The Banks County News
December 10, 2003
Shes resting quietly now. Her breathing is so shallow. Her lips are quivering - silent words being spoken in a dream?
It had been a rough day for her. And a heart-breaker for me. We had run the gamut. For a while I was her daughter; then I was her mom; then I was a friend from the orphanage where she spent the first eight years of her life.
I remember going there when I was a kid. Wed take old toys and outgrown clothes to the kids there. I spent my childhood wearing hand-me-downs and playing with discarded toys from other families. As someone who grew up feeling like I was at the bottom of the food chain, it surprised me to find others in a worse predicament than me and it made me feel guilty for not truly appreciating the little I did have.
Mom seldom talked about her time there. She always said she didnt remember or I was just a little kid. It made me think there was more to the story.
That evening, I found out a bit more to the story. She had reverted back to her days spent there. I was now her friend Cindy. She and Cindy must have been good buds.
Mom leaned over in her bed around 9 and started whispering to me. It took me a few minutes to catch on to the new role I now had to play.
She asked: When are we going to run away? Dont you think it ought to be soon?
We have to think and plan a little more about this. Im not sure this is the right time.
No one is ever going to adopt us are they? Why wont somebody love me and take me home? Whats wrong with me? Why didnt my real mother want to keep me?
Tears were spilling down her cheeks. She was so sad. It just tore my heart.
We cant give up! Youll see. Youll have a mom and dad. I just know it. So, dont cry. In the meantime, we have each other. I love you.
I crawled into bed with her and held her gently, rocking her, singing softly to her.
She seemed to settle back down. Her eyes closed and she prayed. She prayed for a loving mother and father. She begged to know why her real mom didnt want her. The tears flowed again.
Please, please give me a home, she begged.
I held her until she fell asleep.
My thoughts went back to the orphanage. I used to worry that if I was bad, Id be given away. It astonished me to feel that fear again. I remember the look in their eyes, so lost, this inner pain that simmered just below the surface. I had seen it in Moms eyes. Life really stinks sometimes.
Earlier in the day, we had gone for a spin around the grounds. It was pleasant for an Ohio November day. The autumn colors were still vivid. The sky a beautiful, deep, clear blue.
As I bundled her up, she insisted she take all her babies with her. She didnt want to leave without her stuffed animals, her family.
So, I piled them into her lap, threw a blanket over her and rolled her into sun.
Wheres your car?
Its over there. Why?
Well, arent you taking me home? Dad must be worried about us.
That was the first time in over a year she had mentioned Dad.
We cant go home, Mama. Doctors say you have to stay here. Youre too weak.
Those doctors dont know anything. Im fine. I want to go home. Your father hasnt even been here to see me.
I thought, oh, boy
Dads been dead for 10 years now. How do I handle this one?
Mom, Dads all right. If he could come and see you, he would. But he cant.
She fell silent; distracted by a raccoon who was nibbling on treats left by the other residents. We stopped and watched it until it finished whatever it was eating and rambled back into the brush.
We continued our walk, watching the gold finches and purple house finches visit the various feeders around the grounds. All was well again.
As we approached the front door, she asked: Are we going back in there? thought we were going home.
No, Mama. Ill explain when we get back to your room.
She pouted the whole way.
Once I got the blanket off, the critters back in bed, I took her tiny hands in mine and looked into her sad eyes.
Mama, I cant take you out of here. Do you remember what happened to you?
No, what happened to me?
Earlier this year, you took a bad fall. You had a concussion, a bad concussion. For five days you were in the hospital. Do you remember that?
No. I fell?
Yes, Mom, you fell. And the fall did some damage to the cells in your brain. You already had some damage from what appears to be several minor stokes. That damage has affected your memory. You were forgetting some important things, like eating and taking your medicine. So, the doctor sent you here. You were too weak, too fragile to send home. You have to think of this place as your home now.
I have to stay here? For how long?
Im not sure, Mom. But, you have to make the best of it. And you have to eat more. Youve been in the hospital three times now because you havent been eating. The protein count of your blood is so low, they consider you malnourished. And when you have no protein in your blood, your body takes it from other places like your muscles and even your organs in order to keep you going. And, Mom, youre just skin and bones - you dont have any muscle mass anymore. That puts your liver and kidneys in danger. Theres been talk of inserting a feeding tube. Weve been fighting it, but there are no guarantees it wont happen.
Oh, she said, is that why Im in this wheelchair?
Yes, you dont have the strength to walk anymore.
She looked deep into my eyes. She saw I was telling the truth, though it was a truth she did not want to hear or believe. She shrugged her shoulders and I was expecting to have to come up with more answers.
Instead, she looked at me, smiled and asked what I wanted for lunch.
Well, I should fix you something. You must be hungry.
We dont have to worry about that. Lunch is all taken care of. We have others cooking for us. That one great thing about being here. You dont have to cook or clean up.
I hope it something good. Im hungry.
She did eat her lunch and her dinner, though it took forever and a whole lot of persuasion to get it all down her. If only shed keep that up.
But, there was other news from the doctor I didnt go into. During her most recent visit t the hospital, a chest X-ray showed spots in her lungs. I didnt even want to think about that. I held her hand, stroking it softly, wishing there was some way out of all this for her. Wishing I could just take all her suffering and confusion and stuff it somewhere out of sight and out of mind. Her real mom dumped her; her step-mother died when she was just 12 years old; her step-father at 16. I wondered whether her heavenly Father had abandoned her as well.
I love you, Mama, I whispered. Good thing she was asleep, I wouldnt have wanted her to see me cry.
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.
The Banks County News
December 10, 2003
Tis the season...for lots of trees
It took three days. It led to a lot of sore muscles. But its over and the results are festive, to say the least.
My mother and I spent the recent three-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend decorating the house for the Christmas season. We now have 10 trees, yes 10, ranging in size from tiny ones in the bathrooms to a large one in the family room. We have never had this many trees in the house before but decided to go all out since its our first full holiday season in the new house. Last year, we spent December moving so we didnt do a lot of decorating.
We have collected a variety of trees over the years, which we found in the attic, the basement and outside buildings when we moved. We spruced them up and filled the house with greenery. I did buy three new trees this year for my end of the house, one for my bedroom and two small ones for my living room. I have a three-room apartment on one end of the house and wanted it to look at festive as possible. Ive never had so much room to decorate.
We spread out other holiday decorations, such as nativity scenes, glass Santa figurines, stuffed animals and even a four-foot tall blue Santa that I bought one year at an after-Christmas sale. I knew he would come in handy one day. Now, he graces the front hall of our home and welcomes visitors inside. Add a few wreaths on the front of the house and we were finished.
My dad thinks mom and I have gone crazy. He doesnt understand why we have so many trees in the house. My 2-year-old nephew, Jake, does love all of the trees though. He likes to have the lights sparkling at all times on all of the trees. When I hear him coming in, I start plugging them up.
I hope everyone has a happy holiday season. Enjoy all that this magical time of year has to offer. Be sure to spend as much time as possible with your family and friends, go to a church Christmas singing or play, be patient and smile when shopping and spread holiday cheer everywhere you go. And always remember why we celebrate Christmasthe birth of Jesus.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com or 367-2490.