looking back, looking ahead
Last night made two years since the first time mom didn’t recognize me. Roughly, anyway. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was Saturday night before Father’s Day. If somebody had told me a few minutes before that event what the next couple of years would be like…then what? I couldn’t really have done anything differently. It’s not like I have numerous siblings to share the load. It’s not like I could have run out the door and not looked back.
Maybe at least I could have braced myself, and faced that first time a little more bravely than I did, because y’all, I freaked the complete heck out. I called my cousin in a panic, she came over and tried to snap mom out of whatever had happened to her, and me, I ran upstairs and hid in my bedroom. Seriously. I’m not sure I’ve admitted that to anybody before now (other than Barb who was here of course so she knew it) I had absolutely no clue what was happening or what to do. Not very professional of me, but then, it really isn’t the same when you are dealing with family.
The past couple of months have been such a turn-around, though. After months and months of confinement, going out into the sun again continues to be a joy. My days are always full of things I haven’t been able to do in so long. Yeah, I still rejoice in doing yard work and cleaning the garage! And every night I thank God for it.
The charge nurse at Place K called me the other day laughing. Mom amazes and amuses them with her ability to put herself in the floor when she gets mad or can’t get her way. Not falling, mind you. I went over the other day to take her walker and the nurse demonstrated how mom scoots to the edge of her seat, then comes up, then sits down on the floor on her backside, with good control. I said ‘welcome to my world’. Y’all remember when I told you about this, how mom would do it like a toddler having a tantrum. I hate to say I’m glad they have to deal with it, but I am glad they are seeing what I had to deal with, and I am very glad I don’t have to anymore.
Weight loss continues—I’ve lost 17 pounds since mom was moved out of my house, not from dieting; just relief from stress, I guess, and being more active (though Lord knows as much as I had to chase her around the house, you would have thought I’d get plenty of exercise!), getting regular sleep, and eating better. I mean, I thought about it, and I had to pretty much eat whatever I could grab and shove in my cakehole, whenever I had a moment, whether I was actually hungry or not, because I really didn’t know when my next chance to eat might come around. Now, I have five minutes to fix a nice big salad, AND ten minutes to eat it! Hurrah!
Book is coming along well; halfway through chapter 5 on second rewrite, and getting positive feedback from a couple of folks reading as I go. I’ve made some more earrings, and one experimental bracelet. Earrings are in my etsy shop, but I haven’t polished up the bracelet technique enough yet to feel comfortable selling them. Anyway, my etsy shop is here if anybody is interested: https://www.etsy.com/shop/hellcatblue
And finally, something you know if you follow my facebook. Last Thursday I was out catching up on stuff. Breakfast with my aunt, haircut, eye checkup. On the way home from the eye doctor, the route takes one past a well-respected local tattoo studio. (https://www.artwerksnashville.com/) 8 or 9 years ago, on a day very like that one, I was sitting on the patio of the assisted living facility where I worked, working with a patient, and while waiting for her to work a task, I idly doodled an eight-pointed star on the inside of my left ankle. No real reason, I just liked the look of it, simply four lines crossing in the middle. I left it for a few days, then washed it off, but periodically over the ensuing years I’d put it back.
I’d first gotten tat-curious years before that, when a co-worker showed me the flowering vine tattooed around her ankle. When my parents and I went to the Smokies, mom and I often passed a rather scary-looking tat joint when we went shopping in downtown Gatlinburg, and razzed each other about going in and getting matching ink. At the time I first doodled, my boss had several, and occasionally would try to talk me into getting one. I didn’t, but as time went on, I decided if I ever did, it would be that design, in that spot.
Years went by. Mom got sick. I quit work, and started this blog, and named it after the compass rose, which looks a lot like that design that had come to me out of nowhere, long before any of this ever happened. In fact, I think I mentioned in passing in that very first blog post that I’d toyed with the tat idea. In the months of caregiving, it became a symbol of my struggle to find my way, and since mom’s move, it has remained that.
What was different about last Thursday? I don’t really know. In recent days I’d watched some videos of people getting tattoos, friends of friends, and nobody screamed or flailed around in pain (lol). Also, the studio had posted on their facebook they were taking walk-ins and consults all day. So I decided ‘okay, today is the day I’m going to go ask as many dumb questions as they will tolerate before they throw me out on my butt.’
The gal out front turned out to be the manager. She was lovely and very patient and knew everything I wanted to know, and she didn’t pressure me at all. She called one of the artists who was free, and he came up and asked me to draw what I wanted. Again, those four lines. Then he asked ‘now what does this design signify to you?’ Have to say, I was not expecting that. I explained everything, and he said my blog name was beautiful. As it happens, he has a family member with Alzheimer’s and another who is caring for her full-time, so he understood where I was coming from. He took my crude sketch and after a couple of minutes made it into something simply wonderful…andididit. The words run together are intentional; imagine me saying them all in one breath.
The deed itself only took about twenty minutes. As for pain, it was kind of like sunburn, or somebody pinching you with their fingernails, or at worst, a couple of times, like stepping on a sharp pebble. Seriously, that was it. After a couple of minutes, I loosened my death grip on the edges of the chair, and a minute or two later, I was able to watch without being unnerved. He lined it in black, then put a hint of white between the rays to give a 3d effect. Before I knew it, there it was, my star I’d envisioned and played with for years. And get this, I looked it up (AFTER I got it done. Genius.) and it has another meaning...new beginnings.
My friends say it’s part of reclaiming my life, and I have to agree. It’s crazy to say, I guess, but after this, I honestly do feel a little different somehow. It’s like, I’ve been through a lot, but I got through it; now I’ve done this, and I can handle whatever is ahead. I can hold my head up. I’m not tired or beaten down anymore.