06 April 2011

Tale of a Phoenix: Getting Off My Ash

Annapolis Days.


I am very appreciative of this suspended moment in time, where I get to live in the country and take care of my beautiful Mom 24/7, until she feels better. Life doesn't often afford one the time to breathe, to think, and to love. I have been amazed to the point of delight, to discover that what I thought were a series of "Does-the-Universe-dislike-me-or what?" hardships in the last six months, was actually the Universe preparing me in the most sensitive and loving way possible, to be exactly where I needed to be, at exactly the right time. Which is: Here. Now. I went from being the Gold Medalist In Competetive Misery, to being someone who is actively happy and grateful, every damn moment. -And yes, if I was you, I'd be raising a skeptical eyebrow right about now. But...

Today, 3 weeks after the death of my justifiably-worshipped Dad, I went with my  Mom for a walk in the frail, hyacinthine twilight. She's getting over double pneumonia, and, I suspect, making up her mind whether to live or die. Dad waited till two days after their 60th anniversary, to make a graceful departure...he was her life, and she was his heart, and how does one renegotiate so delicate a deal as that?

But we walked, and talked, and all of the mother/daughter/family bullshit and neuroses fell away, and we discovered something as amazing as the sighting of a hitherto unknown star: we discovered a friendship worth exploring and savoring. Sure, she's my Mom, and I have to love her, but we found out we LIKE each other tremendously. I was always Dad's girl: same gray eyes, eccentricity, and messiness...but when one "chooses" a favorite parent, one unconsciously does the other parent- and one self- a grave injustice: one unconsciously rejects the aspects of that parent that could really add immeasurably to both of your lives.

Mom knows about nature. I, um, don't. She can look at a plant and say confidently "that's a daylily", and I will say, "Dude? You're on crack. That's an unidentifiable green thing. " Then she'll show me how she knows that that anonymous green shoot has a history and identity of its own. It's moving, (and would be even more moving if I didn't have a mild version of traumatic brain injury that both makes me a world class psychic and gives me the shortterm memory of a concussed duckling, so tomorrow I'll ask the same question about the same damn plant.)

Mom was a history professor at a variety of Ivy League schools, and has, it seems, pretty much all of human historical doings at her fingertips. I was discussing Ghenghis Khan (and his lovely wife Sylvia), and she brought up the Assyrians, who had previously set the GK record for Most People Slaughtered Pointlessly For Reasons That Aren't Immediately Clear.

"They killed at least 3 million people," my ethereally beautiful blonde Mom said, dreamily.

"3 MILLION?" I gasped. "But there weren't actually three million people ALIVE at that ppoint, were there?"

"Not for long," she agreed, and said that there were enough folks left over to repopulate, although for a couple of hundred years or so, it WAS noticeably more difficult to find an extra man for dinner parties.
"Bob?" -"Nope, we slaughtered him."  Silence.
"Claude?"
"Decimated."
I forget how we got onto the subject of patholgical mass slaughter, but it was a beautiful April evening and the daffodils were nodding pleasantly at us, and the pansies, velvet purple and yellow, were singing show tunes as we passed....anyway. The fact is, we got along. Very nicely.

I will return to my life in NYC, and be Fabulous (or possibly not-who cares?) again. But for now I'm cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for Mom. I take her to doctor's appts. I'm getting a driver's license. I've learned to pump gas. I know how to work a blood pressure gauge. I found her a grief counselor. I've lived through the chaos that follows the death of a magisterial patriarch, and learned to have love and compassion when I really didn't f#*king want to, thank you very much.

And I'm a size four! Woo hoo!

I don't know what the point of this piece is, except that the last six months--which at the time, seemed like the worst possible ever, on steroids--suddenly make a very beautiful sense. I'm learning what a benificent and not very patient Universe wanted me to learn. I've learned to turn poison into medicne. I've learned to love and forgive when it makes no sense to do so, because that's what I'll want someday. And I've learned that my Mom kicks ass and takes names when it comes to knowing about genocide, botany, and flirting.

There are worse legacies.

I love you. Good night.
xxx












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