Friday, November 03, 2017

In Between

PDX :: October 20... when we boarded the plane, I called my Mom, We're coming to you.

Twelve hours before, Maria was waking-up to me with my hand on her shoulder, "Maria, we're going on a trip, today." Geoff made all of the arrangements, and the rest of the day I attempted to do every single chore, errand, and gesture of love I could make for my family, before leaving for Oregon.

I love traveling with my children, and always have. Of course, some trips are difficult in spite of good companionship. This post is to recall moments during our visit to Oregon when we found beauty in nature, in family time, in walking and seeing whatever was around us.

Sometime during the day we stopped for chai tea, and then I was too busy, distracted, and flustered to think of eating. The flight was so turbulent the attendants couldn't come around with snacks, and by the time we landed, we were famished. With ten minutes to spare before closing, we slipped into a familiar cafe. I went to the Airbnb app, and found a place for us to sleep. It's always worth noting when things are simultaneously challenging, yet everything works out well enough.

Good morning, Portland :: October 21

Good morning, Petite Provence.

We had our oatmeal, croissants, fruit, butternut squash. I had coffee. Details. The walk down Division Street, the trees and homes, and rain, crossing the Willamette, adjusting my driving from California urgent to Oregon easy, remembering to breath. Details.

We found our way to Grandmother, to my Mom and Aunt, to the days ahead of being company, of doing what we could to be helpful, to support, and... anything of use. Shifts were being shared between my mom and her siblings, with dad coming in between conference meetings. Maria and I would try to give relief to anyone in need, to fill in gaps.

Maria made origami figures, as gifts, for all. And she drew. A card for her great-grandmother, other sketches, and portraits. I can't not say this... she was tireless, selfless, throughout. Maria went where I went, helped, listened, waited, walked, sat quietly, shared generously, and was an affable, sweet, loving companion. I check my words, and tend to be reserved with praise, so this is not effusive applause. Her warmth and sincerity, her patience, maturity, and considerate intelligence were highly commendable, and in all fairness, not exceptional, just especially appreciated in difficult circumstances.

Delia and Maria :: October 22

Morning at Aunt Becky's house, before we took the day shift at the hospital. Henry and Eve were there all night, now Maria and I could go in, and share the time with Aunt Becky and my Mom.

We slept in Eunice's room, where I was happy to be surrounded by Grandmother's things. African violets.

And this tiny photograph of Tia Maria, her aunt that raised her from when she was four years old.

In the hospital room were new things that will remind me of Grandmother, like this shawl the volunteers made as a gift for her, and it is as soft and warm as the sentiments they sent with it...

This shawl was crafted especially for you with love and prayers... may you be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace and wrapped in God's love.

Passing time.

Scenes from our lunch break and walk downtown.

Later, Maria and I went on a second walk, in search of the pink house we could see between trees, through the third floor window.

Trees and leaves, and all of the sights anyone would expect to see in fall, but for us a novelty, and uplifting to notice, enjoy. We loved the colors, the cold air, and the gentle twirl of each falling leaf. We found one or two, or a dozen, homes to fancy as our own, and we found the pink house...

There is, I am sure, a comforting poem about light, guidance, support, about the hope one candle or lamppost can impress. I felt it, there.

October 23...

There were not enough leaves outside. I brought this bunch, and a small rose, into my rental. Mom and I went out on a mission to find that one particular brand of lotion that Grandmother loves. We had to go to Corvallis. Were we away an hour? It was a quick trip, including business-life chores Delia needed to accomplish. It was almost a trivial excursion, but we filled it with laughs and connection, and it felt like breathing when you've been swimming far and deep, and you break the surface of the water before kicking and paddling, again. A relief, and energy for the next lap.

No truer words. This was one laugh we shared... how can dish towel philosophy so succinctly sum up my home-style?

For the fourth time, I have been to Corvallis, but too briefly. It's too beautiful, appealing a town for these short visits. I'll be back, I promise.

Maria and Aunt Becky kept company.

Eunice, Mexico City, 1953, By Maria

Sometimes Grandmother would say a few things, and we offered what we could. We searched for a book she was interested in reading, and played it for her on Audible. We found the lotion she loves, and she accepted massages.

And then another walk... and more houses to imagine, to ask what if?

What if?

This was an angel's work, showing us backyard hens, fat and free-ranging. Chickens are my therapy.

And nature, too... gently, without words, reminding me that there are cycles in life, seasons, and that changes and transitions can happen gradually. Was it poignant, intentional? Or was I just receptive? Flowers seem a fitting messenger to evoke my Grandmother, her life, her loves, her journey.

Night, in Aunt Becky's home. My cousin, Debbie, had some thrift shop finds to share with us, and we settled into things like... laundry, taking pictures of old photographs, and filling the first page of a new sketchbook.

A new home :: October 24... Hospice.

Grandmother asked me and Maria to hold the quilt up so she could see it. We lifted it off her legs, holding it until she nodded. We sat at her bedside, pointing to each print we recognized, running our fingers lightly across the patchwork strips. What is this pattern? I see half-square triangles. And then? Details. Distracting myself with questions about details. Recording details. Grandmother slept. Maria and I stayed the night with her.

There are many reasons I blog, remembering is an important one. I like to write, I love to take pictures. The blog makes for a nice place to keep my pastimes in order, and to give us a story, memories to revisit. My head, even my heart, are full of that last night we spent with Eunice. I could write it all down, literally every detail, by the hour, by the minute. Something in me feels a sense of capturing, holding her in those recordings. I dread losing any memory, as though she is in them, as though I can retain a part, any part, of what I love about her.

It's a terrible and muddled place where I am, in my head. At once heartbroken, anxious, even in denial, and then thankful, humbled, in awe. Every bit of our time there, at the hospital, in the hospice room, was sacred, private, dear for it's blessings, anguished for the suffering. The muddled parts comes from wanting to write it all down, to keep all the details pinned to paper, sealed, and even to share it... because I want everyone to know her, to see her, to feel how precious and dear she is. But the sacred pieces, intimate aspects... I couldn't do it justice, it's not right. We cannot pin things down, we break them, when we try. It's a blessing that we felt it, and in time, in natural and gentle ways we will share what we can, and always hold the memories dear.

And the vigil, the time between, is with us still. My thoughts are on my Grandmother, and with my Mom... and I am thankful, humbled, in awe, again, and again, as I hold them, and all of my family, loved ones, close to my thoughts, in my heart.

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