As salt brings out the amazing flavors of food, I believe tears bring out the vibrant colors of life. Yep, annus horribilis is the best way to describe 2014 so far. Whine, whine, whine, we all have tough times, suffice to say losing a friend, a beloved pet, a 10 year career, plus a few bad breaks (pun intended for those in the know) make for some difficult times. Mix in the excruciating job of watching your parents suffer and deteriorate before your eyes with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s while helping them navigate the roads no one wants to travel. Well, excruciating doesn’t really cover it, but I don’t have any other word to describe it.
I have two fellow warriors by my side on this journey. The first is my sister. Ah, sisters, what a complicated relationship that can be. Due to birth order, sibling rivalries, distinctly different personalities and long held grudges, my sister and I were never close. We were satellites on the same orbit, loving our parents and each other’s children fiercely, but never connecting and becoming friends. The relationship has changed over the last few years as we have worked together to solve sometimes insurmountable situations, shared super human levels of stress, gotten to know each other better and have seen each other’s true compassion and humanity.
My other fellow warrior is my husband of 28 years; steadfast, unflappable and a son to my parents by choice, not blood.
So due to odd events, emergency evacuations and general family upheaval, we three warriors found ourselves outside of my parents’ house, needing to get in, with no one having the forethought to bring a key. Harkening back to my slightly delinquent teenage years, I knew precisely how to sneak out and sneak in my childhood home. A screen was removed, a window jiggled and unhinged. I looked at my husband, still slightly out of commission from an unfortunate encounter with a Christmas ham, and my sister, approximately the size and strength of a gnat, so muscly old me was nominated. I pulled myself on the sill, legs dragging below, and pondered my next move. I somehow got my legs up to toad position, balancing precariously. I needed to push my legs through the opening, and ended up like a clam, arms and legs inside, with my not insignificant posterior filling the window frame. Now any good sister would do the obvious, and draw out her camera for a quick picture for, well, posterity. Only a great sister promises to photoshop the butt down to a more aesthetically pleasing size before posting on facebook!
We three warriors wear full armour made mostly of dark humor. We try valiantly not to cry, but sometimes those pesky drops sneak around even the most tightly squeezed lids. A few nights ago I was talking to my darling mother-in-law, who is always supportive, understanding, and throwing prayers every which way for anyone in need. Her gentle love unexpectedly knocked me, and I had to hand the phone to Hubs as my tears undammed. He finished the conversation, stood gently behind me and rubbed my shoulders soothingly in that way that always makes me melt. He then leaned down and quietly said “Buck up, you big (insert synonym for kitty cat here)!” God, how I love that man!