Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Birthday Party And A Meltdown

Yesterday afternoon, my daughter Jamie had a party for her daughter's birthday. My youngest granddaughter, Kayla, turned 5 on the 3rd of January and this was the first opportunity, between Christmas break at school and all the holiday activity, to plan a party and get out invitations to all the children. Kayla chose to have a party at the local bowling alley and it was a hoot. So if the party was so great and the kids had so much fun then what caused a meltdown and who melted?

The explanation will follow - the meltdown happened to me!

I have to start by explaining for those who don't know my family, that Kayla's older sister, Anna, was born with multiple devastating disabilities. I'll leave the very involved explanations of the possible / probable cause of Anna's condition for a later post. Being as she is now 12 years old, it is something I've discussed so many times that I don't often feel a need to do so anymore. Anna is who she is and we love her tremendously. I do want to say here that Anna and Kayla are two of five beautiful granddaughters that I have, all of whom are of course extraordinary in their own right! I will also leave discussion of daughter Dee's girls, Erin, Emily and Sarah Grace for a later time. Suffice to say, you are in for a treat there as well!

I probably also need to explain that I have been at Jamie's home in Florida, since the 22nd of December. My original plans were to be here for Christmas and to stay to help with a surgery Anna was to have in what we thought would be early January. It was a fine and wonderful plan but the surgery didn't get scheduled until the 25th which means I'm staying just a tad bit longer than expected. Add to that the fact that I brought with me a cat, Mr. Woody K. Nibs (another story for a future post), and my dog Ginger. Thanks to my son, John, Ginger is safely back home in Louisiana, staying with him until I return. It makes life here with Jamie and her two girls, their dog Winston and a gaggle host uhhmm, well just a lot of great nurses who help make caring for Anna a little easier... thanks again John!

Meantime, back to the bowling party and the meltdown.

If you've never watched a group of young children, most of whom are barely 5 years old, bowl, it is hilarious. They are so serious and in the case of my granddaughter Kayla, quite expressive in their reaction, as seen in the photo coming off the alley pumping her fist in the air.

I watched, I laughed, I helped. I helped with the food and the cake followed by the opening of presents which was accompanied by lots of squeals and giggles, corralling of kids and assuring them that their gift would be opened next!

When all the festivity was over and done, Kayla passed out bowling bucks and the party kids headed for the arcade. Several adults helped clean the mess and I started breathing a sigh of relief when I looked over and saw Anna sitting in her wheelchair, looking very uncomfortable. Anna's spine is deformed and her chair is supposed to be adjusted for comfort but it seems right now to be one of the most uncomfortable places she can sit. I decided to take her out and just sit with her on my lap for a while. I wanted to be close to her and wanted her to be more a part of what was going on.

Almost from the moment I had her out of her chair and on my lap in an extremely unyielding, uncomfortable bowling alley chair, the water began forming behind my eyes. I seldom cry for Anna these days, not because her situation is less sad or any easier to deal with, but simply that I've come to terms with it. I came to terms with it very early on, as did her entire family. She has been fully accepted and completely loved from day one of learning about her condition. I think I might have been fine at this point, if my daughter hadn't come up and realized that I had tears in my eyes and openly asked me what was wrong. I think I could have kept it to a minimum but that didn't happen... the dam burst open and the contents of the salty seas of Mimi (that's what my granddaughters call me) were unleashed. I don't think I was truly sobbing but everyone was aware that I was crying and I wished I could stop and yet I couldn't. I am not ashamed of the tears, but would hope that everyone who saw me crying would understand that I don't regard Anna as needing to be cried over or pitied. I can't tell you an exact reason why I 'lost' it, other than maybe just wanting her to be able to experience what the other children were doing or just one time be able to get up out of that damn chair, to walk, to run, to sit up on her own, to speak, to bowl with the other kids, to hear her tell her mother that she loves her, and very selfishly I will add here that I wish she could tell me that she loves me too.

You know, now that I think about it, I think she was telling me she loved me and maybe that is why I was crying... maybe it was the way she snuggled against my chest, maybe it was the warmth of her body next to mine, maybe it was the smiles and her soft sighs that were all saying how much she loves me and maybe, just maybe, that's why I melted.

I love you too Anna!

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