Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby steps and long leaps

Grief is natural when a life ends. A long life, with a life partner is not made easier by platitudes. So often the survivor fails to thrive, withers or takes more drastic action.

Some days are up but still punctured with reminders that startle the unwary. Some days are down but lightened by minescule memories of past. Although I have never experienced this kind of grief, I am humbled to witness other people cope with their emotions.

As soft rain falls on a dull Monday morning I find Nonna rummaging around in the kitchen drawers.

“May I help you?”
I try again, yell, “what are you looking for?” Her startle flusters us both, “oh nothing,” she responds with a hint of furtive. She appears harried, maybe embarrassed, perhaps caught in the act?

“I can’t find it?”
“What are you looking for? I can help you?”
“No……I do it myself thank you.”

An attempt at independence in unfamiliar surroundings? Should I leave her to flounder? Why is it so difficult to know what the right thing to do? It’s undignified to be treated like a child. Has she forgotten what she’s looking for, an all too familiar problem and not restricted to the elderly? Has she mislaid the correct word or only have the Italian version available? I turn my attention away to the potatoes, all of us have eyes in the back of our heads, me, Nonna and a bag full of spuds.

“So tell me?”
“Why you don’t do your pottery no more?”
“No time. You’ve seen what it’s like around here? Absolutely crazy busyness.”
“You should.”
“I know.”
“You need something……to keep your mind occupied…..something to stop…..”
“Me going completely insane?”
“Is that how you feel?”
“Me? No I’m fully occupied thank you.”
Nonna sighs with her hands on her hips, defeated, “it’s no good I don know where it is?”
“I need a little bag.”
“You were right. They’re just there in the drawer, at the back.”
“Bigger……I need a bigger bag.”
“A carrier? They’re over here, do you have some trash….er…..rubbish?”
“No…..I need a big bag plastic bag to put over my head.” I turn on my heel to cast a glance over my fragile mother in law, big bones aside. “It’s o.k…....…we all have bad days….....…come and sit down….......I’ll make you a cup of coffee…….......we can talk.....…….chat….....…about…......…..him.”
“O.k………..but after……”
“After what?”
“After I’ve bathed with the bag as a shower cap.”

At least that provides the opportunity for the ideal holiday


Niksmom said...

OMG, I was so worried until I read that last bit! Whew.

Sandra said...

Maddy -- You are a master story teller.