Flowers That Remember

I walked into our local florist today. Exactly ten years after one sad day, a month and five days since my last post, and ten minutes after sitting alone in a restaurant eating breakfast … I entered into an array of color. Expecting to buy a small spray of forget-me-nots, they had none. My vase of expectation remained empty as I left, but hope is never defeated.

It will take a few hours to re-visit the small blue flowers because I must attend to my business. It is a difficult day. Ten years ago, mom died from cancer. She is one of two small – never to be forgotten – flowers I expected to have close to me now. The other? A recognition of the shrinking brain known as dementia. Forget-me-nots are the symbol of this slow moving disease that slowly peels away reason and sense from those we love.

Within the beautiful arrangement that is my life now, I have a recognition of a life gone from cancer and a life present with dementia. Two wonderful flowers in a vase on my mantle today.

There’s no denying a reality. What is … is. Conversations repeated, forgotten sentences, anger over recognized loss – yet a small understanding, still, of a diagnosis in the early stage … all of this in a bouquet known as dementia. A reality so many experience daily. I am understanding this path with every inhaled scent and sensibility I can gather as two of us walk together. We are pals. We are stemmed together, yet trying to maintain our independence at the same time.

It is difficult. Especially today, it is hard.

Does he remember that day ten years ago? Is it meaningful? Is a forget-her-not in there somewhere? I believe it is … and he should water that memory as best he can.

I have my sad – and wonderful memories – of that day. I always say, “When mom died, it was the best day of my life. I started a new journey, … a new me. She was exceptional. A fantastic mom. That said, I had to grow up. My biggest supporter (and crutch) was gone.” I began anew. The past ten years would not have been what they were had mom not died.

Do I miss her? ABSOLUTELY!! Do I miss the “old” me? No.

So, here life is. Two forget-me-nots – not in a physical vase yet. No picture to show here … just words. Words one will never hear again and another may hear, but not fully understand.

I am ok with both.

I’m not ok having over a month go by without writing a blog entry, however. It is life, though, and quite acceptable when gaps in a shrinking brain require my attention.

Dementia sucks. Cancer sucks. That said, I do intend on keeping hope alive later today. Forget me not as I press on toward finding small blue flowers of hope.

Morning Sun’s Facetime

In between the occasional seasonal sneezes, drilling sounds from a necessary garage door repair to my left, and anxious, happy doggie barks inside, this sun provides me much needed calm. Warm facetime across a right cheek as I sit comfortably on a rocking wicker chair – morning feel good massaging a pre-Friday, 7:45 a.m. sore body. Ninety-four million miles away, yet immediate relief after two days of uphill crazy-town, mental drive-throughs with peoplefolk.

It wasn’t their fault, I guess. Better to dismiss it away than to get in the weeds trying to figure out why conversations and activities go the way of ridiculous. Especially in business dealings, I find myself in the land of the lost when folks don’t consider time or effort valuable … especially when spent on their behalf. Nobody needs a bucket of praise here. Just a simple dribble from the faucet of respect would have been nice the past 48 hours.

And so I sit, quite peacefully, on a well-accepting agreeable chair while the sun’s 8 minutes of aged warmth reaches my face. It feels 100% amenable to what I need right now: Quiet in the midst of drilling, barking, and sneezing.

Connecting to what has been around for 4.6 billion years is better … for now. Sitting on a back patio wicker chair for a few precious moments, away from everyone except two guys repairing a garage door, is what repairs a soul. Breathing in the history and snugness this sun provides, while allowing the denim cushion on which I sit to ease in the day, fades away all the discoloration from days past.

These are the nice carve-outs we need.

I don’t expect life to be a perfect, tasty pie of sweetness all the time. It’s rough. Days are challenging – we know this. Gosh, the past year-and-a-half, right?. Life is difficult. My family will soon experience how so.

Monday, I expect life to change drastically for a loved one. That day’s decision will affect a lot in his life, although the sunshine rising early on the days remaining in his life will remain steady. Schedules, friends, hobbies, and other constants he has known are going to adjust because the independence he has known is being driven away. His license, most likely, will be, sadly, taken away. I hope this won’t be the case, but the glaring exit ramp ahead is too obvious to avoid. Mental traffic has been congested and we need to clear the roads ahead for him.

… And it’s up to the son, his loving siblings, and the sun, to find a way forward for a dad who has been challenging at times, a loving father as only he knew how to be, and companion to me across many a lunch and dinner tables.

This will be a few days from now. As it stands, Father’s Day is Sunday – the day before a doctor’s appointment happens soon after sunrise. I have a small gift wrapped for him. I wish I could wrap the sun for him and reverse time instead of the gift.

My past few day’s inconveniences are minimal compared to his potential life-changing few minutes. This carve-out helps me look at big picture things. It’s time to think. Ninety-four million miles away, yet so close is the sun and a son who is thinking about his father.

My hope is he will find his morning sun’s facetime soon after we leave the office.

Find your morning sun to set aside crazy-town peoplefolk and focus on others who have life struggles ahead. They’re under the same sun. Eight minutes of aged warmth will reach you … and touch the faces of those who reach an age when life just isn’t the same anymore – like dads who did the best they could.

One Step with a Sister Smile

Every day. Every day, before taking the first step of fifteen up a flight of stairs, I glance over to my right. This picture hangs among many … so delicate it is in my line of sight. Never do I ever pass by without thinking of my sister – if only for a second or two. This isn’t to say she’s not around. A few hours and a quarter tank of gas, I’d be at her front door. “Go west, semi-old man … “, and visit your slightly older sister sometime!

We weren’t old back then, for sure. The two of us hung out together a lot. Not surprising a picture showing off our smiles exists because it happened on porches, in boardwalks penny arcades, cheap family motel suites, and while we donned off-white cherub choir robes. We had each other to bounce smiles off of when happys and giggles hid behind adult stresses and concerns swirling about our home.

Yes, I do think about my sister when passing by this picture. Today, more than a few seconds…

…It’s because we’re so much alike – today, yesterday, and tomorrow. As adults, those three days, no matter when they fall on the calendar during any year, provide us with,”you, too?” moments. Times when we connect experiences together are wonderful. Separately thinking or acting lives in worlds, separated by concrete and time, come together in seconds through a phone – vanishing the weeks gone by during which we didn’t connect.

I stopped in to see our dad this afternoon. As usual, he was talking to my sister and chatting up the news of the day. She listens, he talks. So goes the daily long-distance phone call between the oldest of three and her father. I, the middle child – an appeaser and quite possibly the eyes and ears on the ground – am very comfortable checking in to see if all is well with the man who now struggles with names and occasional logic patterns. These are the smiling roles both my sister and I gladly play in the theatrical performance of a one-man, late stage in life, show.

We communicate ideas and thoughts just like we used to do in those rooms and arcades. Just now, the skeeballs, sandy footprints on the boardwalk, cherub robes, and baseball cards on the front porch have been replaced with “What to do’s?”, and “What to thinks?” about our dear dad.

Dad is fine, kinda. No worries, yet. The “You, too?” moments now are connected with wordy sentences sounding like answers we don’t really have at the moment. “Oh, you heard him say that, too?”, or “Man, I think I feel the same way …”. followed by a bunch of back and forth wadda-ya- thinks?

We know these moments aren’t unique to us. Thousands of sons and daughters have these conversations every day. Perhaps you are chit-chatting ideas back and forth over wires or airwaves with someone you love much as I love my sister? She and I are really trying our best to pilot this plane we have no idea how to fly.

For now … and today, after stopping in to see him, we went out for lunch. The usual Wednesday Canal burger satisfied my hunger while he decided a conversation about the local road construction was the best use of his time. Actually, this was a relief from politics and money … his usual go-to. Sure, names were a problem and I was glad to help. So goes life.

I have a sister, never forget how and when to smile, and never miss that first step. We were young once. I still feel that way when I see that picture, if only for a few seconds. There will come a day for me, possibly, when I lose my ability to remember names, places, or experiences. If that day comes, I want to smile….

I believe that is the first step in any process … no matter the challenge. I’m just one of the fortunate ones to have a sister by my side. If only in a picture fifty years old hanging so delicately in my life most times, that’s perfectly fine; however, I like the phone calls, too. I think she’d agree.