Wednesday, April 20, 2016

On elegant egrets and big clumsy oafs

Same park, four years ago

The juvenile great egrets stand on the nest calling out lunchlunchlunchlunch until an adult flies up with some take-out and quiets them down—briefly. A few quick swallows and they're begging again for lunchlunchlunchlunch, but this time a gangly chick perches on the edge of the nest, spreads its wings, and stretches out its pointy beak in a pose that would look fierce if the chick didn't so much resemble a fuzzy plush toy. 

I’ve come to this park a few minutes’ drive from my parents’ house to decompress from the stress of accompanying my mom to a long session of chemotherapy. All morning I’ve been listening to IV pumps beeping, patients vomiting, and frustrated people lashing out at the very people trying to help them, so it’s a real treat to sit in the park and listen as the egret chicks issue insistent demands and their parents glide gracefully to the nest.

I wish I could do that—gracefully glide in and provide instant relief. I feel like a big clumsy oaf, trying to lift my mom into a wheelchair or wipe her drippy nose or help her brush her hair. Her hair is fine and soft, still lively with curls. Brushing her hair is easy except when she can’t find the strength to sit up. When I brush my granddaughter’s hair, I have to remind her to sit still, but I’m happy if my mom will just sit up long enough to let me run the brush through. (And I'm happy that she still has hair. How long until it the chemo takes its inevitable toll?)

When it all gets to be too much, I get away—to look at the egrets at the park or visit an old friend at a coffee shop. We compare notes—Our parents! Our children! All the people who need something from us right now, something much more complicated than lunchlunchlunchlunch, so much more that we sometimes have trouble finding that fine line between helping and hurting.

But still I try, stumbling in gracelessly and doing what I can until I just can't, which is when I go to the egrets and allow them to feed my spirit. (If I opened my mouth wide and called lunchlunchlunchlunch, what would they bring me?)


Contingent Cassandra said...

Glad you have somewhere nearby to briefly escape, breathe, and regroup, as well as friends with whom to process. Nothing makes such a situation easy, but those are good things to have.

Bardiac said...

Bev, My thoughts are with you and your Mom.

This is beautifully written. Thank you for that.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad we could get together to compare notes. You are NOT a clumsy oaf. You are serving an important purpose. I saw how loving you are with your mom. Only God knows what the outcome will be...for know, just know you are being the very best of daughters and an incredible comfort to both your parents.

Anonymous said...

now, not know. Typing to fast gets me in trouble every time!

Anonymous said...

There I go again...too not to. I'm done!

Bev said...

Thanks, everyone. There's nothing like a little crisis to help us see how much we need each other. Doing much better today!