I missed my Tuesday Tale. And it’s not as if I don’t have a tale to tell. It’s more that I’ve been riding a relentless wave of physical and emotional exhaustion.
Well, maybe there’s a tale in that, this wave that leaves me washed up on shore in frothing salty foam. In how I hired an aide for my mother after this last fall which has left her with a long painful healing process from contusions to the ribs. A lovely aide person really, with a wandering green eye, but one who evidently can’t tolerate heat very well, so sat the whole time two inches from a fan in the living room fanning herself. And refused to water the window boxes outside my mother’s bedroom window because she’d have to go out in the sun for two minutes. “I don’t water plants, sorry,” she told me. After my mother fired her.
“What good is that, she just sits there,” my mother complained. “And she served me a piece of tasteless dried up chicken.”
Really, for the life of me, I can’t figure out why this aide couldn’t chop up the onion and garlic I’d bought to go with it. Maybe that made her sweat too much.
I tried to explain to my mother that it was only while she was healing that she would need an aide, to be sure she was safe. The safety issue has to do with the fact that my mother now needs to use a walker. And she is good about using the walker – except when she is insistent that she can keep her balance just fine without it, to carry dishes and glasses back and forth from room to room; yes, that balance would be just fine if she were more used to walking a tight rope. Perhaps even a very thin thread.
The best thing about this fired aide is that she seemed to know plenty about walkers. And seemed to feel bad enough about getting herself fired that she texted me about a tray she’d found at a homecare local store that would fit my mother’s walker. So my mother actually could have her wish fulfilled, safely, to carry her own dishes, coffee mugs and glasses of prune juice (to counteract the side effect of her Tylenol with codeine). Because as my mother reminds me, as well as her physical therapist, and her visiting nurse: “I’ve been taking care of myself , even supported my own parents, since I was 22.”
Well, that’s true. And yes, she’s a bit older than 22 now. But not in spirit. Not in the least. Only in body. “I’m so tired of my body,” she was known to say, navigating the knife-sharp stabbing pain if she twisted the wrong way as I would try to settle her back comfortable upright against a stack of pillows. She wants to escape her body as our little Bochella gerbil can climb up on top of her water bottle to try and nudge up the mesh lid off her cage.
Restore my mother to the youth of the beautiful young woman who dared to ride a horse up a mountain in a thunderstorm, and she’d prove us all wrong. She would be able to balance that tight rope. With grace and a courage that in my own life I have never known. “Don’t be afraid of life,” she has always told me. Still. I fear it. Like gazing down into murky waters and imagining dangers that don’t even lurk there, like electric eels in the small Vermont lake we used to vacation at when I was a child.
I pray a lot these days. Actually, I’ve been too worn out to pray coherently. More the kind of praying, that now that I’m home, and my mother has another aide (momentarily?) where I sit on my lounge chair and stare out at the empty bird feeder, feeling too tired to refill it. The kind of praying that is just that, an empty staring at empty bird feeders.
Still. I do have this one specific prayer that this walker tray that miraculously is supposed to accommodate all walkers of all types, will be God’s little plastic gift from heaven.