Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A trip back

For the fun of it, and because I'm using the Beve's computer until my new AC adaptor gets here, I retrieved some photographs from his hard drive.  My sisters and I took Mom to the beach for her 76th birthday, and had a miserable time with her.  She was definitely being Al's hammered by then, as Grampie is fond of putting it, though she refused to admit it, and her reasoning skills were totally mixed up.  She's always been a morning person, someone who rose before the rooster crowed, ready for whatever the day had to offer, so one morning at the beach, she decided to take a walk on the beach by herself before the rest of us woke up.  This was a very, very bad idea.  She got completely turned around, wandered on that beach for quite a while, and when she finally did find our condominium building, couldn't remember which unit was ours.  So, instead of going to the front desk and asking, she simply pulled her key card from her pocket and tried it in every door on every floor until it finally opened something.  She was very proud of herself for thinking this through.  We were quite dismayed with her for such eschewed thinking.  After that, we never let her leave the place by herself.

 It's odd to look at these photos now and see the life in her eyes and smile.   She was looking straight at my camera with no prompting, no clapping like one would clap for a baby, as she had to be clapped for a year ago.  She was very present with us on the beach that spring, even when she was miserable and making everyone around her miserable as well.  The Dump showed up a day late, and surprised her, and when she walked in, for a single moment, there was a pause as if Mom didn't recognize her middle daughter, but it was simply a flash.  Behind closed doors, when Mom had gone to sleep, we commented on how strange that was.  None of us imagined that a day was only four years off when she wouldn't speak or lift her head or be any more than a shell of a human being.

 I love this photo of my sisters and me on the boardwalk at the beach (Seaside, Oregon, for those of you who don't recognize it).  For all the difficulties of that time, we always love being at the beach.  We got that from our mother.  I'm actually surprised at how much we've aged in the last four years as well.  Life has come at us hard, I guess.  As life has a way of doing at times.  But here we are, and still doing it together.  For my fortieth birthday, Mom made me a photo album of pictures of of my sisters and me.  We've been friends almost as long as we've been sisters.  Not all blood relations can say that, so I know how incredibly blessed I am.  These are women I probably wouldn't know if I wasn't related to them--our lives have not run parallel paths--but how much poorer my life would be without them.  I can't imagine.

We're all dressed up to go out to dinner for Mom's birthday.  Look how happy Mom looks.  Unbelievable.  I'm actually posting these photographs today for my family--siblings, children, aunts, cousins--who have lately seen the shell and may have forgotten that she was ever like this: animated, excited, thrilled to be the center of attention.  I know exactly why she's so full of mirth in this picture.  You can tell by the way my middle, tallest sister is standing.  We call that our 'Grandmomie' pose--head up, chest out, which tends to crack us all up, every time.  Mom most of all.

When I first saw these pictures four years ago, they were simply pictures.  In fact, the trip had been hard enough, with enough catastrophic over-reactions from Mom at every turn, that I put the pictures aside and didn't glance at them again. But now...well, now they make me smile.  Now I'm grateful for them.  Grateful that we took this trip, even if it was hard.

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