Saturday, October 22, 2011

What's for Breakfast?

Some of my long-time readers know that I originally wrote a lot of stories about what it was like to live with a person with Down Syndrome, and some have even commented that they really miss my “Walker Stories”. Well, life settled down to a fairly predictable boredom over the past several years, so I branched out and rattled on about anything and everything.

My recent surgery, however, precipitated some ripples at home, and I’m back to my primary concern…living with Walker.

After two knee replacements and a few out of town trips, Walker had gotten used to coping with his predictable world being a little less so for short periods of time. I usually make sure that his needs are covered and have plans in place to make sure he will be safe and well cared for. I noticed a difference in Walker just before our last trip, a short one to Montgomery a few weeks ago. The night before we left he questioned me repeatedly about what he would have on hand to eat, who would be covering for me, etc. I realized that I probably hadn’t left enough microwave ready food that would appeal to him, so found myself flipping burgers to leave in the fridge at bedtime the night before we left. After I showed him his choices, he seemed to relax about everything but breakfast, which has become a bit of an issue in the past year.

For a long, long time, Walker’s preferred breakfast was two Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits which he microwaved for himself and went off to work with something in his tummy that would last till his rather late lunch break. Then one day he noticed that the package described the biscuits as “snack size”. They were the same biscuits, just as greasy and cholesterol filled as before, but now they were declared not to be suitable as breakfast. We reached a truce about my being a short order breakfast cook, and I agreed to fix him something two or three days a week while we looked for a suitable breakfast that he could fix for himself. (Cereal does not suit him…so don’t even suggest that one.)

Then I ended up having kidney surgery last week, and being kind of under the weather even after I got home. He has questioned me daily about what I might feel like cooking, which was actually not very much, but I did put some blueberry muffins in yesterday, and there were enough left over for today. Not acceptable…he really was craving waffles. He settled for a couple of Pop Tarts. It wasn’t a work day, and he’ll eat lunch at a normal time, so I kind of forgot about it.

A little later he came down and asked, “Which knee is it?” perhaps trying to figure out if I’d grown a third leg. I told him it wasn’t my knee this time, but that I had a kidney cancer removed, and it left my tummy pretty sore. “Cancer?’ he commented, looking a bit alarmed.

“Yeah, but it’s all gone now, and I’ll be fine. I just need some time to get better.” With a shrug he was gone again.

All this has led me back to being concerned for his welfare when the time finally comes that I don’t dodge the bullet. How do I prepare him for the likelihood that I might not always be around to fix his breakfast without scaring him to death. We’ll figure it out, I’m sure, but I realized that my boy-man still needs his mama right now. Maybe I’ll make those waffles tomorrow. I feel privileged to be able to do it for now.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Can Go Home Again

Since my mother died, my trips back to Sweet Home Alabama have been few and far between. I guess the pain of losing her and all my connections at one time seemed to just be too much. Without a bedroom and bath awaiting me anytime I happened to have a whim to visit, visiting now required making arrangements and imposing on others that might not find my spontaneity charming, just inconvenient.

A few years ago I made some tentative connections with a friend from school and we’ve kept in touch. When Fran found herself chairing the fiftieth reunion for our high school class, I somehow got involved too. Now I had a purpose in going home, at least occasionally. Fairly nice hotels aren’t too expensive, and it would be a chance to visit my brother and his family and my oldest and dearest friend. So, I agreed to attend a meeting of the reunion committee, and ended up with a nice invitation to stay with my friend…and her new husband…so we planned a weekend visit. My brother and his wife were free, so we scheduled a day with them at the lake and an evening of college football.

I can’t remember when I’ve been so blissfully happy.

Montgomery has changed. The action is primarily in a part of town that I didn’t even know existed when I left there fifty years ago. There were nice restaurants I’d never visited, new developments designed for empty nesters, and it seemed like a great place to be.

I found our old lake house mostly unchanged, and the changes that my brother and his wife have made have enhanced enjoyment of the beautiful clear lake without losing the charm of an early 1950’s style cabin. We rode around and looked at all the fabulous mansions sprawling around the lake, but when I arrived back at the cabin and sat on the screened porch overlooking the tranquil lake, I hoped it would always be home to me.

My meeting with old classmates to plan the reunion had created a bit of anxiety on my part. I had not seen most of them in at least thirty years, some in nearly fifty. I was never really a leader in my class, and kind of hung out on the fringes of the action, usually unaware of how hard those leaders worked in extra-curricular activities because I spent most of my free time either with my nose in a book or on the phone with my boyfriend. Would they recognize that I’d found some gifts of my own as I matured? Would they discount the possibility of a dumpy little housewife being able to make a contribution? Would we even recognize each other or have memories? All those fears vanished as we greeted each other with hugs around mostly well padded bodies, shared a sandwich and a glass of wine, and got down to business.

My contribution to the meeting was warmly received, and I got more positive strokes in that one night than I often get in a whole year. It was blissful!

Part of my time in Montgomery was spent getting acquainted with Florence’s charming new husband, Howard. We laughed and told stories and got to know each other. We shared some delicious meals, and began a new kind of friendship as adult couples. I also squeezed in brief visit to her Aunt Ruth, who lives in the house where my mother spent her last couple of years, and one with my oldest nephew on his thirtieth birthday.

I can’t wait to go home again!