Friday, July 24, 2009

so many hands

Shot this with my Sidekick three weeks ago Monday
from the hospital parking lot. I was scarfing Panda stir
fry in my rented PT Cruiser and heading back for the
second half of my first twelve hour day with Grama.
There would be two more weeks of those.

Weeks made of endless days made bearable by the
support network that buoyed under me and held
me afloat. Friends who made time for dinner at the
drop of the hat -- including P&B with barely an hour's
notice saying "we've been waiting for your call all
week" (god I love you guys), and J & salty almonds.

L&J who left their apartment and their plants in my
custody when they scurried off to Rio so I could stem
the hotel hemorrhage -- and let me keep the keys so
I could do it again this weekend. A&T who were
*supposed* to be benefitting by their absence to get
in a little lakeshore time, and instead generously made
room for me.

S with the gift of Boards of Canada when I tweeted
about craving beauty and music (BofC is both and has
sustained me)(along with Death Cab for Cutie, curiously
enough); the b1 boys with their beautiful vitamin bolts
just as my stamina was flagging.

AMcQ (you know who) who hounded Lutheran Pastors at
my request and for my grama's sake when she was
desperate to take communion and they were slow in
coming. (That won't get you into trouble in heaven, will
it anniemcq?)

The kind nurse from Ghana who, in looking after Grama
said to me: "I am so happy for you, to have this time,"
and told me about how she lost her grama suddenly, to
a heart attack, how she missed and hurt every day for
her; and, crying as I cried, held me so we could cry
and keen together.

The emails; the calls; the DMs; the comments. The
hugs and the time it takes to listen when someone is
sobbing and gulping her way through a story. The
stories from friends who have been here -- A. especially
for telling me how he rubbed his dying grandfather's
feet, so that I thought to rub Grama's, so that she
troubled to ask me the next day, just once "will you
rub my feet?" and never had to ask again.

So many hands.

That refrain first came to my mind when we buried
Harry a few months back and the honor guard saw
him off with gunfire and coordinated step routines.
When the folks filed through the reception hall and
the family told stories about his final days; about
the toll of the Parkinson's; about the hands needed
to care for him.

So many.

Came to mind again when the pallbearers rooted
themselves under his heavy casket and carried it like
rowers carrying their hollow shell to the river so they
can set it to the current.

Thought of it when I joined friends to sit shiva this week
just as soon as I returned to town. Thought of it when we
gathered for three nights successively to read the Kaddish
and to share stories about our friend and surround his
widow with company and comfort. Thought of it when
Grama died on the third and final night.

So many hands.

Came to mind when I thought of the careful attention
we give to the dead (we can't lower our own selves into
our graves); and thought how the dying receive the same
kind of attention as the newly born as I spooned
porridge into my grandmother's mouth and helped
her aids bathe and lotion and powder her frail form.

Because they must. Because none of us can manage
it any other way.

Posting by cameraphone on board Southwest Flight 2001
from Midway to SeaTac. This weekend we bury my Grama.


Lolabola* said...

excellent post. loved the rubbing feet bit. (spent most of my grandma's last night rubbing her hands). So happy you have such a great support group around.

that photo....I thought the concrete was a lake reflecting the trees at first.

anniemcq said...

such a beautiful post, D. Now if only we can remember to take such care with each other in the middle of our journeys.

I'm so glad you've had such good support, and so glad you had such vital time with Grama. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend.

ps: God loves bossy women. I'm good.

pss: my word verification is sperm, which I think is pretty life affirming.

psss: I love you to the moon and back.

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