Ready for some crazy?
1 pair of socks
9 sets of boot cuffs
1 hair band
1 pr of shorts
5 cowls, collars, shawls
I think it's because I've been walking beside my best friends at the end of their lives. That's as clearly as I can say it. I don't want to give the impression I am an official "caregiver" because my grandparents aren't in need of nursing care yet. He has dementia and she is very weak, struggling to get around. They are almost homebound now, so I get groceries, prepare some meals, drive them, and pay bills. Only, it's really more than that.
I am a presence. I am the only one they see many days. I am there to help and remember and to witness their troubles. That's why I need to be a presence of hope. It's a real stretch for me because I was hurting with them. I see that many of their choices these days are between two equally unpleasant things. There is unavoidable heartache down every road and I 'm not naturally a "glass half-full" kind of girl. But as I see life through their eyes, I want to be because they have always been that for me.
The need for another person present makes me think of when I was a new mother. My baby girl suffered from undiagnosed food allergy and cried all of the time. I didn't know why, but I knew it was more than colic and questioned my abilities as a mother. I also felt a little afraid to be alone with her. I realized I wasn't breathing easy until my husband came home each evening. He was a first time parent too, but it was an uncertain, new experience and I didn't want to go through it alone. I think that is how it is for my grandparents. They just need another person there sometimes.
Please understand, they are secure in their faith. The larger questions like, "Do I know God?" and "Where will I go when I die?" are answered for them. It is the day to day thoughts like, "Will I be able to get up today?" and "How much worse will this get before the end?" that raise her anxiety level. She is just feeling the way, for both of them, through a dark place she has never been before. For him it is the constant self-doubt of wondering where he is, what she just said, and where this or that bruise came from.
Being on the inside of their struggles has felt heavy, though, like the weight of that baby shuddering against me as I walked up and down the room. It was different than the feeling of walking before I had a child. It was heavier, but with a weight that meant something wonderful. I loved that weight. It didn't feel burdensome because it was part of me. Once I knew her, I needed her and it was a privilege to carry her. Knowing the pain of someone you love is not easy, but do you really want to be anywhere else than beside them, holding them?
My heart has just been too full to risk opening up with anyone, especially a blog, unless I knew I had the strength to close the door before too much flowed out. It seemed best to just save it for my prayers and keep busy.
So I kept busy. After taking care of lunch for Grandmommy and Papaw, I'd come home, eat and knit for a while before getting my son from school. Then, when the house was quiet, at night, I'd have to knit some more. Like most of my crafty friends I'm antsy without something in my hands. I find it occupies and quietens part of my brain so I can look like a normal person, even on a good day. So you can imagine the intensity with which I worked away at sweater after sweater this year, my hands flying to release the pressure building within. When my heart ached I could pray, but if I'd said all I could and was just waiting for wisdom, I'd knit some more. All of my frustrations seemed to be exorcised through the acts of prayer, running, and knitting. They were actions that had a definite beginning and end. Like a road marker, I could look back to the start of a project and see that it had actually gone somewhere. Seeing progress, any kind, is so powerful when you're hurting.
So, I knit and I didn't talk about things. Even now, I'm not going to bother with editing this because there is no perfect way of talking about this. I'm just going to type the words and throw in some random photos I don't think I've shown. There's no way something like a blog post will do this justice, but I'll try because it is so much a part of me that I want to record something about it.
We were blessed to celebrate Christmas with them at their home again this year. The picture below is from a couple of years ago.