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Back Again?

Why are you back again?
You told me you were going
for good – never to pass
my way or hold my hand.

Does your hand need holding now?
Is it that?  Or have I become
a convenience – a stopping off
place between two destinies,
an easy retreat from fear
and frustration.

I did not run behind
– calling for your return,
but let you go – to pursue
your path as you choose,
accepting I was not
the one you looked for,
and still not found.

So why the grand welcome?
I don’t understand –
first you want to be free
and when no chains are there
to bind and chafe tender skin –
you return, only this time
I know how quickly you run,
this time I won’t give over
those bits of soul
freely given before.

Learning me will be harder
this time – and walking out
the door may be easier
the second time around . . .
only – I shall be
doing the walking.

Beginning a Multi-Generational Family

Becoming a Multi-Generational Family when Social Security for the Disabled and Section 8 Housing are involved can be fraught with difficulties.  When my daughter and son-in-law asked me to move to California and be the nanny to their first born, I knew it was the next chapter in my life.  I’m turning 61, a new decade. No hesitation. As I look at the host of hurdles which need to be jumped over, I still know it is the right thing but there is plenty of work to do to make it work.

To begin with, I am a quiet person who has lived the twelve years since my daughter graduated high school alone.  To move into their home with a brand new baby and two dogs is change enough.  Most of the time I don’t have any noise in my apartment save the sometimes relentless talking my cat does.  I just moved, literally a month ago, just purchased furniture needed to make a substantial downsizing work, started back to walking my cat daily, and reduced the outer noise volume to nothing.

I live on Social Security Disability for Working Employees and part-time work as a CNA. This change would mean negotiating the tricky minefield of employee payment within the family unit.  I will also need to figure out a way to keep my Section 8, whether it means renting a room or studio. Should I pod, share a house with other women my age?

I currently live in Connecticut.  What are the best options in this new living arrangement?  Does giving myself options mean I am leaving the door open?  If so, my cat might escape.  And speaking of my cat – all those adjustments I am to make, he is making.  Can a mature, one person pet adjust to so much new?

Moving across country wouldn’t be an issue.  I’ve done it several times before.  But this time someone else needs to drive my car and possessions across the great divide.  And all that downsizing I just did will making will be nothing compared to what will need doing to make this move.  This last move I gave away what I didn’t need.  This time I will need to sell or donate belongings that mean something to me as well as divest myself of things like linens, cookware, dishes, Christmas treasures, a brand new cat tower I put together myself, etc.  Things I thought of as essential.  God has been teaching me things don’t matter, people do.

Boundaries . . . a veritable minefield all its own.  Sharing space with others means listening and comprehending what matters to them.  Being reflective.  Bending and being fluid.  For all parties involved, except the baby.  My family has produced strong-headed people.  My daughter wants to take care of me while I take care of her baby.  How does that work?  I’ve become pretty independent over the years.  I raised both she and her brother, who I will also be closer to, another source for boundary issues.  I have both physical and mental issues now  but none that impair my ability to care for myself.

Values. . . such core aspects of a personality.  I already know my children have different ones than I do.  Especially over religious matters.  Making them merge will be interesting.

Grandparenting, how wonderful, delightful, daunting.  Am I up for the rigors of caring for a child 8-10 hours daily?  What will I do to carve time out for myself?  To keep my independence and soul intact may take a bit of processing.  But this is what I will do. . . with joy and thanksgiving.  The rest is trivia.

Chapter 10 . . . or is it 15?

My daughter and son-in-law called the other night, via Facetime, not a usual occurrence, and she said, “Momma, do you remember when I was a little girl, I always said when I grew up and had a baby, I wanted you to live with me and take care of it?  Well. . . .”

“You’re pregnant?” (Real fast on the uptake).  Eight weeks along.

“And we want you to  come live with us and be our Nanny.”

Of course I said Yes!  I love children, especially my own who live 3,000 miles away and have busy lives.  I was a nanny for 2 1/2 years for my twin nieces and loved ever minute of it.  Taking care of my grandchild, a no brainer.

A caregiver for years, I had been pondering lately how much a toll it was taking on me physically and mentally to work with those with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I didn’t know if I could hold out another four years or more. The opportunity to grow closer to my daughter and son-in-law, whom I barely know, was exciting. And a baby!

Then the multitude of questions started flooding in.  I have been living alone for many years, how would I be within the context of  a family unit?  Could my depression and anxiety stand it? Would I be giving up my Section 8 voucher – something I could well need in the future?  They were only married a year, did they really want to trade off on their intimacy so their child could be cared for someone they knew would love him or  her?

As my daughter’s childhood grew she would say she wanted me to live next door,  then down the street, to slowly evolve into nothingness.  I had been reconciling myself to knowing I would be living 3,000 miles away from my children forever.  This was an abrupt about face.

I asked my daughter, Dani, how Kendall would feel about living with his mother-in-law when he only got to know the few days before their wedding.  Dani said he had been the one to suggest it.  They had talked before the pregnancy about having me come out to live with them.  Those physical and emotional issues I mentioned earlier have impeded my independence, which I treasure.  How could I maintain it in a multi-generational family? Would my life get smaller as it was getting bigger?

They were thinking in foreverness, would that be realistic?  Kendall is starting a Divinity Master’s in May.  They might need to move when he graduates.  Would I be willing to move in three years, they asked?

I had to laugh.  I have lived all over New York State, two places in New Jersey, four in California, and five in Connecticut.  Moving was something I knew how to do.  I had just moved the month before.  I liked my new place, and had downsized  substantially before moving, then bought a few things to make it home.  I will be downsizing one more time.  God has taught me a lesson – not to be attached to things.  Things don’t matter.  Circumstances and people do.

The questions swirl through my brain.  I am about to turn 61, this is a new Chapter in my life.  There have been groundbreaking Chapters over the years.  This will just be another. I recently submitted my children’s book in hope it will be published.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I could read my published book to my grandchild?

Chapters . . . is this my purpose in life?  I’ll have more time to write.  And more to write about.  Grandparenthood – who would have thought it?

My friend

When I needed a strong,
warm shoulder to lie upon,
my head resting
for just a moment,
to spill forth the fear
and rage lying captive within,
you were there . . .
holding me in comfortable
silence and understanding.

If pain became your source
of pleasure or your mind
a raging of bitter strife . . .
I was allowed the honor
of listening to those
jumbled up, tumbled out feelings
so you could have time
to sort the jigsaw pieces
and put the puzzle
back in shape.

Long have I sought a friendship
such as you give . . .
where I don’t fear to lie
exposed to your gaze.
Where I seek the warmth
of your company, rather
than hiding behind those
barriers holding me prisoner.
Where saying “I love you”
carries no threat, no fear,
only a happy glow of finally
knowing a friendship not
bound by conditions.

Who am I?

Who I am
is not of my making
yet not one facet
would I change

I have been pruned,
molded, cast by specific
hands in certain ways –
chipped and whittled
rough edges curling,
splintering off to lie
in abandoned heaps
on the floor.

Now I await
the varnishing, staining
with special dyes,
buffing and polishing.
I am almost whole
but the hands of
a master craftsman
has yet to enter
the production room
for finishing touches.

Who are you?

Who are you –
the child I have
never known?
I hear your laughter
sparkling and fanciful tones
rich and vibrant
or your anger
tempetuous, lightening
flashes of a summer storm.

I gaze with rapt amazement
at your studied countenance
taking every detail
into account as you
memorize each facet
of your existence.
A pack-rat, stuffing
incidentals into corners
for future use.

I listen to your
flamboyant giety
both mocking and
relishing the life
you call your own.
Sizzling in the excitement
of the moment.

You are . . .
a treasured gift
never allowed to bloom
until playing dress-up
was no longer a game
. . . you are
part of me.
Rarely acknowledged,
always sought.

 

Night Child

Child of the night
with your petals
curled up tight
in restive contemplation
of another night

Unfurl your spangled
banner of reds and golds
to fly with careless abandon
in dusky deep moonlight
casting aside shadows
lulling discontent to a
peaceful slumber

Nay, night need not be
a somber time
of reflection –
rejuvenate the pagan
spirits of long ago
dance their unearthly tunes
in sensual abandon

Refuse to wimper
when the sun lays
his head to rest.
Rather rejoice in
cascading glows
of feminine splendor
in the land of shadows.

Emptiness

The halls are empty,
rooms swirl with draft
not a soul in sight
save for the lonely body
of one who progressively
falls deeper and deeper still
in the well of silence

How did such a person
raise children who
are so very verbal
easily able to communicate
to share and receive

Is that it?
The fear to receive
words meant to hurt
cause cowering
rather than speaking
out for yourself
and being part
of the world

Better to hide
in drafty rooms
with books for friends
a cat for companion
safe but alone
drowning in emptiness

Party Plans

She said “Get out there and mingle”.  What a laugh.  I mingle with the food.  The people, well now that’s a different story.  In the midst of all these smiling people, I stand.  Gazing off into nowhere I shift positions but feel the earth’s muck holding my feet fast in the grassy way of the yard.  People give welcoming smiles but I can’t respond.  I hold myself fast.  I nod, smile, and walk on.

Finally, the food comes.  This I can do only too well.  I grab a seat and listen to others talk, occasionally  offering a verbal tidbit.  I try, really I do.  But I am so very uncomfortable among people.  They seem to have so little in common with me, although I realize if I gave them a chance, there are those who would be interesting and I would have something in common with.  Finding them in the cacophony of voices is quite more than I can manage.  I have been alone too long.

So I stay the requisite hour and a half and give my goodbye to the hostess.  She worked so hard preparing house, food and yard for this.  I spent three hours the day before to help prepare.  But I have fulfilled my obligatory time and hasten to the car, driving directly home where my cat and I have quiet for the rest of the evening.