Being Frank with the Shot Put Queen

Our adoption agency asked the three of us to be on a panel to speak at one of their home study meetings last Friday. You could feel the anticipation and see the excitement and fear in the eyes of the parents-to-be.

We had those same feelings when we were going through our adoption process. It is always nice to try to help the ones who are just getting started on this adventure. They seem to delight in seeing and hearing Alli, an almost grown, adopted young lady who is doing well.

Our Alli has been home 2 weeks now, and her maturity is beginning to show. She seems to have shed the teenage need to argue so much, and is taking responsibility around the house without our prodding. She’s been exploring her creative side, working on projects instead of just sitting around with her laptop while she rests up from last semester.

It’s been nice to run errands with my sidekick again. We sing in the car and have some great talks and laughs.

We visited with Mom over the weekend. She was in bed, didn’t talk much and kept dozing off. It’s marijuana at work, and it’s doing its job.  Her appetite has increased and she sure does smile a lot. She seems so much more physically stronger and her spirit seems more up. It helps to see her just looking better even if her mind isn’t working.

When I went to see her last night, she was in the dining hall sitting at a table with two of her fellow residents, Essa and Frank.  I observed before I joined them. They are like little kids who don’t know each other, not talking, but watching the other.

Mom forgets that when she is using one hand, the other one still works. She will chase something in a bowl across the tray with her fork, not using the other hand to hold the bowl.

Essa noticed this and my heart was warmed when she reached over and, with both hands, held the bowl for Mom while she took a spoonful of food.

Like a child, Mom didn’t even acknowledge this gesture.

Frank, was quiet…for about three minutes.

I asked him if he was from the area.

Open the floodgates of conversation, please. OH MY.

Now I know all about Frank’s family, their jobs, their homes and how much his son makes.

As I wheeled Mom out of the dining room Frank called after me,

I didn’t know you were so tough!”

I suppose he was just being Frank.

What?

Tough?

I suddenly felt like a biker chick, or maybe a shot put thrower.

Maybe he said that because I told him that like his grandson, I too loaded trucks at UPS (back when there were only two women on our shift). I still have the biceps to show for it. Not pretty, but not shot put thrower arms either.

I chuckled to myself.

Mom smiled proudly. I don’t know if she even understood what he said or if she was glad she’d raised a tough gal.

Or maybe, Mom was enjoying the wheelchair ride down the hall. (She had no idea where her room was.)

She was in a chipper mood and we had a good time visiting even though the conversation is always the same.

I brought her a little soft, stuffed bear, and she named it Smiley. During the course of the evening, she asked me at least half a dozen times what we had named it. ☺

She will ask why she’s where she is and is surprised about the seizure, the testing, the hospital, the nasty nursing home where she spent a week, of moving to this good place.

When we go over the whole story again, she very confidently states that she has only been there for a couple of days.

Next to her bed is what looks like a child’s worksheet page from elementary school. On one side is a list of questions where she has filled in the blanks and on the other is a calendar for May. The days are marked off.This is part of her therapy.

She held it up and asked what it was.

“A calendar”

“For what month, June”?

Does she mean the month of June, or is she once again thinking I’m her sister, June?

I point out the word, May at the top. I think it’s sinking in. Then she looks at the marks and asks what day it is. I ask her to tell me.

While I change the water in her flowers and organize the clothes in her closet, she studies it and ten minutes later comes up with, “the thirtieth?”

I point out the first day not marked out, and she replies, “OH, it’s the 21st!”

I ask her to look at it again.

She gets it right. It’s the 23rd.

I flip over the paper and ask her the simple questions on the back; her name, birth date, where she is, her room number, why she is there.

She answers about half of them correctly.

She enjoys looking at the photos on my phone and this night she doesn’t seem perturbed that I ask her a million questions. She seems to enjoy our game of “guess that face”. Sadly she does not guess many correctly.

Still, she seems to know me and although some details she gets mixed up, the fact that she’s smiling makes me feel that it’s not that bad.

Some days are not so good. When Dad asked what she had for breakfast one day, she snapped, “DO NOT STARE AT ME when you ask that question!”

I made a snotty little sister joke about my brother needing to grow up and out of his teen years, and she came to his defense from a nap I might add, and shouted, “GARY IS AN ADULT!”

Yikes.

Before I left last night, I helped Mom with her bedtime routine, got her changed and into her favorite PJ’s and tucked her in. I noted that she had her new stuffed bear in her hand under the covers. I hope Smiley keeps her company during these days.

When I leave, I always take Mom’s face in my hands, look into her far away eyes and tell her that she’s the best mom in the world and that I love her. She always replies that I’m the best daughter in the world and that she loves me. Nothing left unsaid.

Back home, while she thinks I’m just puttering around the kitchen, I watch Alli working on a project. She’s so young and vibrant. Life is spread out before her like a colorful map.

Mom is nearing the end of the road, and her colorful life is spread out like a well used map behind her.

It’s so odd to be here in mid-life, but I’m embracing it. It definitely has a middle-child feel. I’m not a teen nor young adult. I’m not just beginning my family like those people at the adoption agency. Yet, I’m not old. This summer, my roles seem reversed. Many times I feel as if I’m the child around Alli and I’m the mother around Mom.

I will enjoy the youthful energy of my child and the childlike behavior of my mother as they both find their way.

Instead of my heart feeling heavy like it has for the past few weeks, right now it feels light and full of gratitude.

Have a wonderful long weekend.

XOXO,

Libby Lu

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16 thoughts on “Being Frank with the Shot Put Queen

  1. Oh Libby – You sure do know how to open the flood gates. I enjoy crying and reading your posts & am so glad you are documenting life as you know it for your family & friends! Love You!!

  2. Wow! Well said especially the colorful map. I get it! I look at the kids life and live through them and their adventures. Then call Mom and live through her adventures. I am just a voyeur in all of their lives trying to ensure they stay on their paths. I wish you contentment these days Libby. Contentment that you are the Best Daughter in the Whole World. You are a wonderful example to us all as you can find laughter through the haze of tears. So glad you are my friend.

    • Awww, Thanks Jody. I always knew we viewed life in a similar manner (Through our loved one’s eyes. HA ) Ditto…glad you are my friend. Lunch soon…L>

  3. You have such an amazing gift of sharing this point in all of your lives. I feel honored to read about it. And your mom is right: you are the best daughter ever.

    Happy Memorial Day! Tell my niece-by-magic I’m glad she’s home for the summer.

  4. Oh. Libby……will you allow me to join you when you go visit your mom another time? I would love to see her. Then we can catch up over a cup of tea? : ) Peace, Renee

  5. Oh Libby – when you wrote about taking your Mom’s face in your hands and telling her how much you love her, I immediately saw my own Mom’s face in my hands – locking eyes with one another and truly connecting. I remember one particular moment I told her “I love you so much”; she looked back into my eyes and told me so seriously … “that’s a very good thing!”. I had to agree. 🙂 I know this is a difficult, painful time but I admire your courage and commend you for being able to see and appreciate all the love around you in the midst of the pain.

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