I sit in a cushioned chair at the end of two industrial dining tables pushed together waiting for my mother. After a few minutes, she comes through the door pushing her walker, looking small in the cavernous room, a young woman with long brown hair and wearing colorful scrubs at her elbow.
Before the pandemic, it used to be the dining room. Now the tables and chairs are piled around the edges of the room. A temporary wall divides the space so two residents of the Assisted Living Community can have visitors at the same time.
I already had my temperature taken and signed the papers with all the standard Corona Virus questions.
“I feel like royalty,” I say to the tall woman orchestrating it all, as she leads me to the long table with a chair at either end. It’s like one of those British movies where the rich couple sit on opposite ends of the long table meant for more than two people.
She laughs almost relieved, “Oh that’s good,” she says “I like that”. I get the feeling she expected me to say something else.
My mother had been in Assisted Living about a month. This was the first time I visited her since she moved. I had to put my glasses on to see her across the table. I felt like we were yelling trying to be heard through our masks and across the distance.
Talking has always been difficult between my mother and me. In a way, these new obstacles at least gave a tangible reason for it.
We talk for forty-five minutes until the tall woman comes back in the room and says it’s time for my mother to go. I wait for the aid to come in and lead her out of the room before I leave.
Although the place where my mother is living is very nice in so many ways, and she seems to be very comfortable, even happy there, I was reminded of the time visiting my ex-brother-in-law in prison.
I didn’t cry till I got back in my car.
In the past few years I haven’t seen a lot of my mother even though she lived only a little over an hour away. Now she’s now living in a very nice place where she’s getting the care she needs. So it isn’t as if our relationship is much altered by her move.
But it was sad to actually see her in this new and final stage in her life.
I visited my mother about three weeks ago and knew that I wanted to include the visit on my Corona Kimono. But it wasn’t until today that I could get myself to draw the image that came to my mind and commit it to thread.
Jon and I were both tired when we made our podcast today. Him from recovering from his surgery and me from working around the farm. But we were glad to talk about the rituals of the farm, and our lives this past week.
It’s called Bloody by Unbowed. The Rituals of Bedlam Farm, The Lessons of Aging. You can listen to it here.
And you can listen to any of our Katz and Wulf On Bedlam Farm podcasts anytime on Spreaker, Apple Podcast and Itunes, or by clicking on the Podcast button on my blog. .
After enough cold days and night to make me believe that winter was coming early, yesterday and today have quickly changed my mind. Warm and windy, the trees are turning color early but doing it beautifully.
Yesterday afternoon I walked into the barn to get the plastic pots that I’d store the dahlias in after digging them up. That’s when I saw that the barn window was in worse condition than the day before. I thought I could fix it, but if I let it go any longer, it might be beyond repair.
So instead of digging dahlia’s, I went into the house and got the tools I’d need to remove and repair the window sashes, point and glaze the window panes, paint windows and frame and put it back together.
The windows in the barn are fixed, we don’t ever open them, so I just needed to repair it enough to keep the weather out.
It took me a couple of hours to do the work knowing the next day I’d have to finish painting the grazing and get a one by four to replace one piece of molding on the outside of the barn.
This morning I wondered if I’d get to the dahlias at all.
As often happens with old buildings, the more I did the more I saw that needed to be done. The other window on the barn could use some work too as well as some painting and on and on…..
I did stop after fixing the one window. The work I did is by no means perfect. The window sill really should be replaced, but I don’t know how to do that. And even if I could figure it out, I don’t have the right tools.
But still, I was happy with my work. The window now functions for our needs, keeping the rain out, letting the light in and the inside of the barn dry.
Jon walked up to the car as I pulled up to the doors at Albany Med. “Hey toots, how bout a ride,” he said as he opened the door and got in. I pulled off his mask and gave him a big kiss.
After a tedious wait, Jon finally called me at 2pm and told me I could pick him up.
We made a stop for ice cream and a bottle of wine on the way home. Now Jon’s napping, the animals are fed and there is a hush over the farm. As if all is right again.
In an hour or so I’ll make a simple dinner, Jon will blog then we have plans to watch the new documentary about Oliver Sacks. It’s the beginning of the weekend and I’ll do my best to make Jon take it easy for a couple of days.
But that’s always a challenge. And one I’m glad to have.
I found myself folding the pile of clothes that I had thrown on the chair in the bedroom over the past few days. Then, in the kitchen, I was scrubbing the sink and countertops. If I didn’t stop myself I probably would have cleaned out the refrigerator.
I had plenty to do this morning before Jon’s surgery, but when I’m nervous I organize, I clean. I think it’s my way of having some control when I feel like I have none at all.
I’m not good at waiting, I’d rather be doing something. Especially something physical that expends my nervous energy. But today will be a day of waiting. And I’m prepared for it.
I have my sketch pad and two new markers, Yaa Gyasi’s new book Transcendent Kingdom which I’m already hooked on and of course, my iPhone so I can do my email, take some pictures, text friends (and a million others things if I want to).
I’m planning on being in the hospital through visiting hours this evening. We have someone taking care of the animals and farm till I get home.
I know once we get to the hospital, I’ll be in the moment, dealing with what is right in front of me. But right now, I’m looking forward to getting up tomorrow morning, going back to the hospital and bringing Jon home.
I cried last night when I heard that Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, and I keep crying. That’s surprised me. It’s not that I expected her to live forever. It’s just that she’s always been there. In my lifetime and awareness of the Supreme Court, RBG was the Supreme Court.
It pissed me off that we can’t just celebrate her life, that we have to be afraid that her seat will be taken by someone who will do damage to everything she stood for.
But with the loss, I also felt her spirit.
I felt a righteous anger low in my belly. I felt her legacy being passed on to all of us who embraced it. RBG wouldn’t have been afraid, and even if she was, she would have just keep fighting. Now it’s my turn, our turn to pick up the sword. To keep that legacy going in whatever way we can.
Nothing stopped RBG, even in death she lives on. She showed me what one woman could do. She showed me the power of persistence, the power of dissent.
I keep thinking of the myth of how Judy Garland’s death sparked the Stonewall Riots. I love the idea that by living our lives to the fullest we can inspire people in our death.
It makes me hopeful about what Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death will bring to on.