Thursday, July 7, 2011

Back to Pennsylvania

For those of you who are regular or not so regular readers of this blog, this is just a little note to let you all know that there will not be a posting next week.  I will be out of town in a place lacking internet and toilets that can handle toilet paper being flushed down them.  With so much to look forward to, I feel confident that the follow blog on the 21st, for those of you who need a date, should be interesting. 

Tasty Tidbit #1:  Lazy

            July 2nd was pretty cool.  That was the day or rather evening that we spent celebrating the Fourth.  A bit premature I admit, but fun none the less.  My husband, Teresa, and I headed to Brenda’s house to enjoy a cookout, hay rides, and over a thousand dollars in explosives.  I have just a little bit of a pyro in me.  I would use Brenda’s code name but I can’t remember it.  I suppose I could make up a new one for her but I wanted her to know how much I appreciated that night out.  For the first time in a long time I was required to do nothing more than sit on the sidelines.  To be honest I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I was given the mission of yelling for Brenda’s husband; apparently I have talents in the loud and obnoxious department.  I just have that special way, lol.  Instead of running around taking care of guests or setting up tables, I sat on my duff.  Our group offered our services, but the point was for us to relax. I admit I wasn’t sure exactly how to do that.  I figured it out though.  It was wonderful not having to run anything or run at all.  Just sit and watch things blow up, making pretty sparkly colors in the sky.  The paper lanterns and the balloons were awesome too.  The laziness got so bad that during the fireworks I stopped clapping and started using my singular yelling talent.  Instead of clapping I yelled, “I’m clapping with my mouth.” No I wasn’t drunk, didn’t even have a single beer that night, just had fun.  So thank you Brenda, for helping me remember that being lazy once in a while is a lot of fun!

Tasty Tidbit #2:  I spell Hell: D-M-V

            Oh yes ma’am.  Today I got to experience that most necessary and soul crushing experience called the DMV.  I managed to elude the establishment for a couple of years, but with my license expiring the day I am supposed to be leaving on my trip and that I’ve moved and now live in another state I decided that avoidance was no longer an option.  I had heard rumors about this DMV, be prepared to rot in a chair while waiting.  In Wisconsin they didn’t have chairs so I thought I was prepared.  I brought every kind of paper that I thought I would need; my husband’s orders, our lease agreement, three bills, my social security card, my birth certificate, a current LES from the hubby, and a blood sample.  When I arrived and after I had stood in line for the standard minimum state required length of time, I made it to the counter where the nice lady there informed me that I was missing a piece of paperwork, and that they required a urine sample, not blood.  The piece of paper, my marriage certificate.  So like a good little girl I drive back home, locate my marriage certificate, and drive back.  More waiting.  I get my number, great B250.  The number on the screen was B240, wow only ten numbers between me and freedom, this should be a friggin’ breeze.  Not.  The first hour we got all the way up to B242.  If you think I’m kidding, you’ve never been to a DMV.  By this time my urine sample was cold and my eyes were starting to twitch.  It took another fifty-five minutes to get me to the counter.  Five minutes later I was released back into the wild with an ugly picture and the strangest sense that someone had just sucked two hours of my life out of my body.  I think they keep it in a barrel in the back room.  Thank God I have three years before I have to go back.  I made it all the way to the car before I realized they never asked for the urine sample. 

Back to Pennsylvania

            Doesn’t sound like a horror story does it?  In truth it’s not.  Uncomfortable, yes.  Grating, yes.  Nerve wracking, definitely.  So why go you ask, because that is where it all begins, at least that’s where my story begins.  I suppose if you want to be technical it’s where most of my family’s story begins, on my mother’s side.  My mother called me a few weeks ago asking me to go with her on an annual trip to the back woods of nowhere.  I don’t have a problem with nowhere; I do have a slight problem with what is waiting for me in nowhere.
            PA as I always call it, even if it’s not technically correct to write it that way, has always been a source of comfort to me.  When my parents were getting divorced I went there for most of a summer, just me and the woods and the wood spiders.  I sat on the rock in the middle of the creek and watched the sunlight dance.  A couple of years ago I needed to get away from everything, even my precious animals, I went to PA.  I spent two weeks recharging my batteries.  I sat in the middle of a gravel drive and meditated.  I wrote an entire notebook of ideas and journal entries that I’m still sorting through.  My mother and I like to play a little game where we compete to see who gets my grandmother to say their full name the most; oddly enough I don’t always win that one.  For years going to PA with my mother was a blessing, a chance to get away, time for the two of us to just be together.  As things do, PA changed and I’m not sure why.
            Maybe it was just time for me to grow up and stop seeing PA as the magical getaway, but I don’t believe that, not really.  It wasn’t just that my grandmother is so outspoken about her religion, she’s told me enough times that I’m going to hell to make me laugh, though out of respect I don’t, usually.  I blamed it on the religious element at first.  I was tired of hearing her rhetoric, tired of hearing how everyone in the world was going to hell but a handful, her handful.  I have no problem with people having different ideas or beliefs than me; I just don’t need them rammed down my throat.  But it’s not the religion.  That’s who my grandmother is, period.  Accept, move on.
            There’s also the head biting, meaning she has this habit of being my sweet old grandmother who yells, can you hear me now from the car window at the Verizon van, to someone who tries to eat the face off somebody because they ask how my uncle in the hospital is doing, it’s a weird transition.  Sometimes she forgets things.  She forgets to turn the stove on, or off.  She forgets that she just told us the same thing three times and tells us again.  She forgets that she is seventy-two and that she has two knee replacements and at least one hip replacement possibly two.  She forgets and she falls and she gets up and she falls. 
            She also pauses.  As we are walking to the car, she’ll just dead stop.  She doesn’t walk very fast so it’s not abrupt, but it can be a little startling if you are walking behind her not paying attention.  When my grandmother stops she always looks around.  Not real fast like you are trying to cross an intersection, but slowly, taking everything in.  Then she’ll point to something in the garden, or to some tree next to the fence.  She’ll talk about the color, how much rain there’s been, how the sun is affecting the bean crop, where the birds are nesting this year.  Always some detail.  Small, insignificant.  When in a hurry these pauses seem to take forever, until you begin to appreciate them.  My grandmother can tell you the history of the trees in her yard and in the surrounding forest.  She can tell you about each stump, and when each flower will bloom.  My grandmother is amazing.  Yet she makes me uncomfortable.
I remember the first time I felt the need to leave PA, the first time it no longer felt like a safe haven.  The first time that my sanctuary dream was shattered.  My grandmother was recovering from a hip replacement surgery.  The second one, I think.  My mother was helping her in my grandmother’s bedroom and I was called in to help.  There on the bed was my grandmother, a strong powerful woman that you just don’t screw with because you will lose.  She was laying there, my mother supporting her.  My mother was trying to help her pull an adult diaper on.  My mother asked me to help support my grandmother while she worked the diaper up.  After we got that on we put my grandmothers socks on, I put on the right one.  The next time we came to visit, she fell the day before we got there breaking a couple of ribs.  She had been bending over pulling a weed out of the rose bed and down she went.  We didn’t play our game as much that year, laughing hurt her too much.  The last time we went, she was different in a way I can’t describe.  There was a meanness in her.  Maybe it was always there and I didn’t notice it before, I don’t know.  And she kept forgetting.  That worried me more than the mean streak.  My grandmother is changing.  My grandmother is getting old.
Maybe that’s an obvious statement, maybe not so much.  The powerful woman I knew as a child and even as an adult has somehow shrunk, become smaller.  It reminds me of one of her flowers that blooms and then begins to wilt.  My grandmother is wilting and it hurts for me to see it happen.  I realize we all wilt, if we make it that far.  Still it bothers me.  Maybe that’s why I don’t want to go to PA, maybe that’s why I don’t want to wander in the woods anymore.  I want to hold out my hand so she can steady herself as she moves up and down the single step in their home.  I want her to stand straight and tall again.  I don’t want to see the spark slip away.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  I realize I’ll have to, eventually.  If I go to Pennsylvania I have to face it, if I stay home I can live in my memories.  So tomorrow I’ll pack my bags and Saturday I’ll head back to my sanctuary and learn what life has to teach me.

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