Wednesday, November 26, 2014

thanksgiving table...

tomorrow we gather around the table.  celebrating thanksgiving. counting blessings. sharing food & drink & traditions.

this year we will gather at our daughter & son-in-law's home.  their first in their new home. we will share the meal around newly purchased linens covering the table he made when they moved in.

the table...crafted after the one in our kitchen.  hearty & farm-like. worn paint. glue & glitter reminding us of that one Christmas project gotten to out of hand.  scars from plates placed with little grace and too much gusto. weather-marked from glasses condensating on warm summer days or mugs resting to cool when filled with too-hot pumpkin lattes on fall evenings.  all there on the table blaring boldly.

but isn't that what giving thanks is about?  finding the grace & mercy only He can offer? remembering harsh, hard seasons that exhaust us?  giving thanks for the days rich with plenty, but laying gratitude wide open for those seasons which stretched our rigid hearts & weary tenacity, knowing they will eventually come to pass but His strength & perseverance are there to tide us over until they do.

we will hold hands and offer a simple prayer thanking God for those who prepared the meal. mashed potatoes & stuffing, cranberry sauce & gravy passed from hand to hand, reminding us how much we need one another.  sharing a meal & sharing lives.  neither living nor eating were meant to be done alone.

dear God.
i am full of gratitude for the many blessings you have given.
thank you for the table we gather around & all it represents.
thank you for the hands held tight,
and the prayers spoken reminding me You are always in the mix.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

life is more like a smoothie than fruit cocktail...

growing up, a dinner side was often fruit cocktail.  the del monte kind with pears, grapes, pineapple, peaches and a sparse number of cherries all soaked in high fructose corn syrup. it was usually accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables {which i hated} and swanson frozen fried chicken. so much mouth-watering goodness served on a burnt orange melamine plate.

i was a kitchen helper growing up and would grab the can opener so i could dish the fruit cocktail.  i had a secret behind my assistance.  i wanted the cherries…all of them.  while scooping the fruit, i would eat every last cherry.  once dinner was on the table,  we three would sit and stare at the bowl of fruit.  my mom and sister could read my face confessing to the consumption all of the cherries.  dishes passed. meal devoured, except for my golden diced peaches.  i loathed those peaches. they were too soft & slippery. everytime this sugar-laden side was served, rejected peaches remained.  i would rather be denied dessert than eat the peaches. that's how strong the aversion.

yesterday,  i was visiting pjm and we were sitting at the dining table. he was eating an apple & flipping thru a party supply catalog.  the page turning was mostly a finger exercise.  he showed no interest in the items on any one page. me on his left and a caregiver on his right. she looks over singing out with her accent, "pjm, you so skinny.  you so very skinny.  you eat. you walk. you so skinny.  how about you give me some of your skinny.  i love to be skinny like you."

wait.  what?  she did not just say that.  as if she heard the screaming in my head, she repeats, "really pjm. give me ALL you skinny."

yep.  she wants all his skinny.  if felt insensitive as it rolled off her lips and splatted on to the table much like a swatter hitting a horse fly.  she has worked along side dementia for almost as long as pjm has been a resident.  skinny is the sometimes byproduct of dementia. and dementia is something no one would long for.

as i was drove home, i was replaying her thoughtlessness in my head.  there was this mental dialogue…"you want that skinny?  all the skinny?  you can have every diminishing ounce of that skinny.  but there is a catch.  you don't just get the skinny.  you get a laundry list of other symptoms that accompany dementia.  it isn't about just the skinny."

it reminded me of fruit cocktail and my six year old cherry picking fingers.  the skinny isn't about the cherries one loves or the peaches pushed aside.  disease doesn't work like that, nor does life. it's more like a smoothie of choices and not choices all blended up in a glass. the joys of all the cherries and the sorrow of all those peachy chunks commingled-you can't sift out the unwelcome adversity and toss it aside like i did those peaches.