My mom, Dave, Julia and I traveled to Pennsylvania to visit family over the weekend. We arrived at my grandmother’s house very late on Friday night. Julia was thrilled to spend the night sleeping on a blow-up air mattress and insisted that the dog – a beagle named Bigfoot – sleep with her. Dave and I slept in a bed, just the two of us. All alone. Without Julia in between us. We embraced. We snuggled. We touched each other with actual body parts all night long.
We think we need to get Julia a dog.
The next day, we visited my Uncle Pat and Aunt Jan. My cousin Bobby and his wife Lisa came over so that Julia could play with their two-year old daughter, Paige, and I could hold the new, three month old baby, Cristen. I held her for a long time, talking softly and kissing her sweet baby-scented head. I counted her tiny fingers and tickled her bitty toes. I sang to her. I made her laugh by buzzing her tummy with my finger bee. When she seemed tired, I hugged her close and she chewed on my arm until my entertainment value had been expended. Then, her mommy scooped her up from my arms and returned to her rocking chair. Soon Paige decided she wanted her mommy, too. So, Lisa held Cristen close on one lap and pulled Paige up on the other. I guess I was staring because Lisa looked at me, gave a playful eye roll and said, “I’ve had to get used to this.”
I gave her the best smile I could muster while holding back tears. Dave put his hand on mine and whispered, “We’ll have another baby, Leslie. We will. Just give it time.”
I love my husband. Have I told you that? I do.
After that, I went outside to play with Julia and Paige. We colored with sidewalk chalk. We played hopscotch. We had a tea party. It was lots of fun.
Later that evening, we went to visit my grandfather for the first time since his move to a nursing home. My grandfather has Alzheimer’s.
I have spent a lot of time visiting nursing homes in my life. Every Sunday afternoon of my childhood was spent with my father, a minister, providing services for the residents of our local nursing homes. By the time I was a teenager, I was spending time there on my own, too. Mostly, I was there to visit Hazel. She was a wise old woman who had suffered a stroke. It had impaired her ability to speak, which made her difficult to understand if you didn’t have a little time and patience. She was unable to move the right side of her body and could no longer write. I used to come by now and then to compose letters to her family. She would dictate them to me since the nursing home staff was too busy to do it. We enjoyed each other’s company and the time we spent together left me with a warm feeling about places like that.
My mom, Dave, Julia and I arrived at the nursing home around 6:45 p.m. that evening. We signed in at the lobby desk and began the walk back to grandpa’s room. I was impressed with the dining area that boasted a courtyard view – it was actually quite elegant and I said so. My mom replied softly, “It is nice, but he doesn’t eat here.”
We continued through the cafeteria, down one corridor, then turning down another. We walked for what seemed like ages until we reached a set of thick, brown doors. My mother punched a code into the keypad and we pulled the doors open to enter the lock-down unit where my grandfather now lives. It was not elegant. It was stark white and it smelled like pee. The hallways were littered with wheelchairs, some occupied, some not. I tightened my grip on Julia’s hand as we moved slowly down the hall. She was scanning the patient pictures next to each door, looking for her great-grandpa’s face. I was scanning the open rooms, catching glimpses of the residents in their beds, coiled up and still, like they were frozen in time.
When we reached his room, the door was closed. The space where his picture belonged was empty, but his name was printed below it in black marker. We checked in at the nurse’s station to make sure it was alright to go in and visit. The nurse said, “Oh sure. Just open the door. He always has it closed.”
She walked us down the hall and opened the door, “Bob, you’ve got some company.”
That is when I saw him. He was lying on his bed, with his back to us. He sat up, quickly and turned around. His glasses were off and his hearing aid was hanging out of his ear. He looked up at us expectantly. He didn’t know who we were.
My mom walked in first, sat next to him and replaced his hearing aid as she said, “Hi Dad.”
His face softened and he smiled, “Oh, hello sweetheart.”
Julia ran up and handed him a sandwich bag with a chocolate cookie inside. I quietly sat on the bed next to his and watched as she removed the cookie and demand he eat it right away. She bounced around, talking and singing to him. He watched her closely, only looking away to ask my mom to repeat something Julia had said. She talked about piano class and t-ball and ballet. She told him that she was now three and asked him how old he was. He held up his hand and said 32. There was a bracelet around his wrist that activates an alarm if he attempts to leave the unit.
I stood up and walked around his room, noticing that all of his belongings – his clothes, shoes, pictures, cards – were stacked on his dresser. He told us that he was ready to go home. He just couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him. As he grew more agitated, we began to hear a man out in the hallway. He was moaning and hollering, “Lord! Help me! Someone! Help me! Oh, please. Help me!”
Julia scampered across the room and glued herself to my hip. I held her close and she said, “Mom, that man out there is scary.”
My mom wisely suggested that grandpa take us down the hall to show us the community room. Dave, Julia and I filed out first in hopes of putting some space between Julia and the scary man, but the hallway was cluttered and full. I picked Julia up and we stood outside the door, waiting for the traffic to move. The scary man began to approach us calling, “Help me! Help me!”
A nurse was standing nearby. She noticed Julia and said hello. Julia replied, “That man is asking for help. No one is helping him.”
Just then, some space broke open and I moved swiftly down the hall. When we reached the community room doorway, I put Julia on her feet and took her hand. We walked in slowly. The room full of residents came to life in a wave as we moved by. They pointed and gushed, “Look at the little girl!” and “Oh, look at how beautiful!” and “It’s a baby! A baby! Do you see her? Look at her hair!”
Julia smiled and waved. She said hello. She was a very good girl. We moved to the end of the room and I released the breath I’d been holding. I turned to see my mom walk in with my grandpa. The scary man was following behind them. The room felt so tight and close, I felt light-headed, so we walked back to grandpa’s room and waited for him to return. When he did, he showed Julia his pictures and I carefully placed them on his bulletin board rather than replacing them in the pile on the dresser. I told him that pictures this beautiful should be displayed. He said he wanted to take his pictures home. When we were no longer able to change the subject, we knew it was time to leave. My mom gave him a hug and a kiss, Dave shook his hand and Julia waved bye bye. I hung behind for a moment, stood right before him so we were face to face and said, “I love you, grandpa.”
He didn’t know me. I hugged him to me and he patted my shoulders, “Alright then.”
Once we were on the other side of the big, brown doors, I took my mother’s hand and we walked down the corridor together. I told her, “You did great, mom. You did great.”
She nodded her head as tears fell from her eyes. We told each other that this was the right thing – that he needed to be there. And I know that it’s true. And even though I could tell you about the fires he set, the property he has damaged, the harm he had brought to himself and my grandma – all the things that led our family to take him to the nursing home, there is nothing that will ever make it feel alright.
My grandpa and me:
Today is one of those days where I would have been happy to just stay in in bed and read a book from cover to cover. But I am not in bed. I’m hanging around in long, fuzzy pants. You may be asking, “Why Leslie? Is it cold where you are?”
And I would tell you no. It is not cold. It’s more about my mood. I’m in a long, fuzzy pants kind of mood. I only wish I had some big furry sox* to wear, too. I don’t, though. My feet are naked. And cold. I contemplated taking up knitting so I could knit myself some sox*, but then I got tired of that. Knitting probably takes some time to learn. I’m not up for that much learning today.
I have sox*, though. Just in case you’re wondering about that. You shouldn’t feel bad for me. I own sox*. I have them. I just don’t have furry sox*. It isn’t a dire situation.
You know what is a dire situation? The situation in which Julia needs a popsicle. She has been following me around declaring, “Mom! PLEASE HAVE A POPSICLE!”
I cut her off after four. Although she will debate that I only gave her two. They’re those double popsicles with the two sticks. They look like this:
I break them in two and give her one stick at a time. She’s had a total of four sticks. Even though I’ve told her she’s had enough and that she should not ask again, she continues to make demands for them in rapid succession and I don’t know how to make her stop.
Just so you know, banging my head against the table each time she pauses to take a breath does not work.
Speaking of my head, I’m thinking about the hair on it. I think I want to cut it. Short. I’m thinking like a Jane Lynch do. What do you think?
You think that you don’t know who Jane Lynch is. Am I right? You know her. You love her, too. If you don’t know her, you must go and watch A Mighty Wind right this very moment. Whatever you are doing, it cannot be more important than discovering Jane Lynch and the magnificient comedy that is A Mighty Wind. Go wherever you must to retreive the film and view it. Tell me you love it. If you don’t, lie to me. And if you’ve already seen it and you love it, well, then you…you are my favorite.
And now that I’m out of segues, I’ll just ask you: Do you have any idea how much I love Tommy James & The Shondells? I love them. Truly. I’m all about “Crimson and Clover” right now. And if you can slow dance to that song with your special someone without it leading to sex, then you need to rethink your relationship. It’s a sexy song people. Not the Joan Jett version, though. Just the original. By Tommy James & The Shondells. S-E-X-Y. Go put it on and get you some.
Right after you enter The Haiku Buckaroo Contest.
*Edited to add a THANK YOU to Karly for pointing out that the correct spelling is actually SOCKS, not SOX.
This humiliating experience is not unlike the time I included information about the trip to see the “Calves” play basketball in Cleveland on the Greek Council agenda in college. And I did really go to college, by the way. Despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Julia is very creative with her sandbox. Here she is making a castle, “for a mermaid to live in.”
Have you entered The Haiku Buckaroo Contest?
I love haiku. They’re great fun to read and a quick, but effective writing challenge. I write one everyday – it gets my creative juices flowing.
Now, I want to get your juices flowing! I want to see your haiku! So, without further ado…I announce to you…
The Haiku Buckaroo Contest
To enter the contest:
- Write a haiku and post it on your blog. Be sure to mention this contest and link back to this entry in your post.
- Then, e-mail me the permalink or leave it in a comment.
- If you don’t have a blog, don’t fret. You can enter by submitting your haiku in a comment.
- Be sure to provide an e-mail address so I may contact you if you win.
- You may enter more than once.
- I will post links to each haiku entry in the order I receive them.
The contest deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, August 10th.
I will post the winner here on Monday, August 13th.
Now, get writing! I can’t wait to see your haiku!
Image and Wonder submitted by Jenn in Holland
Put It All Together submitted by Jenn in Holland
Are You A Haiku Buckaroo? submitted by Toni at This Simple Life
Haiku Buckaroo submitted by Mackeydoodle
Garden Shoes submitted by Jenn in Holland
Gifts and Honors submitted by Jenn in Holland
The It’s Not Even Sunday Haiku submitted by Stacie at The Twinkies
Haiku Fun submitted by Kim at TwinMomma
Haiku for August 1 submitted by Lori at Weebles Wobblog
Haiku! (gesundheit!) by Jami at Not That Different
RIP July 2007 submitted by Mackeydoodle
Haiku Buckaroo submitted by Sam at The Wonderfully Boring World of The Planters
Perfection submitted by Soccer Mom in Denial
Mid-Week Photo Op submitted by Jenn at Quarter Rest
Surfacing submitted by Jenn in Holland
More Haiku submitted by Jami at Not That Different
So I was Discussing Haiku with the Train Conductor submitted by Soccer Mom in Denial
Consolations submitted by Jenn in Holland
Fifteen Haiku about the Farmer’s Market submitted by Jen at A2eatwrite
Gardening in Haiku submitted by Flower Child at Blooming Idiot
Tech Writer Haiku submitted by Charity at Writing Wrongs
Haiku, too (part 3, actually) submitted by Jami at Not That Different
Homecoming Haiku submitted by Daisy at A Mother’s Garden Of Verses
A Teacher’s Lament in Haiku submitted by Daisy at A Mother’s Garden Of Verses
Haiku Contest submitted by Pokerpeaker at Poking & Peaking
Haiku Buckaroo submitted by Dana at The Dana Files
Haiku Buckaroo Contest submitted by Elaine at Blog In My Eye
The Lord giveth…and The Lord taketh away submitted by Elaine at Blog In My Eye
Haiku 2 submitted by Elaine at Blog In My Eye
Haiku submitted by Elaine at Blog In My Eye
Haiku Buckaroo submitted by Jean at Working Mama 247
Haiku with Underwires submitted by Suzanne at The World According To Suz
Sleep: A Haiku submitted by Julie at Learning & Laughter
Video Haiku submitted by Yoshi at Hello! Yoshi
Cat Haiku submitted by Tiggerprr at Tiggerprr’s Scratching Post
Happiness Haiku submitted by Tiffani at What looks like crazy…prolly is
Haiku Buckaroo Contest submitted by Ruth at Mom’s Musings
Sister-girl Thursday submitted by Elaine at Blog In My Eye
The Haiku Buckaroo Contest submitted by Karly at Wiping Up Snot
Hail Maaaaarrrrghhhy! submitted by GreenTuna at Snappy Casual Nuns
Fun With Haiku submitted by Mamma at Mamma Loves
I wonder if this is what Johnny Cash was talking about? submitted by Sassy at Sassy Tirades
Haiku UnFackingBoLievable Friday submitted by Coodence at Coodence’s World
80s Flashback Haiku Friday submitted by Randi at Randi’s Random Rantings (Randi does haiku each Friday, this is the most recent.)
Sometime in March – I make friends with a mom at the YMCA. Our daughters become friends, too. I am very excited. Making friends has been hard for me.
Saturday June 9th – Julia and I hand deliver an invitation to her birthday party to our YMCA friends. The YMCA friends say they will be there. We are excited.
Wednesday June 27th - YMCA friends cancel on the party. They have a good reason. Everything’s groovy.
Thursday July 5th – YMCA mom invites us to join a playgroup. We say yes. We’re really pumped about the playgroup.
Wednesday July 18th – The first play date goes down. Julia has a blast. She likes the kids in the playgroup and I do, too. There are four moms (myself included) and they all seem nice. I talk way too much (especially about my website), but no one stuffs anything down my throat to stop me, so I’m feeling pretty good. We stay about half an hour longer than we should have, but leave on a high note.
Later on Wednesday July 18th – I compose an e-mail to the YMCA mom with a lot of exclamation points thanking her for such a great time. She had said she’d like to review some books for my site and that she was interested in a magician that is going to be at the library the following week. I ask her about a book and give her the scoop on the magician.
Even later on Wednesday July 18th – YMCA mom e-mails me back. She says she has something to do on Monday, but will try to be there for the magician. I notice her message has significantly less exclamation points than mine does (exactly 50% less).
Monday July 23 - Julia and I go to see the magician. He is really good. YMCA mom does not show. Julia pretends to do magic the rest of the day.
Later on Monday July 23 – I receive an e-mail from YMCA mom. She said she tried to come to the magic show, but thought it started at 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m. She fowards me directions and details for the playgroup this week. (The mom that is hosting playgroup this week lives on a lake. She suggests we bring suits to let the kids swim.) I check the e-mail I sent the YMCA mom about the magic show to make sure I told her the right time. I did. I remember the birthday party cancellation thing. I begin to think that maybe she doesn’t like me as much as I think she does.
Even later on Monday July 23 – I RSVP for the playgroup on our website. I say that we’re coming. I send the mom who is hosting the group an e-mail through the site to say that we’re looking forward to it and ask if there is anything we can bring. Again, I use many exclamation points because we’re really excited.
Very, very late on Monday July 23 – I am in bed thinking about how much I talked at the playgroup. I worry about it. I get up and look at the last playgroup e-mail with the directions in it. I notice the correspondence between the other mothers. Lots of exclamation points. The correspondence with me? Not so many.
Tuesday July 24 – The playgroup host mom sends me an e-mail. She isn’t sure who I am. I am offended. I stomp around the house. Didn’t she remember us? How could she not remember?
Later Tuesday July 24 – My mom and I are watching Julia play T-ball. I tell my mom about the e-mail. I obsess about it. I recall how exhausting it was for Julia to have playgroup and piano class on the same day last week. I pose the following question:
I decide that we will not go to playgroup.
Even later on Tuesday July 24 – I e-mail the moms from the playgroup and say we won’t be able to make it. It is because of our schedule. I do not say it is also because I feel a little unwelcome.
Wednesday July 25th – Playgroup goes on without Julia and me. I miss our old playgroup from Wheeling. I remember that they meet on Wednesday, too. I cry a little bit.
Thursday July 26th – Julia and I hang around after Kindermusik to talk to the teacher and one of the other mothers. They ask about playgroup as I had gushed about how grand it was last week. I admit that I did not go. I say it is because of the schedule and then confess that I felt poopy about the e-mail thing. I tell them that we were going to swim at the lake. I discover our Kindermusik teacher lives right next door to the house we were supposed to visit for playgroup. The Kindermusik teacher tells me how nice that mom is and that there must be a misunderstanding about the e-mail. I think I have a big fat mouth.
Later Thursday July 26 – I arrive home from Kindermusik and check my e-mail. There is a message from the YMCA mom. She says they missed us at playgroup and give us the details for the following week. There is also a message from the mom who hosted the playgroup. The message is very nice. She says they missed us. There are lots of exclamation points. She explains that the first e-mail I received from her was in response to an empty e-mail she received from my address – the message I sent through the playgroup site delivered an empty message, so she wasn’t sure who it was from. I feel like an idiot.
What have I learned from this? I AM A CRAZY PERSON.