In 1990 my mother was featured in a cover story for the Local section of the Columbus Dispatch in an article about early risers. The premise of the article was to uncover just how much can be accomplished before 8AM. My mother, shown in a photo speed walking our dogs, could grocery shop, rouse her teenage daughters, make breakfast for her husband, prepare brown bag lunches for the entire family, shower, get dressed and walk the dogs, all before the Today Show had wrapped up its time with its expensive anchors. She prided herself on this ability. Our family and good friends bragged about it.
Looking back at that photo of my energetic mother speed walking her big German shepherd used to be a lot harder to do. My mother, about two years ago, found herself wheelchair-bound. I used to joke about it with her. She was falling all the time due to complications from several spinal compression-points caused by arthritis, and I was really concerned she
might do some permanent damage.
“We’ll have to bring you your meals,” I jokingly warned. “You’ll be calling out things like, `Can you please open the blinds, Joselin? I’d like to watch the squirrels now.'”
It would make her laugh, but then a few years later the unthinkable happened. On one of her early-riser-mornings, she tripped over her chocolate lab and broke her hip. She never got out of the wheelchair.
Over the years my sister and I have had to rely on relative strangers taking care of our mother. We are lucky she could afford the help. But it was stressful. There were thieves, alcoholics and other advantage-takers. Our mother was unable to shower for almost a year, forced as she was to wash herself in the bathroom sink in her bathroom that was entirely unequipped for a wheelchair. Worst of all, she was depressed and she was in pain.
The other day, my husband and I hung two framed, colorful collages on our wall. My mother was always creative, but she hadn’t really focused on art or creative pursuits since we were kids. For the last year my mother has been scrapbooking and creating these beautiful collages. I have been looking at the two she gave me on my last visit every day and when I do, I can’t help but beam from ear-to-ear.
Her remodeled bathroom allows her to make use of every inch of its space (Thanks Michelle Demond-Axelrod)! Her pain is mostly gone as she completes the necessary physical therapy with her staid and trusty “babysitter” as she jokingly calls her helper, our family-friend, Keith.
She is still in that wheelchair but yesterday she called and said, “I stood on my own without touching anything for a minute!”
There is a lot of work for her still to do, but I am so proud of my mother. Her creative masterpieces hanging on my wall is a reminder that any of us can overcome anything with a little time, compassion and CREATIVITY.
I hope each of us creates something today and enjoys this beautiful summer day while we do it.