Forced bed rest and extended periods of inactivity due to spinal surgery leave one with time to think, sometimes on topics that are best left unrecorded. However, I'm improving each day and I am moved tonight to write about specific and intentional acts of kindness – and the power of such deliberate experiences. This wasn’t my first rodeo, as they say, having had both knees replaced in the past four years, so I knew to expect pain and immobility for a time. I simply had no idea of how limited I would be, how absolutely unable to care for myself, and how, when the pain is greatest, nothing seems as important as relieving it. Ah yes, better living through chemistry! I am having a lucid moment and it won’t last long, so before I descend into my happy place, I want to say a heartfelt and resounding thank you to the family and friends who have extended, and continue to extend, such kindness and selfless assistance over the past few weeks.
My daughter Laura and her daughter Katie (a mom-to-be!) took over my house, my kitchen and my need to run the world and gave me the gift of nothing to plan, organize or execute. Best of all, they made sure that Tom was taken care of and a routine maintained as close to normal as possible. And, while shopping and cooking delicious meals, they threw in foot massages, back rubs and long talks that made us laugh and cry with equal warmth. As I said goodbye to Laura on Saturday, I whispered into her ear that this had been such a gift to me. Her response was “Mom, the gift was you asking me to come help you!” Now, son David is here, cooking more fine food and fixing the many things, electrical and other, long neglected, hanging pictures, etc. etc. etc! (I recall my first knee surgery and how son Scott came to help me, often anticipating things I needed before I even knew it myself!) And I’m getting used to being waited on...if it just weren’t for the pain in the neck (literally) this might be classified as fun! Still, time with my kids is so precious and I’m soaking it up with all the love it involves. They all lead such busy lives and yet, when possible, they are here when I need them. And it has offered me a chance to ask for and receive the help that I have rarely experienced with such generosity. Maybe some day I can find the grace to ask without having to go under the knife!
This year’s Oscars I found disappointing, bland and better watched, as I did, while on pain medication. But one thing, one brief flash across the screen stuck in my mind. It was the tribute to Lena Horne and the quote attributed to her: "It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." That was what I took away from the 3.5 hours of minor entertainment. Maybe worth the whole evening!