A few bits and pieces of reflection from the last week:
Home. Sleeping in my own bed, upon which Jamaica the Spaniel springs as soon as she's let out of her kennel in the morning. She follows Beve around while he's doing his morning ablutions, then, as soon as the door closes behind him, jumps back up on my bed and presses her body into my back for another couple of hours. Because I sleep more soundly in the morning, I'm always able to snooze with that 40 pounds lying on my backbone, but it's no easy task. But the moment I dislodge her by rolling onto my back, she has her face in mine, nudging me to get up and on with the day--preferably with ball in hand ready to throw for her.
Now we're on the couch in front of the fire, and Jamaica is as close to me as her fur will allow her, her nose lying right on the keyboard. This is one hyper Springer, but when she's quiet and cuddly, she's just about as adorable as a dog can be. I think she's as glad I'm home as I am to be here.
The time in Pullman was about what I expected--good conversations with my sister; catching up with an old friend I always try to see when I'm there; but primarily living in that never-never land that is my mother's existence now. You just never know what's going to come out of her mouth. She's moving away from the nursing home today, back to the Alzheimers unit in the retirement complex where she's lived the last 2 years. Thank God for that move, too. Really. The nursing home is incredibly depressing. It's been in the same place, same condition as long as I can remember. When I was in middle school, I used to volunteer up there, singing with my church choir, reading stories for the bed-bound, dodging wheelchairs in the narrow, linoleum-covered hallways. I swear a couple of the people still staring blankly into space in the activity room where the ones who once grasped at my hands, thinking I was their daughter, granddaughter, mother, sister, friend. And the smell--I guess you just can't get that smell of disease, terrible food, and medicine out of walls and floors and ceilings after so many years. It's no wonder my mother alternates from tears to sobbing most of the time. She doesn't like having a roommate, either. Mom didn't have any siblings and the only person she ever actually shared her space with was my dad, and she barely remembers him. So this strange woman who had terrible posture and talks to the TV really annoys her. Mom talks to herself too, of course, but she doesn't connect the dots.
Had a great time in Spokane with SK. The play, "Museum", was, as a friend commented, quite abstract, but also very funny. And SK is funny in it. She's always been good at comedy--and, though you might not believe me, I'm saying this as objectively as I'm capable of being. I don't know what it's like for the rest of the world, but when my child's doing something--singing, playing sports, acting, speaking--I can be quite myopic. I have to remind myself that there are others also performing. The thing is, there's a part of me that thinks they are the most miraculous, perfect people (apart from Jesus, of course) God ever created. And that piece of me co-exists with the bit of me that sees, knows, bears the brunt of all their flaws and failings. This is true of every parent, I'm sure (well, at least the good ones). Anyway, I enjoyed the play--both nights--and even the woman sitting next to me said that SK was adorable in the pink suit and white pumps. Beve and E were there the second night, and Beve didn't fall asleep during the performance. This is as high praise as Beve can give for such things. And he laughed, which, along with watching the kids do something, is one of my favorite things in life.
We also went to the wedding of some friends' son. Watched one of our oldest friends in the world as he did the marrying. What a privilege to be a part of that company, to witness the joining together of people who are, as the groom's mom told us, "on the same page spiritually. Equally yoked." And especially listen to our friend do great justice to one of God's Holy sacraments. His words were profound, his heart was tender, and God was present in all of it.
Mostly, though, it was good to be with SK, just having her around. She's just starting her life now. I mean, though she wants to please us, make us proud of her, most of what she does comes from a desire to please God, to do what will honor Him. We don't have to be the go-betweens, so to speak. When children are young, parents have to be the arbitrators, must decide for them what is best and His will for them. As they age, the goal of parenting should be to increasingly give them the power to do seek Him for themselves. Even to make the wrong choices. It's the hardest thing we do as parents, releasing that control, but also the most gratifying. Isn't it? To watch as they struggle with, and come to a place of peace about who He intends them to be and do--I love this as much as I love anything about being a parent. And it's odd to think that now, as an adult child, I am helping do for my mom exactly what I did for our kids all through their childhood. Exactly what my parents did for me. With my siblings, I'm the arbitrator of her life, deciding what is best for her, what God wants for her. She's beyond her ability to make any such decisions just as our kids are fully engaged in making theirs. What a cycle life is, isn't it? Someday, E, J and SK will become for Beve and me what we are for our parents, what we have been for them. Seeking God for our best, depending on each other to help see what is good, acceptable and perfect for us.
It's good to be home, it was good to have gone. It's snowing again here in Bellingham, and I'm just sore and tired enough to no get off this couch for the rest of the day! May God be in that too.