Hospice and Leave — Day 10
Day 10 (Fri 9/19):
This was one of those odd days that actually felt like four separate days.
First, it was Kadie’s day to be with Mom. Since Kadie had memories of playing and shopping with Mom before her stroke in 2008, she wanted to go to the mall for lunch and then build a stuffed animal at Build-A-Bear. However, Mom’s blood pressure was alternating between sky high and alarmingly low, so she couldn’t join us. She and Kadie spoke about it and decided that Kadie and I would go together and then go to Di’s house to tell her all about it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these create-your-own stuffed animal stores, but it is a really cute idea. First, you choose the animal. (Kadie picked an elephant.) Then you select a sound. (Kadie chose to make her own animal sound which meant we ended up crowding into the store bathroom to record ourselves yelling, “Roooooooll Tide Roll!” into the recorder. I didn’t take a picture of that. Ha.) After that, you go to the stuffing station where a store employee fills your new toy with fluff.
Before stitching the animal closed, the clerk helps you pick a heart for your new friend. This is where things get fun because the best employees create routines for the child to give the animal personality. You shake the heart high (to shake out all the sad feelings), rub the heart on your head (to make her smart), and dance around (to fill her with joy). This is all quite fun..if you are five years old and don’t really care about making a spectacle of yourself at the mall. Kadie, however is 13, and I wondered if she would skip this part, especially since Di wasn’t there.
But no. Not Kadie.
Instead, she told the clerk that she was making this special gift for her grandmother who was too sick to come so it had to be “extra special.” Nodding in understanding, our clerk added some extra steps…like rubbing the elephant’s heart on her biceps (“for extra strength”), waving it to heaven (“for extra grace”), and having Kadie “shake what her mama gave her” so her toy would “laugh a lot and never be afraid to speak her own mind.” The two of them were loud and silly and could have been a commercial for what that store wants people to get out of the experience.
Hearing Kadie explain the situation so maturely and then watching her dance and laugh like a loon were too much, and all those emotions that had been bubbling near the surface for days finally spilled over. I stood there in Build-A-Bear snapping pictures with tears streaming down my face while Kadie smiled patiently and said, “It’s OK, Mom, really. It’s all good. Come dance with me!”
And while that made me cry harder, it also made me laugh. So we danced and toasted “To Di!” as we put that special heart into the stuffed elephant.
This is my mother’s legacy…or at least a part of it. No matter what is going on around them, my kids (usually) choose joy. This is what she has shown them, and generations will reap what she has sown.
We took the elephant to Mom, and she ooh’d and aaah’d as she has always done. She made us play the “Roll Tide” sound over and over. Then she smiled and told us to display the elephant proudly where my dad (the Auburn grad) would be sure to see it.
The second phase of my day, after we left Mom’s, was driving all over creation tackling our “before we head to the lake house” to-do list. We picked up the twins at the bus stop. We drove to the builder’s office to pick up our house keys. We went to a local donut shop to get free donuts for talking like a pirate. After a major “new house essentials” grocery run, we loaded the car and hit the road. My mom would have loved this road trip because we sang the whole way down. The Jacobs family singers’ rendition of “The Devil Went Down To Georgia” that night was epic. The kids know every word, and they have divvied up sections for leads and harmonies. It was really something.
The third part of the day was moving day. We finally showed up at the house at 9pm. Clint and the dog were there to greet us, and for the next two hours we unloaded furniture and boxes from the U-Haul and van. (It didn’t take long because we don’t have much furniture yet. The house, like most aspects of our lives, will be a work in progress for a long while.) Load by load, the house started taking shape. It was exhausting and amazing all at once. After a couple of hours, the kids hit the wall so we set up air mattresses and sleeping bags, and they fell asleep the moment their heads hit their pillows.
All in all, the final part of the day was the best part. It was still and quiet, and Clint and I sat giggling softly in the dark on our very own deck over the water watching the clouds move in the starlight late into the night. ♥
I thought about picking Charlie Daniels for my song for today, and it would be a good one. But years from now, when I look back on this day and think about it, I know I will hear this song. In my mind, I’ll hear my kids singing along in the car…with choreography:
Doesn’t take much to make me happy
And make me smile with glee.
Never, never will I feel discouraged
‘Cause our love’s no mystery.
Demonstrating love and affection
That you give so openly, yeah.
I like the way you make me feel about you, baby
Want the whole wide world to see.
Going in and out of changes.
The kind that come around each day.
My life has a better meaning.
Love has kissed me in a beautiful way.
Whoa whoa, you got the best of my love.