I've also been working on the memoirs for the CD, though that's going slow. Maybe the move is getting in the way but there are only so many hours in the day after all. I've given my self a deadline of November 16th to have the CDs in my hand. That's the date of my CD release at Caffe Lena. Now I'd better get to work. I know from experience how fast time flies, especially with the nicer weather coming ... we hope.
And speaking of resilience, here's a piece I wrote on the subject.
I started writing, “I am thankful for my resilience.” But wait, what is resilience? Is it resilience that has helped me survive all the trials in my life, or perseverance? I’m sure it’s been a bit of both, but equally? Resilience is the ability to withstand those trials and return to your original state. Have I ever returned to a previous state or only evolved into the next state? I tend to not look back, but have I gone back? When I read a book, I often go back and reread previous sections or even reread the same book. But, am I the same person the second time through? And if not, do I read the same meaning into what I have just reread? When I remember events from my life, do I remember them as they really happened or just my impression of them? Do I rewrite that book each time I write or tell my stories? Now I think that maybe I have never been resilient. I am a truly evolving being at every moment of my life. Can I write about evolution? Can I tell you how I got here and how I became the “me” that is now?
The first few chapters are not pretty. Although my parents loved us and did their best, these chapters are full of abuse and fear. The next chapters are exciting and also not very pretty with more abuse and fear. There was always that fear lurking in the background, hidden from sight and ready to spring out when I wasn’t expecting it and certainly not inviting it in. As a young child, I learned to keep my heels up off the floor when I sat in school or church so that the shaking of my legs would be soundless. I learned how to look completely capable in the face of anything. It never fooled the predators, though. They can smell fear. They can see your weaknesses. I became strong and guarded but isolated when I most needed support. Meanwhile, I kept writing more chapters, making sure not to let down my guard.
In my later life, after spending years looking for a run-down house in the country my partner and I could rent cheap and maybe fix up in exchange for rent, we finally gave up. Then, unexpectedly, the house found us. It was the perfect place. The day I went to look at it, I noticed dragonflies flying around the bushes. I have always had a special affinity for these dazzling creatures. This was a good sign, and the house emanated peace and relaxation.
We weathered that first winter with a lot of hard work and looked forward to spring. My parents came to visit the weekend after Easter that year. They never came to visit before – too many judgments about my lifestyle choices got in the way. This was a big event. That day, I walked out into the overgrown gardens and saw snowdrops blooming, my favorite spring flower. It made me think of my mother and also made me cry. I was confused at the time and wondered why I felt so emotional seeing those flowers. I couldn’t afford to be sentimental about my mother. She was distant and unreliable.
The visit went incredibly well. My parents loved the house and talked about coming back often. My mom was going to help me clean up the gardens. Something huge had shifted, and I felt hopeful.
The next day, my mother had a massive stroke taking away all of her abilities to speak or even comprehend communication. She couldn’t recognize letters or understand what they were used for. She also couldn’t recognize pictures. This meant she couldn’t use the picture or letter boards used to help stroke patients communicate. This vibrant, alive, social woman, who ran everything, had tons of friends and was still working at age 80, was taken down with a vengeance. I spent the next 6 months reading to her, singing every conversation to help rewire her brain for speech, learning her physical therapy when the insurance company cut her off, taking my invalid dad to visit her, and tried to keep my household and family together at the same time. It was not an easy task and I felt completely alone. I started getting sick and pushed on. I started losing money on my new business because of so many missed days and pushed on, but I was in big trouble. I was sinking fast and my armor was weighing me down.
The day after my 57th birthday, Mom had a second stroke and didn’t regain consciousness this time. I felt betrayed and raw. We all made the impossible decision to withhold her sustenance and let her pass. I sat with her every day, reading, singing and waiting. Ten days later, on her final day, I noticed that while I was there with her, she was relaxed. If I left even for a minute, she got very agitated and had to be strapped down. Somehow I knew this was her last day and promised I wouldn’t leave her alone. But, hard as I tried, I couldn’t find anyone to pick Tabitha up from school and, not wanting to bring Tabby, I left. After a few hours of agony for me, wanting with all my heart to be with my mom, I was finally free to leave. As I drove down the driveway, a cloud of dragonflies flew in front of my car, causing me to stop. I got out of the car, gazing at this wondrous sight. As they surrounded me, I followed them to my garden and pulled a few weeds, thinking of my mother. She had passed on her love of gardening and much of her knowledge to me, so this was the perfect place to be when my brother called to tell me that my mother had just passed.
The Japanese believe that dragonflies are souls that sometimes come to visit us. In spite of all of our struggles, my mother and I were always very psychically connected. As it turned out, she was not alone when she died. A young girl had recently lost her mother and decided to go with her father on his hospice rounds. He had asked for her company often in the past, but she always refused. She was not with her mother when she died and felt haunted by that. She told her father that she felt compelled to go that day. As the girl passed my mother’s room, she noticed her agitation. Although hospice workers don’t stay with unconscious patients unless there are family members who need their support, this stranger went in and sat by my mom’s bed, holding her hand until she peacefully passed. My mother needed this angel, and she needed my mother. It was a complete circle. Although I have always trusted in the universe to take care of things, this still took me completely by surprise. I went forward into the next year to care for my father while he finished his life, reading, singing, listening to his stories. This time, I didn’t do it alone. Friends came during his last week to sing with me. Is this resilience? I don’t think so. I am a different person now. I handled my dad’s death differently than my mom’s. I’ve finally learned to ask for help and hope to learn how to show when I am hurting or struggling, when I am afraid. Maybe it’s time to let my heels down on the floor and make noise again. Meanwhile, I keep writing my book. I will keep turning the pages until I get to the end and it is shut for good, and it has certainly been a page turner.