Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dancing in the Rain

My brother and his wife, my niece and her husband, just left for the long journey home.

The house is suddenly and very strangely quiet. Even in the emptiness, however, the house feels very full.

Perhaps that is because my heart is filled to full measure, pressed down and overflowing. Thank you all so very much for your prayers. You can't possibly know how much of difference it has made.

It has been a rainy, overcast and cloudy weekend, with moments when the sun simply burst through the gray clouds, unable to be contained by the threatening storms.

It has been quite an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace of this wee family reunion.

There have been difficult moments. Reliving old, painful, hurtful memories that seemed better, after, for having shared them - validated and affirmed them - together. ("See? I wasn't crazy." "Oh, THAT's what happened. I always wondered.")

Asking question that have taunted the heart and mind - some, for decades. Questions begging to be asked yet hesitant - anxious that the answer we had created would be the correct one. Fearful about the possibility of the truth contained in the answers.

Relieved at some. Comforted by others. Considering and weighing still more.

I am amazed - all over again - at the ripple effects of the family systems dynamic of triangulation and splitting or emotional or physical cut off .

Seeing it "up close and personal" in one's own family has been an eye-opener. These dysfunctional dynamics can and do get (and in some cases already have gotten) passed down from generation to generation.

Which is why it is so important to name them for what they are and raise awareness of them so that these patterns don't have an opportunity to repeat themselves.

This part of the "family tree" - the vine that has been pruned and left to die - has found new soil in which to grow. I believe we are healthier for it.

Mostly, however, we have simply enjoyed each other's company. Stayed in the now. Neither dwelling too long on the past nor trying to predict or be paralyzed by the worst case scenario of future.

Just dancing in the rain.

It has been more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.

I was just going through my email and found the following in a message from Doug (thanks, darling). I think it sums up pretty accurately the attitude we all have, walking with resistant, baby steps, into the Great Unknown with my brother.

At least now, we're going to do it together. Trying to learn from each other how to turn the March of Dread into a Dance of Hope.

Dancing in the Rain

From a surgical nurse..... via the kindness of Doug

It was a busy morning, about 8:30, when an elderly gentleman in his 80's arrived to have stitches removed from his thumb. He said he was in a hurry as he had an appointment at 9:00 am.

I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would to able to see him. I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would evaluate his wound.

On exam, it was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and redress his wound.

While taking care of his wound, I asked him if he had another doctor's appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. The gentleman told me no, that he needed to go to the nursing home to eat breakfast with his wife.

I inquired as to her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she was a victim of Alzheimer's Disease.

As we talked, I asked if she would be upset if he was a bit late...He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognized him in five years now.

I was surprised, and asked him, 'And you still go every morning, even though she doesn't know who you are?' He smiled as he patted my hand and said,'She doesn't know me, but I still know who she is.'

I had to hold back tears as he left, I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought, That is the kind of love I want in my life. True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.

Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain.


Kay & Sarah said...

That is a powerful and beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

I am happy for you that the visit with you brother and his family went so well. You are in my prayers.

Fr Craig said...

ek, when in my first churches, in rural Kansas, I had a retired theology professor from EDS (John Skinner) as a parishioner. His wife Rosemary was the same, too far gone to know anyone. Wouldn't take communion from me. John would come to church on Sunday, and always leave after the sermon so he could go and eat lunch with her. 3 yrs. later, I hear he has moved into the same home to be with her. I am dumbfounded by such love, doubtful I could do it... but, maybe? God forbid I ever have to decide. My alzheimers patients are the hardest - I just have to trust God. but then, don't we always? bless you and your brother.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Two Aunties, for your prayers.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Fr. Craig - John Skinner was one of my professors. I only pray I may be as faithful and loving.

susankay said...

Elizabeth -- When my father was well gone in Alzheimers, my mother had a heart attack and couldn't go visit him. He was well aware that he didn't have a car but wanted to rent one so he could go visit her in the hospital. Memory doesn't always last. Love apparently does.

Blessings on you and your family.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susankay - This is me. Weeping. And, grateful.