I Just Can’t Win

pic of cell phone game

I saw this posted somewhere today, and it cracked me up.

And made me think.

I used to be one of those folks who kept my cell phone in my purse or tote and didn’t worry about missing calls.  We are old school and still have a land-line, so if you really need me, you can call the house.  Or if I’m out, well, I just figured it was never that urgent. I could and would eventually return a call or a text.

Then Daddy got sick.

For nearly three years, I carried my cell phone faithfully, worried that Mama would need to call me for one reason or another–updates on Daddy, emergencies, or who knows what.  I became one of THOSE people–the ones who find it necessary to check it every time it vibrates or pings.  The ones who carry it in their pocket so they can have easy access.  I haven’t carried my phone in my purse in I can’t remember how long.  I have even bought shirts, jackets, jeans, etc. based on the pocket positioning and whether my phone would fit or not.  True story.

There were times I was thankful I was so obsessed.  Like when Mama had to stop on the drive home from Emory because Daddy was having an allergic reaction to his chemo medication.  I was glad I had mine on me, and that we had insisted and put a cell phone in Mama’s hand to have at all times.  She wasn’t happy about it, but after being able to call 911 and to call us, I never heard her fuss about it again.

Then there was the time that her car with NEW tires had a flat when she was on her way to take care of our cousin.  It was the first time something like that had happened since Daddy died.  I was thankful then that I was THAT one in our book group, clinching my cell phone in my hand or sitting it on the table where the vibrations made everyone look around.  Mama said “don’t come.”  She was out of luck on that one.  Sometimes I’m not very obedient.

And there was the HospitalStay.  What if a doctor needed to call me with an update or question?  (They did.  More than once.)  What if I had to give verbal permission for a procedure? (I did.)  What if my cousin’s nurse needed to call while I was with Mama at the other hospital?  (Check.)  What if I needed to take notes, convert her Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit, call my Aunt or siblings, be available to give updates? (Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.)  My phone and clean underwear.  I never left the house without either during that time.  (And packed bags.  Just in case.  But that’s another story.)

More than once over the past few years I left home forgetting to grab my phone off the charger, and when I realized–usually within just a couple of minutes–I would go into panic mode.  I either turned the Blazer around, or I had Aub call Mama from her phone and tell her how to reach us over the next few hours.  And if my battery were low…..another panic attack.  I had to be accessible.  At All Times.  For my own sanity–it wasn’t anything Mama ever insisted on or even asked me to do.  I had to be ready at all times to take THE call.  As if having my phone at the ready meant I was prepared for whatever might come.  As. If.

I am that Mama, the one who insists the cell phone doesn’t come to the table.  Most nights.  When we are visiting with friends or family, I do the stare down and “eye” language until it is put away.  But I have to admit, I’m having a mighty hard time putting my own away.

The emergencies are over.  At least for now.  I hope.  But that’s the thing about emergencies, you don’t know you’re going to have one until you do.  I’m paraphrasing Eeyore here.

pic of eeyore quoteAnd so I find myself still carrying my cell phone in my pocket, checking the charge on it, and as much as I try not to, I do glance down when it vibrates or pings.  I really do not mean to be rude.  It’s become second nature.  Me and Pavlov’s dogs.  Just another thing I need to break myself from now that we’re on the other side of hospital visits and terminal diagnoses…..add it to the list.

Lesson learned here–I shouldn’t judge those who go through their days with their cell phones attached to to their bodies like some kind of lifeline.  I don’t know what is behind the need to have it at the ready.  Sure, it might be simple–that the next text message could be from “him,” or that someone might have commented on their latest Facebook post–but it could be that the weight they are carrying around is a heavy one.  And that the constant connection helps lighten the load.  Somehow.  I get it now.

I am going to try to let go and break myself of this need and obsession.  Eventually.  Maybe.  But just in case, if I am sitting with folks and someone suggests the “cell phone game,” I don’t think I’ll play.  For now, that’s a game I just can’t win.

A Walk, A Wave, and Whimsy

While I had the sewing machine out yesterday, working on my little cowboy’s handkerchiefs, I decided to try a quick project I saw on Pinterest. The pinner said she had a long-sleeved shirt that was too snug, so she split it down the front and center and made it into a lightweight spring/summer jacket. It looked really cute, and as she advertised it as no-sew, I thought I’d give it a try.  After all, I’ve been cutting with scissors since first grade, right?

I had a moss green shirt that was roomy and fairly cute that I got when shopping with the crew and a couple of friends at Goodwill a couple of weeks ago.  I decided to give it a try. Yesterday I pulled it out and decided to add some non-matchy ribbon for a bit of whimsy. (I just love that word–thank you Mr. Bob Goff!) It was a quick job and I was pleased with the result. Just right for throwing on when the breeze picks up or our Georgia spring decides to go into hiding once again.

As it was last night…..after several days of being housebound with my sick littles, I decided to go for an after supper walk. As I stepped out on the porch, I realized my “new” jacket would be just the right thing.

My whimsical jacket

My whimsical jacket

Success!  A Pinterest project I had completed and could use.

The weather was gorgeous, the walk was calming, and my mind wandered.  I was really pleased with the jacket, the weight was just right.  “And I like the length of these sleeves,” I thought.  “This is just the right length for Mama.  And this color–she would have loved this color.”  It was then that it hit me, Mama would have loved this jacket, and I would have given it to her.  Oh if only I could…..

The last three years, Mama was not able to shop as she once was able to.  Between staying with Daddy and taking care of my great Aunt and our cousin, she was very busy, and she left Daddy by himself or with someone else only for the most necessary of things.  I tried to help out by getting groceries some and keeping my eye out for a shirt or a pair of pants or the like that she was in need of.  She made a comment last year that she hadn’t been shopping for more than just a few groceries in a couple of years.

So it was that we talked her into a trip to the “GW Boutique.”  She was like a kid in a candy store.  It took something she was never fond of–clothes shopping for herself–and paired it with a passion of hers–getting a bargain.  She came away with some things she really loved.  She was abundantly joyful.  When she was with us at Christmas, she was tickled with the gifts we had upcycled for her and for each other from GW.  “You’ve done so well,” she said, almost in awe.  That was high praise indeed.  A treasured memory.

I’ve been told that there will be moments that the grief hits like a tidal wave.  Well, having lived it more than once, yes, I know that is true.  But knowing that something can happen does not fully prepare you for the actual happening.  I think the first time this reality hit was when I had to go to Target to get something for one of the littles.  It was one of my first ventures out after she died.   As I walked in I found myself in that mode of shopping with that extra eye–the eye of looking for something Mama could use or wear.  And it hit me…..I would have to de-program myself.

The next tidal wave hit when I went for my yearly appointment.  Ahem.  Never any fun, and as you do, I had to update my information.  And there, midway down the page, the words that made my hand freeze and my mind lock up for a good two minutes: “Emergency Contact.”  My Mama has been my emergency contact for as long as I could fill out that line on a form myself.  In school, in college, in grad school, at work, every doctor I’ve ever been to…..even when we moved to Japan, for they had to have information about where we would evacuate to, should the need arise.  I no longer had an emergency contact.  The sense of loss and being lost was overwhelming.

There has been one other time when the grief snuck up on me.  Aub had had her senior pictures done, and we were figuring out what shots to order.  As I sat down to place the order on our photographer’s website, once again I froze.   My mind had automatically gone to the “family count” of folks who get pictures…..and Mama and Daddy were always first on the list.  Truth?  I shut down the computer and haven’t placed the order yet.  (My apologies to our photographer–we do love you!  It’s not you, it’s me…..)

I guess you could say I handled this wave of grief on my walk a little better?  At least my feet kept moving.  I finished my walk watching the sun set behind the trees.  I tugged the jacket close and wondered how many more times over the years this loss of Mama, of Daddy, of so many others–how many more times will I be caught off guard?

Tonight I am thankful for my Mama, who taught me how to be thrifty and to love walks in the evenings.  I am thankful for my family and friends who are with me, who laugh and listen to my stories and are patient through my “situational” (I hope) attention and focus disorder.  I am happy to have tackled a Pinterest project and come out with a completed, usable project.  Most of all, I am thankful for my Mama who was full of whimsy and encouraged us to live a life full of whimsy ourselves.  Yeah, I think she would have loved that mismatched ribbon…..it’s just for fun after all.