Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finding the Old in the New


It is on the first page of grandma's old photo album
glued to a black page
like we would never want it any place but here.
It could be my granddaughter, born just a month ago,
the same face that is the wallpaper on my phone
round cheeks, dark hair, widows peak, frowny white eyebrows.
This photo is black and white and is my mother
taken over seventy years ago probably
someplace up the hill or across the creek from here.
Her face finding its place once again
on my own first granddaughter.
I hope she also possess her great grandmother's heart,
her intellect, her creative eye, her sense of fairness.
It will make travel in this world more difficult
but worth it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

That Which Abides

Last week, many of the people working on writing histories of the Women of Boulder through the Hogsback Heritage Project, met to talk about and share their projects. I was the one guiding the meeting so I decided to check my Runes to see what might be important to focus on that I might not be seeing. Not much was revealed but one line seemed especially important. It talked about focus on "that which abides." I thought that sounded beautiful but I also wasn't sure I understood abide. Then Friday at the funeral for Jim Turner, the opening song was "Abide with Me." I thought it was interesting that in my consideration of "abide" that this would be the song. So I thought of this word in considering, examining, and writing about someone's life "that which abides". What is the essence of us in the end. Who are we when each day of our action and activities are done. What does it all boil down to when it is all done. Who are we? What will be the common things said of us once we are gone? That is "that which abides." We can think we have balance in our lives or try to do right things but there is that essence of who we are. It is that thing that I recognize when I see my mother in a dream or my grandfather. They don't look the same in my dream but I know their essence. It is that characteristic that I'm trying to find as I write about my Great Grandma Black for this project. I want to find that which abides as her beyond the grave. That which she was at her core for her lifetime and beyond. I thought a lot about it for Jim Turner as we heard his children and friends speak of him at his funeral. That which abides of Jim Turner is not his time as a highway patrolman or as a father but the essence of how he approached each of those jobs. What he brought there, his time, his attention, his caring. That is "that what abides" of Jim Turner. It causes me to think of myself. What will that be when I am gone, that essence that goes beyond my jobs or my roles but how I approached and interacted with those jobs and roles and the people who passed through those positions I held. It is much more difficult to control that which abides because it is at the core of everything.

And then we move to the song. That need each of us has to experience something great "Abide with me." This abiding and being abided is big and powerful and comforting. Maybe it is truly when someone is so with us; when their essences is given; when it is not just their role or position but the very core of their existence, that is what we need especially in our darkest hour but probably always. Because that essence is unchanging and recognizable always.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Paying Attention to Dreams

Last Thursday, I woke up remembering a dream I had about my mother-in-law. I dreamed we were in Hurricane or some place like that and we were going to activities, ballgames, etc. She was getting tired and laid down on a bed. I went over to her and covered her up and patted her for a few minutes. I noticed in my dream that she was wearing her shoes in the bed. Then I woke up. She is in assisted living and is struggling with dementia. When I dream about her, I think it is my warning that she needs some attention but since we were going over to see her the next day, I figured I would check it out then. That day a person from her assisted living called and wanted to meet with us on Monday to talk about some behaviors. We figured she was getting fisty with residents again and thought we might need to talk to her doctor after to change medication. So I figured that was what my dream was about. On Saturday morning, I got a phone call from the hospital. Her assisted living people had called the ambulance because she was having severe back and chest pains. They had left a message on the home phone, so I didn't know she was there. The hospital had decided to send her home. I told them I would come over and get her. I raced over and went into the Emergency Room with her. She was glad to see me and doing much better. The doctor had decided that the problem was muscular and that she would be ok. I waited until they prepared the paperwork to discharge her. When it was time to go, I started to help her get out of the bed so she could get dressed. When I pulled back the covers, she still had her shoes on in the bed. My dream was very accurate. I took her home and helped her to shower. I wanted her to rest but she can't stand to stay in her room. When we met about behavior on Monday, she is following the workers around. She is at a new stage of the dementia. She follows us as well. We take her to our house to see her dog and the kids and then take her back home. She follows us back to the car and doesn't know this is her home. She isn't as agitated when she's with us but she's more lost. It's probably time to increase care, but we are trying to decide the next best place so she doesn't need another change. These are tough decisions. I'm glad we had her live with us for a couple of years so I know that it wouldn't work to move her back, because I'm compelled at each stage but I know better. It's hard to see her lost and confused it's easier as she gets less aware but also harder. She can't help much with telling what she needs or what would make things better so I'll pay close attention to my dreams.