We lounged on the patio in my in-law’s backyard in early March. It was almost 80 degrees. A bluebird fluttered on the branch of a nearby magnolia tree and cardinals sang their sweet song in the fig tree. An hour earlier deer pranced nervously on the red Georgia clay.
It was beautiful. Blue sky, red earth, blossoming spring daffodils.
Yet our spirits felt heavy.
We traveled to Georgia again (see the post about our recent visit in December) to help Barry’s parents. This time it proved much more stressful. His dad had fallen and was hospitalized; his mom needed immediate placement in assisted living. Both parents required extensive care and it took Barry, his brother and both spouses to navigate through the days.
We basically slid out of the Upper Peninsula in late February after a 24 inch, two-day snowstorm.
We plowed our driveway, shoveled and raked deep snow off the roofs Monday and Tuesday before we could leave on Wednesday morning. The snowy roads were challenging and we almost slid through two intersections on our 90 mile drive to the airport. A woman there said her husband glided through a stop sign in front of a policeman. The law wagged his finger at them, but let them proceed.
Upon airport arrival we discovered zero parking spots. None. Unless you wanted to dig out a spot in the snow. We have wisely learned to carry our shovel on winter trips to the airport, so guess what? Barry shoveled. I snapped a photo from within the car. Sorry it’s not much of a photo. I didn’t want to wade through the snow in my sneakers and document the indignity.
We spent almost two weeks in sunny beautiful spring-like Georgia. It was really challenging, except for shining moments of momentary peace such as when I took a stroll through the neighborhood. The above photo is of a tiny nearby pond that always intrigues.
I also loved the way the long shadows crept across the road. There’s juxtaposition everywhere. Contrasts everywhere in this world. Dark and light play with one another. Babies birth and elders falter and die.
It’s sad when it’s time to say goodbye to our precious elders.
Within those two weeks Barry’s dad received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer spread to his bones. We found a wonderful assisted living place for his mom. We wrangled with banks, utilities, power of attorney, you name it.
I could type on and on and on about what we’ve all experienced, but many of you have confronted similar transitions with your loved ones. You know how hard this is. How painful and scary and sad. Yet within the amphitheater of challenging life there are still moments where a son and his mom can clown around and tease and even laugh.
We are so happy for that trip in December. We knew then that life was very tentative for them at age 89. We are just fortunate that events unfolded the way they did–it could have been much worse.
Barry’s mom’s spirits have brightened so much. Her smile reminded me of a daffodil in bloom. She doesn’t really know what’s happening with her husband of 64 years because of her advanced dementia. She lives moment-to-moment-to-moment, sometimes recognizing us and sometimes confused.
We returned home this week in the aftermath of an ice storm. From daffodils to an ice storm! Our electricity was out in the house when we returned, but came on within the hour. We had a chance to rev up our generator and make sure it still worked.
We’re still trying to help Barry’s brother and wife walk this journey from afar, but so grateful that they are nearby. It was so sad to say goodbye to his dad, knowing that was probably our last goodbye to a man we so love and who so loves us.
Mostly we’re just trying to regain our equanimity this week. These times of transition can be so hard.