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Archive for June, 2011

Zen on the Highway

This morning I was driving in to work and the exit I normally take off of the interstate was blocked because of an accident, so I continued on to the next outlet which was a west exit and I needed to head east.  Thank goodness for legal U turns.  As I merged onto the two lane road, I moseyed over to the left and suddenly realized I was going to have to cross a solid white line to get in that turn lane I needed.  Out of reasonable options, I put on my turn signal and started to move over, all the while going at the stated speed limit.  Just as I was about to make my move, I spied a flash of silver and a “bat out of hell” SUV flying up that left turn lane with no intention (or capability) of slowing down.  Feeling that flashpoint of irritation at the rudeness of my fellow-commuter, I laid on the horn and then slid carefully in behind her as we approached the stop light.  I subsequently spied a well-tanned, bejeweled hand out the driver’s window, sporting that universally insulting hand gesture highlighting her middle finger.  Horrified at her progressively negative attitude, I started imagining all the things I could do to respond.  Suddenly, I spied her license plate, “ZEN”, followed by three numbers that no doubt had sacred meaning for her.  I chuckled as I wondered if she could read MY license plate with its special ZEN message framed by wildflowers.

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Time To Let Go

There comes a time, many times actually, for all of us to release something in our life.  This point was driven home to me recently by my 81 year old mother.  She keeps pushing me about getting her driver’s license back.  She’s had several strokes and suffers from dementia and especially struggles with her short term memory.  Her most recent stroke was in January 2010 and she hasn’t driven since then.  I’ve talked to her neurologist about the matter and he emphatically states, “No way!”  When I relay this assessment to my mother, she replies, “Well, I called the DMV and they said you CAN get your license back after a stroke!”  I try to explain that doesn’t mean it’s automatic.  She’ll have none of it.  “It’s time to get a new doctor then!”  You see, she is of the school of thought that if she believes it, then it is true.  I admire that attitude up to a point.  I tell her that there comes a time when we have to accept limitations on ourselves as we get older and she replies, “I will NOT!  I will never get old!  I’m going to live to 100!”  My reply is along the lines of a sigh and acceptance that I now have another teenager in my life and if I have to play the “heavy” I will.

 This gets me thinking about some things I’ve had to let go – some more reluctantly than others.  I think about how I will never wear my uniform in daily service to my country again.  I’ll never again wear a mini-skirt and think I just might look good.  I’ll never enjoy the care-free days of my teen years – overnights with friends, obsessing about boys (phew!), pig outs on Reese’s Cups, and talks until the early dawn.  I’ve learned I’d rather sleep the night and talk some more the next day and feel better.  I’ll never try to match my date beer for beer and I no longer feel the need to get up on the table and dance in my mess dress.  I will never nurse a child again nor feel its quickening in my womb.  Sometimes I long for the comforting and miraculous feeling of the babe in the womb but for now I am content with my memories and I look forward to my grandchildren.

 We’ve all seen the woman that refuses to adjust her hairstyle, her skirt length or her heel height from when she was a teenager – despite her 40 pound weight gain, 30+ years of living and the graying hair in her four foot mane.  Or as John Candy’s 30-something year old character said in the movie “Splash” as he dropped the coins on the ground in order to look up a girl’s skirt, “If you find something that works, you stick with it!”  Well, my friends, some things stop working over the years and it becomes time to try something else.

 I’ll admit that some of these things are easier to let go than others – short skirts and copious amounts of beer are much easier to release than old friends that no longer share a congruent path. And a driver’s license in this country is pretty darn handy given the lack of public transportation unless you happen to live in a big city.  When it comes time for MY daughter to take my driver’s license, I hope I have a plan to work around it AND the ability to accept it.  She would probably rather I still drive so she’s not responsible for my getting around.  So maybe I should listen to her when she tells me it’s time to figure out alternative modes of transportation.  As my sister and I often remark about our mother’s attitude, “DE-NIAL ain’t just a river in Egypt!”

 The loss of the autonomy of a driver’s license and spontaneous trips to the Dollar Store may give way to opportunities to help someone with gas money or the set up of a regular van schedule at the assisted living home.  Or maybe it’s time to let go of the impulsive Dollar Store expenditures.  You can only have so many colored pens and paper clips….

 Of course, it wouldn’t be fair for me to ignore the effects of dementia here.  The refusals to accept reality are partly governed by the loss of the frontal lobe ability.  The lack of a filter is a by-product of that loss too, so I must be forgiving and accepting.  Though I will not give in to the demands for a driver’s license!  Those of you still on the road should thank me and others like me who have stood strong in the face of our parental beratings.  It’s doubly hard to be responsible for a “teenager” 30 years your senior.

 Yes, there comes a time to just bless it, and release it.  May we do it gracefully amidst the realization that there is beauty and perfection where we are.  Right now. 

 May the trips to the Dollar Store give way to trips to the garden.  A new package of colored pens is replaced by deep breathing and calming mantras.  The additional greeting cards for the overflowing collection are exchanged for the time to write a letter by hand.  Time gathering is overtaken by time sharing.  Yes.  Bless it and release it.  Bless it and release it.

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Hello All!

I’ve basically been blogging for several years now with my aunt and sister – various musings about everyday life – with particular emphasis on dealing with my parents with dementia – ok, mostly my mom.  This will be a recurring theme.  Fortunately, my mother usually has a sense of humor about her so my postings will often make you laugh and occasionally cry. 

I look forward to our exchange.

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