Tag Archives: sickness

(I’ll be loving you) Always

My grandfather, who I affectionately refer to as “Deda,” passed away just about a month ago.  As I’ve already mentioned, Mom and I have been staying with Grandma.  Today would have been their 65th Wedding Anniversary.

The song in the title has been swimming in my head for almost two months.  You see, it’s their song.  My connection with music has always been one I’ve shared with my grandparents, who taught me to dance the foxtrot at age 10 (they tried to teach me the lindy and others, but I didn’t take as well to those unfortunately).  A few years ago, I’d dressed up ’40s style and came to sing to them on their Anniversary.  And of course, I sang “Always.”  (This site has a nice explanation and lyrics of the song.)

I spend a lot of time now remembering; but I know the biggest and most important lesson I’ll learn was the last one they taught me together, summed up in that old familiar song…

It was the lesson I learned when my 92-year-old grandfather, the night before he was rushed to the emergency room, had to take the extra steps– walker in hand and aide behind– to kiss my grandmother goodnight, because he couldn’t let her go to sleep without kissing her.  As he walked into the bedroom, he told us– my mother, the aide and I– that she was his life.

It was the lesson I learned when, on a respirator, unable to speak, he mouthed “I love you” to my Grandma.

It was the lesson I learned when my Grandma, who’s been very sick herself for about a year, forces herself to get dressed and out of the house every day for two weeks straight, and still after, several times a week, to visit Deda in ICU: An old woman, sitting in a wheelchair, near the bedside of an old man, on a respirator, on a feeding tube, IVs scattered about: holding hands.

And even though it was difficult, she’d force herself to stand almost every night, just to look into his eyes, touch his face, brush his hair back with her hand, maybe kiss his shoulder.

For a single 25-year-old, I don’t think there could be a stronger image of what it means to be there for someone “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.”  And I sat there for days and stared at the epitome of “in sickness” and “for worse.”

But my grandparents meant those vows when they said them.  And they meant them every time they danced them as well. “Not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but Always.*”

Happy Anniversary, Grandma and Deda, even though this year you’re spending it apart.  And Thank You, for every moment, lesson, and story- big or small.

[The picture is my grandparents’ engagement photo– one of my very favorites of them.]

*Irving Berlin, Always, 1925

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Quieting the Critics

This blog is inspired by a recent event or two and also some of my blog-reading lately which led me to The Re-Picturing Women Project .

While my title echoes her 6/1 post, my ideas really match more with her most recent (6/16) post.  While I’m trying to focus my blog on creativity, I feel that often I wind up talking about my life.  I’ve stopped thinking this is incongruent.  I tend to take a creative approach to things, so maybe I’m blogging from example.  My best hope would be to create a forum for discussion here, lead people to other great blogs, and help people maybe see their world a little differently.  That said, part of being creative is being able to quiet the critics and live without fear.  This is not about me quieting an inner critic to my art– but to my person.  However, I think the process is much the same.  Also, for me, the critics take very similar shape.

I find that when certain things happen, old voices creep up and cause me to be afraid.  I think I’ve mentioned before here that my mother and I were sick and had to miss going upstate for my cousin’s fiance’s bridal shower.  This caused a great deal of anxiety for me.  While I was truly sick– and miserable not to go, old fears crept in.

In my junior year of high school, I got very sick.  Around October, I came down with a virus that mimicked chronic fatigue syndrome.  Already having an autoimmune disorder, my body didn’t bounce back easily.  By January, I was so exhausted, I was taking half days at school– I’d take the bus in the morning and my mom would pick me up at lunchtime.  Then the next day she’d drop me at lunchtime and I’d take the bus home– so as if not to miss the same classes two days in a row.  I kept up on all my work, including getting a math tutor as I was having trouble making up the precal work (essentially teaching it to myself).  I eventually went back to school more full-time, but continued to miss days here and there, though the worst was certainly over.

By Springtime, one of my teachers remarked, at my honors society induction, that I looked so good because I had lost so much weight.  She seemed to want to know what I’d done.  Perhaps she’d not noticed that I’d been ill for months… Or perhaps it was the fact that she did not believe that I’d been ill for months.

The rumor going around school was that I was cutting, apparently.  While some of my teachers were sympathetic, many were not.  My parents received a letter that– despite my straight A average– I could be left back due to absences.  After a long discussion with my mother, who put up quite a fight, including calling the public school system (I was in private school at this time) and even the state department of education, it was decided that I would move along to 12th grade just fine.  But not without comments, being given no help or compassion, and being expected to make up my work quickly.  I also, despite having the second highest average in my grade, received no awards at the end of the year assembly.  I was later told by a kind teacher that I “shouldn’t feel bad” because, essentially, the teachers were told to disregard my GPA as I would not be allowed to receive any awards at the assembly.

I was given a hard time every step of the way.  Few believed I was actually sick, aside from my closest friends and perhaps 2 teachers.  The rumor was that I was cutting and, not only that, was cutting to do schoolwork! Apparently, this was my sick attempt to put extra work in and get better grades.  The rumor was badly flawed– although I did keep my A average, this would have been a heck of a lot easier to do while having the benefit of going to class and being taught.

Meanwhile, I was so sick I was having trouble walking.  I’d come home with my lunch half eaten because I was too tired to chew.  I lost weight.  I would nap during the occasional study hall or lunch if I could– especially when I was too tired to eat.  I was so tired that by the time I got home, I could barely focus to work- let alone do make up work.  There were a few occasions I remember my mom reading to me out of my english textbook so I could complete an assignment because I couldn’t focus on the words on the page.  Prom night, three of my best friends slept over.  I woke up in the middle of the night having difficulty breathing and with a rash.  My class had been told that if anyone did not come to school the day after prom (which wound up on a Wednesday), they would be suspended.  My mom literally drove me to school, went to the office, explained the situation and called my doctor to make an appointment in front of the principal.  We then brought the dr’s note back.  I had a virus, a bacterial infection, and a rash.  All at once.

I have never been sicker in my life.  And hardly anyone believed me.  I missed friend’s birthday parties, weeks of church, days and days of school, family events.  Even my extended family often doubted the severity of how sick I was.

So now, when I am sick and need to miss something– whether it’s an outing with friends or a shift at work– I get very nervous because I always assume that people do not believe me and assume I’m faking.  It’s paranoid, perhaps.  But this thought has never left me.  It’s something I hope to work on, though.  I need freedom from this.  It’s time to quiet this voice in my head– a voice which still has a face (despite how many people caused this problem, there is one face that seems to speak louder than them all.  This is also, interestingly enough, the voice of most of my creative blockings as well).

What do you need to say goodbye to?  Is there a memory, inner voice, or even person currently in your life who’s holding back your creativity– or even your very spirit?  Personally, I’m going to be doing some soul-searching and praying to get over this block.  All the best to you who may be doing the same!

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