Saturday, October 26, 2013

What Do You See?

There's a lot going on in my life right now. I'm in Indiana again, visiting the home where I grew up, wanting to be here in October one more time while the colors are so flashy and the air cool and crisp. Sweater weather!

Of course things never go the way we plan. The colors really haven't started changing yet, at least not to the extent that I wanted to see and experience. When I got here, the yards were still green and people still mowing in late October. Maybe it's global warming slowing down the seasons, delaying the inevitable cold which finally came the other morning along with a nice snowfall... an inch of the pure white stuff but it didn't last long and was gone by mid-day.

Then Mom had a spell with her heart later the same day. We ended up calling an ambulance to take her to the hospital where she spent the night and most of the next day making sure she wasn't having a heart attack or anything severe. Her blood work and EKGs were normal throughout her stay, indicating she was just suffering from angina, probably caused from stress or trying to do too much. Heart pain!

I think most of us know heart pain, I know I do, but not the physical kind Granny was having that day. My heart has hurt for emotional reasons, like missing my granddaughter Anna and others I've loved who have passed away or are gone from my life for different reasons. Most people suffer that kind of heart pain in their lives and I'm sure Granny has too. I know she has. I saw it etched on her face as she lay in the hospital bed, sleeping.

As I looked at those lines on her face, I knew that some might say she's just old and wrinkled, but that's not what I saw. I saw lines that told me how much she suffered when she lost her mother as a little girl, then her father just a year after that. I saw lines that show the worry and care she must have felt as she carried her own children and gave birth, praying she would be there to raise them and see them into adulthood, unlike her parents. I saw lines from the deep pain and grief she had to feel as she watched her young husband, the father of her first three small children as he slowly died of cancer, fearing that they were nearing her fate of being orphaned at an early age. There were more lines from the hurt and worry she felt as she watched her fourth child, her second daughter go through the agony of losing her first two children, twin daughters as a result of a complicated pregnancy and premature birth. Some of those lines came from concern and worry and grief over Anna and the hurt she felt for Anna's mother Jamie, my daughter and her granddaughter as she said a final goodbye to that sweet and irreplaceable 16 year old child. Certainly some of those lines came from caring for her second husband, who depended on her later in life as he dealt with Alzheimer's and other health issues. There are lines that surely came from the pain of losing each of her siblings that grew to adulthood with her, as they passed away one by one until she was left alone, the last remaining member of her generation. There are lines for each of her friends that she's lost along the way, either to death or distance caused by old age. There are lines that must come from pain that neither I, nor others know anything about, pain she's kept to herself, hurts and difficulties in her life known only to her. Some of those lines come from being strong through difficult times and being strong for others... doing the best she could, always working hard, always providing, always too proud to ask for help or assistance.

No, I didn't see old age or just wrinkles when I looked at her face that day in the hospital. I saw love, I saw experience, I saw the woman who shaped my life. I only wish everyone could see what I saw.

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