Courage at Twilight: Slick As Ice

I did not lie. I was truthful.  But my truth was incompletely portrayed.  I had peeled back only one or two layers of the cathartic onion.  Perhaps a reader would not want or need more truth about my Christmas struggle.  “TMI” one of my children might say to another of my children who might catalog the day’s (bowel) movements: Too Much Information.  But I did not write this exploration for a reader: I wrote this exploration for myself, to study and understand what happens in the heart, to maintain my mental health amidst pressures not before encountered, and to remember the tangy sweet-and-sour of these last days.  I have grieved living alone.  I have grieved losing my spouse.  I am beginning to process the griefs of living with, and caring for, my dear dying parents.  My true Christmas griefs—frustratingly fresh, still, after seven years—are none of these.  My true Christmas griefs are the loss of hopes and dreams for a life with an intimate loving partner, the loss of a family unit in a church culture in which the nuclear family is the dreamed-for idyll, the loss of family-together traditions, family reunions, family camping trips, family vacations, family portraits.  I insist that we are still a family—families come in all shapes and sizes and varieties—and under the doctrine of my Church, we are an eternal family unit, connected forever and ever, if we want to be.  That this family has lost something, however—something living and vital and happy—is my sorrow and sadness and grief.  TMI, perhaps, especially for my children, who bear their own crosses of grief and loss and sorrow which they did not deserve and were not their fault.  Crosses I cannot carry for them.  But I can love them, I can lift them, I can believe in them, and I can trust them as they pilgrim through life.  And now I am part of another family, another variety of family, made up of a very old man and woman married to each other for 60 years, and their 58-year-old baby (Mom often calls me “baby,” as in “good-night baby” and she and Dad frequently tell me the old stories of when I was an actual baby in cloth diapers and plastic pants and gumming the crib railing and crawling to the cabinet to empty it of clanging pots and pans and lids)—a threesome family.  And the father of this family went to the hospital today for an MRI of his lumbar back, to look for and rule out an injury that would be causing his dramatic and worsening wasting and weakness, for Dad has no strength to walk, stand, pivot, lift or drop the foot plate on his wheelchair, lift his feet onto the foot plate or slide his feet off the foot plate, or heave himself into the Mighty V8.  What he has called “paralysis” for months, and what the doctors said was not paralysis but profound weakness, has become factually a very real paralysis.  As I walked through the garage door from work, Dad called urgently to me from the bathroom—I ran to help lift his fleece pants over his hips and pivot to lean heavily into the walker.  The bathroom routine has many procedural steps, all important, but the procedural nightmare is, ironically, a doctor visit—the doctors may kill him before his illness does, what with all the consultations and tests.  Sparing the minute sequential detail, I will mention only one step, that of rolling Dad in his wheelchair down the eight-foot ramp.  In the fall I stained and finished the ramp, and it is handsome and shiny and brown…and slick as ice when wet from rain and snow.  The snow came last night, a warm heavy snow, leaving every surface thoroughly wet, and I simply could not wheel him down the ramp today, not without falling on my backside or my face and losing Dad and the chair to gravity and the sloping driveway.  So, in a huge irony, and with great difficulty, I helped Dad up out of his wheelchair, down two steps, and back into his wheelchair, bypassing my beautiful ramp.  If the temperate 50-something weather holds (it will not—this is December 28), I will slather on a grip-paint product recommended by a neighbor, who I think is worried I will kill my dad or myself on my ramp.

2 thoughts on “Courage at Twilight: Slick As Ice

  1. Anonymous

    What a Friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    O what peace we often forfeit,
    O what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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