Wednesday, April 9, 2008


I don't write much about anything other than rooster, and that strikes me as strange.

I guess I should start by saying that my ability to write about the rooster at all surprises me, as well -- a lifelong dabbler at writing, I've never felt comfortable writing anything like first person, memoirish stuff. (As a journalism major, every time I ended up having to write the house editorial for my college paper, I tried to get out of it. I could write 3 play reviews, a news article, and a profile in the time it took me to scratch out a short editorial.) It's this strange new contradiction of an almost out-of-body variety that allows me to do this right now -- I feel constantly on the brink of embarrassment and shame as I write posts for this blog, but at the same time, my fingers usually seem to write faster than I even know what they are up to, and when I realize that I've clicked "Publish Post," I always feel shocked, but better that I did before I started writing.

But I'm often surprised but what I've written, as well as what I haven't written, and when I read my own stuff I find myself wondering why don't I write more about the other things going on in our family. Sure, I know this my Rooster blog, but we're all interconnected; even as I wrote about the others it would still relate to the rooster.

So: I idolize my grandma. She is sick.

See? Was the above a work of impressive blogging? This one is not writing itself. I'm facing long pauses here -- my fingers are not flying. I'm forcing this blog out. I had to slave for seven words, two simple sentences. But I have decided that maybe if I can eke out something, maybe it will help me, the way it helps to blog about the rooster.

Okay, so I think what I'm trying to say, or trying not to say, or something, is that, for as long as I've been writing about my rooster's struggles, and my struggles with his struggles, my grandma has also been suffering with her own. I feel my concern for my grandma as acutely as I feel my concern for my child, but one gets a blog and one finds me nearly silent.

My grandparents are the heroes in my life, heroes who treated me like their own child, saved me from all manner of evil, and remained youthful well into their old age. My grandpa passed away a few years ago, and that was very hard, and then my grandma began to age, and that was very hard. But my grandma was still strong enough about four years ago to fly 3,000 miles to be with me when the rooster was born. She and my mom both came, were with me when I went into labor, stayed in the hospital during my 32 hours of labor. My grandma, 80ish, breast cancer survivor, diabetic, flesh-eating bacteria survivor, spent the entire night in the waiting room, then made it through an entire day of waiting, until at last she saw her great grandchild born, the first time she ever watched a birth like that. Then she and mom went out to the deli across the street and brought me back more food than I could ever imagine eating... so like my grandma to feed me well. She said what she has said so often in my life when I needed it, "I'm so proud of you I could bust."

But my grandma has been in and out of the hospital and a rehabilitation center for some heart problems and other ailments while I've been writing these blogs, and where am I? Not in the waiting room. And I feel terrible. I feel like I'm letting her down this time. Sometimes if feels like being pulled apart on a rack.

I might not have written much about her, but I have thought about my grandma every single day. I think about her, and I think about my mom and stepdad who take care of her, every single day. When I get really scared, I call my dear friend C who I've loved since fifth grade, now a doctor in our home town, and she talks me through it, and stops in to see my grandma in my stead, and helps her more than I ever could, and then calls me back or emails whatever reassurance she can. I call my mom at least once a day for the updates, and to offer my support. If my mom - or C - ever tells me, "Come now," I'm ready to go. But is that enough?

Sure, of course, I absolutely know that my grandma probably wants me here, taking care of Peaches and Rooster. I can hear her in my mind telling me that I'm needed here. I know there isn't a lot I can do to help my grandma right now. I know that she might even improve, and that there might be a better time coming for a visit, and time when we might be able to say I love you eye to eye. I know that my grandma knows that I love her very much, that I adore her. But I feel as though I'm failing her right now. And I feel like if I go to her, I'll be failing my husband and children.

Honestly, if my husband left me alone with the kids so he could travel, even for an important reason, I worry I'd end up needing to call 911. We haven't gotten far enough out of our rough patch, and we survive days by the skin of our teeth, nights by even less. So how do I go? And how do I not?

Let alone the toll of it. Travel to my hometown to see grandma 3,000 miles from here involves at least two flights, at least an hour layover, and at least a 70 mile drive across the state line an through rural back roads after that, totalling about 10 hours of travel time barring anything unforeseen. It doesn't lend itself well to children, certainly not MY children, so I can't imagine taking the with me for this kind of journey. The rooster gets so sick each time we travel that last time we went to see grandma he had blood trickling out of his eye by the time we made it all the way there, and we were lucky to know a doctor who could treat him asap, unlocking his practice at night to get us what we needed. (Of much less consequence, I have used all my work time off for family medical purposes, and I continue taking unpaid time off for a slew of appointments that leave my calendar looking bloodied with red highlights.)

Is this excuse making?

Is it even right to put all this out there, knowing someone will reasure me? Please, no one reassure me. Please don't.

Grandma, I am coming soon. I just don't know exactly when, but I love you, and I'm so sorry I'm not there yet. My heart is. It's in two places at once, but it's still full of love.


Joeymom said...

Two thoughts, neither of them reassurance:

One, when I was in college, I took a really great poetry class with Andrew Salkey. At the end of the class, he took me aside and said: "You write beautifully, you have a real grasp of language and sound. But you have nothing to say." One thing about a blog: you start it because you have something to say, you found something to say. Some situations are like that. And some leave you speechless.

Two, about the Rooster getting sick: that may be a solvable sensory issue. I know Joey used to get super-sick, tossing cookies everywhere at the drop of a hat. We had learned to just pull over every forty minutes and let him get out of the car, or face a mess. We could even predict how long we had based on the shade of green he was turning. We started sensory integration therapy (an occupational therapy thing), and it resolved in about three months. Or four. I'm not so good at that time-keeping thing. It was dramatically quick.

***HUGS*** to you and to you Grandma. We'll be thinking of you and her here.

Anonymous said...

I think I understand a bit how you must feel. I've lived far from home for 20 years--and when someone I love has been sick or hospitalized, that's when I've felt that unbelievable pull, that need to be there but the practical inability to go.

I hope your grandmother is better soon and that you have the chance to sit by her side once again.

gretchen said...

That really sucks- no way around it. Of course she understands all the good reasons you aren't able to be there, but it would be so comforting for both of you if you could be.

redheadmomma said...

Reassure you about what? *wink*

I did want to say that I traveled a very same route - 3,000 miles, two planes, layover, and an hour drive - to see my best friend and her new baby in '06. I'd have only done it for her, and I was worried sick about my own kids, and about my husband especially to deal with it all! I had a TON of guilt on that trip, and still am not sure I should have made the trip. But your situation I think has more importance than what I did, because your grandma has the likelihood of being on the earth for a shorter time than my best friend and her new baby. That's what makes me nuts, is thinking, what's my window of opportunity here?

What I did to help him here was to line up babysitting once or twice to give him a break and just get out. And I left late at night on a redeye, and left at 6am (3am on the west coast) so I could get to Seattle at 11am, to basically be there that day when I arrived back in town.

Here's a thought: have you thought about just taking peaches so you can divide & conquer? I want to see my grandpa for his 90th birthday in October, and I'm considering taking one of the kids with me. It will make it harder for me, but will make it easier on my husband.

Niksmom said...

No reassurances here, either. Just compassioante understanding. I was away from home when each of my grandparents died and I always wished for just one more chance to tell them how much I loved them and how much they touched my life.