pre-teen rhythm

and flying by the seat of our pants.

I lived in a place such as this

in a dim and distant past

when I had an abundance of pep

and my hormones hadn’t lapsed

but now my creaky bones

move far less supplely

and I don’t know when I’ll recover

from the onslaught of energy.

Connections


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Vagaries in Gestation: On Being Linear, Part lll, March 15.17

©M. O’Hern

 

There may be no lines in Nature, but there are lines in Geometry, where I learned that a line is an infinite series of dots, that we see only a segment of it as it stretches into infinity. That hurt my head.

Can’t a line be just a line? Must Geometry ruin more than an hour of the school day? Must it contaminate every sketch wherein a line suggests a form, a gesture?

These lines tell of a hand, our first tool and our last. If the lines stretch into infinity, how fitting that they take with them this transient tool. This hand, no longer useful, waits. My pencil reaches out, as does my heart, to that waiting, transcribing it to something see-able. Something tangible. Some way to show what I feel. Some way to keep my dad.

When I sketched this, I didn’t know he would die in two days. I only knew that I was seeing things that no one else saw. I was alone at his bedside, as usual. I am sure that, as it sketched, my hand was also reaching out. Would anyone ever know what this was like for the solitary daughter? Yes. Now you know.

If the line we see is only a segment of its infinite self, what does that tell us about everything else we see?

It flows then like the line that the simplicity of a sketch is not simple at all.

 

 

 

Vagaries in Gestation

 

 


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Vagaries in Gestation: November 28.16

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Yesterday I drove to the park and, as always, slowed on the adjacent street, where little wiggly people are unloaded from back seats. A car at the curb had its doors open on the street side, so I stopped and waited.

A man stood at the side of the car, arm outstretched, helping someone out. Not a wiggly little person but a ponderously slow older person. A woman. Bundled warmly against the November day, she held his hand tightly. I caught only a brief glimpse of her but I knew. I knew those blank eyes and that empty face. I knew that slight curl inward. I couldn’t swallow because of the lump in my throat and I couldn’t see because of the tears. It all comes back so quickly.

I walked around the park and so did they. No. They did not walk. She moved her feet in that familiar shuffle, achingly slow, leaning hard on him. His baby steps described patience beyond words. Twice I noticed that they stood in embrace, she apparently clinging to him.

There was a slight wind, causing tears to run down my face. I tasted their salt and was grateful for the release.

Caregiving and dementia change people so I cannot say if he were husband or son, but I think son. I think the husband was at the playground with a little granddaughter, he seeking respite which isn’t because there is no respite from dementia. It is merciless in its constancy and as steely cold as the water in the creek.

I stood over the creek yesterday and thought about the cold water that runs through life and the daunting aloneness of those who stand firm in it.

 

 

 

 

Vagaries in Gestation

 


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Connections: May 4

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe waiting chair

where time stops

where machines and tubes

beepings, flashing numbers

measure life

in lifeless pulse.

My chair once

sometimes my younger son’s

as we

waited

for one fading generation

now my firstborn’s

as he waits

for me.

Connections