Archives for category: Mother and Daughter

auroraboreal12

One of the fondest memories I have of growing up was a time when my mother awakened me in the middle of the night with a gentle shaking. I rubbed my bleary eyes, sat up, and saw her place a finger to her lips.

“Get up, Lamby,” she whispered, “We’re going to get our coats on. I have something to show you.”

At 8 years old, I was enthralled by the idea of an adventure, tiptoeing in the dark, alone with my mother. We softly closed the front door and she led me down the driveway to the gravel road.

“Look…” she said.

I caught my breath, as the final traces of my last disappeared in wisps around our heads.

Aurora Borealis was dancing in its full, magnificent splendour in the sky above the farm across the road.

Mom and I held one another in silent rapture, as I shivered in the dark.  Streams of brilliant magenta, then azure, then green, then orange, then red, then yellow, and all through the spectrum again, shot, each in turn. Each one twisted and spun in a silent, unique dance. Each dance more unexpected and breathtaking than the last.

The sky was singing. The sky was dancing. And I stood, in the middle of the night, on this gravel road, safe in my mother’s arms. I felt certain that this was a spectacle meant only for us. I knew that a special secret had been shared with me and that a window to the magic of the Earth had been opened to us, and us alone.

I don’t know exactly how long we stood, or when we headed back inside. I do know that I never forgot that quiet moment, together in the magic of the Northern Lights. As a mother, I only hoped that one day, I might have the chance to share a similar moment with my own daughter.

Two nights ago, the Earth gave me that gift.  We had been out walking Charlotte and as we rounded the last bend toward home, I glanced up to see streams of light streaking the northeastern sky.  I gestured to them and asked our daughter, “Look up, Dolly.  What’s that?”  She had heard the story of my childhood adventure, and had also been waiting for this moment.  She began shrieking with happiness and skipping around on the road, calling, “Northern lights!  Northern lights!’

We didn’t have the quiet moment witnessing the brilliant colour that my mother and I had shared, but I was so grateful that I had been there to revel in my daughter’s first experience with one of nature’s greatest spectacles.  Later that night, as I tucked her into bed, she quietly told me that she somehow felt different; as though a secret had been shared with her.  As though, now, she understood something that she didn’t understand before.  I smiled in understanding.  As a child, I had been there.  I return to this place, each and every time I see them.  One day she will be there again, with her own child, sharing in the magic of the first sighting.

This is the magic of the Aurora Borealis.  The wonder and mystery imparted by our northern sky dancers.

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Recently, my aging mother received a telephone bill that was significantly higher than it has been in several years and so she, being her feisty self, promptly called the Phone Company and complained.  At the end of her negotiations, she wound up with four calling features, and a bill ten dollars a month less than before.  Yay mom!

At the same time that my mom negotiated this new plan on her phone, she also purchased a new set of cordless phones.  This is where I enter the picture.  Mom was completely unable to set up the new phones because her fingers “wouldn’t work” to plug in the chargers, nor could she transfer the numbers from her old phones into her new ones.  I tried to explain to her that the process to add numbers to a phonebook from Caller ID was pretty seamless, but she asked me to come over and help.

When I arrived, I remarked to her that I was glad she now had Call Answer (which, after years of busy signals we had all been begging her to get) and she asked me why I would think she had Call Answer.  I told her that I had left her a message on her new Call Answer but she insisted she didn’t even know she had it and certainly hadn’t set it up yet.

Hmmm…I thought.  That’s odd.  I was sure I had heard a new message and that the phone had picked up on only one ring.  Maybe not.

So I asked her what features she did have on her phone and she told me she wasn’t sure.  We decided to call the Phone Company and find out.  Sure enough, Call Answer was one of her new features and I asked the gentleman to tell me how to set it up for her.

We hung up and, armed with her temporary passcode, I attempted to set up her Call Answer.

“I’m sorry but you have entered an incorrect password,” the computer said.

I tried again.

“The password you are trying to enter is incorrect,” the computer told me again.

I whispered to mom, “Are you positive you haven’t set up your call answer because I think I remem…”

“NO! I told you I haven’t!  I haven’t TOUCHED it!”  Mom was now getting cross.

“Okay…it’s just that your temporary password, which is your phone number, isn’t working, so I thought maybe you might have changed it to your usual password.”

“I haven’t changed ANYTHING!” Mom insisted.

I tried again, without any luck, and so I decided to call back to the Phone Company to tell them something was wrong.

The gentleman put me on hold to investigate the problem and, once again, I repeated to my mom that I thought I remembered leaving her a message.  I told her that her voice recording had been different, but that, since then, her recording was back to her old answering machine.

My mom was now very exasperated with me and said, “I’m TELLING YOU I HAVEN’T SET UP ANYTHING!  I haven’t changed any passwords!  I haven’t done ANYTHING….The ONLY thing was something that they had that was THEIR voice saying… SOMETHING… and I didn’t want THEIR voice so I did my OWN voice but that is the ONLY thing… and other than that I HAVEN’T changed my password and I haven’t set up ANYTHING.”

AHA!  Crystal clear.  Clear as mud.  Finally.

The man then came back on the phone and I politely informed him that I was pretty sure I knew what had happened, I was sorry, and I would call him back only if I needed to.

I hung up the phone, accessed Call Answer and typed in my mom’s favourite password.  Then I pressed speaker.

The voice ringing through the kitchen said, “You have thirteen messages.”

BINGO.

Mom had watched me type in her code and her jaw dropped.  Then she burst into tears.

Explanation?  Mom set up Call Answer and forgot.  Then she had left her answering machine on, so it was beating Call Answer to the punch when she wasn’t home.  And Call Answer was taking messages whenever she was on the phone.  Apparently people had been telling her for a couple of weeks that they were leaving her messages but she wasn’t getting them.  Now we knew why.

We held one another for several minutes and cried…

This getting older stuff sure isn’t for babies.

Over the last couple of years I have been plagued with daily headaches.  I have tried nearly everything to remedy them, from medication and diet, to massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatments, with no success.  It’s been a slippery slope of generalized exhaustion and pain, resulting in weight gain and emotional depletion.  In the pursuit of a more centred me, I have recently made a concerted effort to return to the yoga mat to achieve a little zen.

My first effort was a class at a local hot yoga studio.  Previous classes had taught me a lesson; 90 minutes of intense yoga poses in 105* heat necessitates  hydration.  My last hot yoga class, over three years ago, had resulted in a middle of the night awakening with a migraine that wouldn’t abate for over 48 hours.  The last thing I needed was a repeat of that experience, so I made sure that I hydrated throughout the day prior to the class.  I felt ready.  I was going to find my spiritual centre and reacquaint myself with the athletic me, even if it was hiding beneath 35 pounds of lethargy.

I arrived early and found a place at the back of the class and placed my water and towel near the wall.  I laid down on my mat in savasana and began to ready myself for the upcoming class.  My years of yoga practise returned to me like an old friend;  I easily found the quiet place within me.

Hey, I was thinking, I can do this. 

A few minutes later I heard a shuffling noise beside me and cracked open my left eye.

Hmmmm… I mused (my zen rapidly retreating), apparently Barbie does hot yoga too.

She was stretched out beside me, wearing a pink neon Lululemon tube top and what appeared to be boy short bikini bottoms.  Her hair was gleaming and her make-up flawless.  I glanced down sheepishly at my yoga capris, barely restraining my buddha belly and tee-shirt.

Evidently I missed the memo.  

I began imagining stretching a clothesline from one of her bony hips across to the other and then hanging tiny little Barbie clothes with itsy bitsy Barbie clothespins.

What was wrong with me???

I tried to return to my quiet place and ignore the smell of coconut body balm wafting over toward me from Barbie er, the young woman lying beside me.

Why did SHE have to choose to lay down beside ME? 

Oh man…I was unravelling, and the class hadn’t even started.

OK.  Enough of that now.  I had to  regain control.  Close your eyes and find your happy place. 

Focus. 

…oh no… didn’t the instructor say,, “Don’t focus”?

Crap! 

Many people flooded the room and I was relieved to see all shapes, sizes and ages emerging through the door.  A very large man settled his things on my other side, and the class began.  The intensity of exercising in 105* is really something to experience and, very quickly, we all began to sweat.  I should note that some of us perspire…and some of us sweat.   The difference being, of course, that sweat really stinks.

I was determined to stay in my happy place and attempted to ignore the  intense odour emitting from the large man beside me.  As we transitioned into warrior pose, he extended his arms in my direction, and launched streams of sweat off his fingertips, spraying me in the face and body.

SPLAT!

I was so disgusted that I froze, doing the only thing I could think of.  I shook his sweat off, mopped my face with my towel, and resumed the pose.  But who was I kidding?  I knew then and there that it was over.  My quest for zen was a flop.  I was trapped, sandwiched between Miss America and Mr. Rotting Onion.

My life seems to be like that these days; a series of bungles and missteps.  Most of the time I still manage to laugh at them, so I must be ahead of the game.  I feel that my experience in the yoga class was truly a metaphor for my course my life has taken.

I recently read a book about a woman who lost her memory and awoke thinking that she was ten years younger.  I felt acutely akin to the character and all she went through.  I realize that 20 something men are not looking my way as I pass, like they did when I was in my thirties.  I’m not at the gym 6 days a week anymore, and you certainly couldn’t bounce a quarter off of my rear end.  I should be clear that this is not my mission in life and that, no,  I do not feel defined by the attention of post-pubescent males…but it’s a change indeed.  Many days I find myself wondering, Where did I go?

At the end of the novel, there were some questions offered for reflection.  One question asked what my 10-year-younger-self would think of the present day me.  In truth, I think that the 30-something me would be absolutely stunned and probably a little disappointed.   I feel that I woke up one day and found myself in the 40-somethings, wondering where my 30s went, and my youth and beauty with them.

I know, where they went, without a doubt.  They went with my priorities changing from a focus on myself to a focus on my child.  It began with motherhood, which has been an all-consuming experience for me.  My daughter is my everything, my world, my miraculous, shining star.  She is an incredible person that I feel so blessed to have the honour of mothering.  So my 30-something-self really has absolutely no clue.

However, somewhere along the way, I vanished and that isn’t healthy either.

Life is all about balance…on and off the mat.

This morning I had it all together.  Thanks to lots of help from my husband, our daughter was dressed and brushed and had eaten her breakfast well before it was time to leave.  Her lunch was packed and I knew that my day at school was impeccably prepared;  I didn’t need to arrive early to finish any last minute details.  I indulged in a longer-than-normal shower and was just taking my time getting dressed when the phone rang.

My mom was crying on the other end of the phone.  She told me that she really didn’t feel well at all and she was going to call 911.  My switched flipped from easy-breezy-morning (insert birds chirping) to frantic gotta-call-a-supply-gotta-get-daughter-to-school-gotta-get-over-to-mom’s-to-meet-the-ambulance-ohmygosh-is-mom-having-a-stroke-gotta-get-to-the-hospital.

It was zero to sixty in one second flat.  The Mustang Cobra has nothing on me.

I drove my daughter to school and then headed over to my mom’s house.  When I arrived there, the ambulance had left for the hospital, so I turned around and raced to meet them there.  I arrived at the Emergency department and she was hooked up to a machine measuring her blood oxygen, heart rate, and respirations, as well as an ECG.

My mom told me how grateful she was that I had come and then she asked me what day it was.  I told her it was Wednesday.  After about ten minutes, all of the hospital staff had cleared the room and my mom began talking about all she had planned for the day and all the things that needed cancelling.

She told me that she had started to worry about her health the night before when she needed to go to her daytimer over and over again, yet still couldn’t remember when her appointments were.

She then asked, “What day is it today?”

“Hmmm…” I thought.  Then I answered,  “It’s Wednesday, Mom.”

We carried on chatting for a little while when she told me again that her book club was supposed to come to her place that day.  Then she paused and asked, “What day is it today, honey?”

(Yup.  Now I’m worried.)  “It’s Wednesday…What’s the month, Mom?”

“Oh…gosh…I’m not sure,” she answered.  “Give me a second and I’ll figure it out….September?  October?  I know it’s fall.”

(Now I’m really worried.)  I continued gently, “How old are you?”

“Come on now!” she replied “That’s not fair!  I’m not feeling well.  I don’t know!  Give me a second…I was born in 1937, so….”

I waited for about ten seconds and then asked, “How old am I, Mom?”

“Oh geez…uh…now you’ve got me there.”

“Do you know where you are?”

To this she snorted indignantly and answered accurately.  She knew the name of the hospital and our city.  She knew the year I was born, the year she was born, her wedding anniversary, the names of the women in her book club, and many other obscure details about innumerable things.

She had no idea, however, of my age, her age, the month or the year.  She didn’t know my daughter’s age, or her birthdate.  Two days ago this was all rote information.  What was going on?

The only other symptom she had was slightly elevated blood pressure, nausea and a burning sensation throughout her torso, following the nausea.

The doctor ruled out a heart attack and a stroke and, although the nurse said my mom was showing signs of one, he said he felt the term TIA was “over used.”  He said that he saw no concerns with memory, which is truly beyond me.  My mom is a sharp cookie and these details are facts she usually knows like the back of her own hand.

It was a long day of sitting and tests and we were almost on the home stretch, but would not quite be finished in time for me to pick up my daughter from school.  So, I left my mom at the hospital and headed down to the school.  After I picked up my daughter, I headed back up to the hospital and got my mom, who was now all finished.  Next, I headed back down to the south end of the city to take my mom home.  She was still feeling really sick to her stomach, but aside from some factual gaps, she was functioning perfectly.   We arrived at her place and I did some chores for her.  I made her tea and toast, and then I headed back up to our home to get our daughter’s music books and to take her on to piano lessons.

I felt like a ping pong ball on a 10 km long table.

North, South, North, South, North, South….

I am the cheese in the sandwich generation.  I have decided that maybe I am like the Havarti with tiny flakes of hot pepper in it.   I am a combination of spicy and mild, and at the moment I feel like I am riddled with tiny holes.  Today I did an awesome job juggling both mommy and daughter roles.  That makes me flexible like mozzarella.  So, maybe I’m both.

Nevertheless, I’m still smiling.  So, say cheese!

And goodnight….zzzzzz.