Dear Loving Family and Friends,
I finally understand Great Grandma. For years we would laugh about memories of Grandma disappearing at a small amusement park to walk down the street for batteries without telling anyone, how she would painstakingly cut out sheets and sheets of biscochito cookies in the early morning when no one was awake, and how she would take hours making her personalized craft cards and embroidered calendars for us as gifts. All things we loved but wished she would let us help her do.
Revelation has been coming to me these past few months of battling with RA. Pain, limited motion and side effects of medication have caused me to rest more than I am used to and to rely on loved ones for simple tasks that I used to accomplish without thinking. Full understanding hit me during this week though as I prepared for our family gathering celebrating one son back from NYC and another one heading out to military training. I spent the week before resting in bed and planning how I could modify the long list of “favorite foods” requested during these events.
Everyone asked how they could help, what they could bring and what errands they could run. I appreciated it all and divided some of the tasks and requested others come early for prep. Yet the night before when everyone was gone I bake two cakes and prepped most of the meal. My family came home to see the work and appreciated it all, but “tsk tsk” me for not letting them do it.
That is the key I realized the next morning, “Let them do it.” If I am just standing around giving orders, I am not doing it. I would have become like Grandma. Everyone looking out for me, taking things out of my hands they deemed too heavy, or running to open doors that it is going to be awhile before I get to. Interestingly enough, I used to shake the rafters with my requests for my kids to “get a move on” and help. I should be thrilled that their upbringing has paid off and they are caring and responsible. Yet, their reasons for the care is what chafes me at times.
If I was able to lug in tons of groceries, would they be so quick to run for the door when they hear the car pull in? Would their eyes dart up in concern when they overhear me talking on the phone about driving out somewhere farther away? It is the reason that wears at me, not their love.
This is what caused Grandma to sneak around and do things in secret for us that we could have done for ourselves. She wanted us to know how much she loved us. She also wanted us to let her be herself for just a bit longer, to be how she still felt inside and wanted us to see in her, as well.
With this battle, I cannot plan out my moments of energy or absence of pain. The day can shift in an instant, but I cannot live my life anticipating the instant. So I will still sneak around. You will come home and find fresh baked cookies, or that I went to the store because I wanted to pick out the best roast for dinner, and that I stayed up writing throughout the night even though it may mean I will be in bed with ice packs for most of the morning. I must still be me.
And please know that I love the concerned looks from across the room that you think you are hiding. I love how you care about the hard moments that I think I am hiding. I love how you walk quietly in the room when you think I am sleeping. I simply love how happy you are when one of our days seems more like normal.
Simply put, I love that you love me.
But I am still going to frustrate you with my independence, because I’m a brat… but you love that about me.