Take me downstairs

She was my mom’s roommate at a nursing home. I loathed visiting my mom. Old ladies that either barely fit into their wheelchairs, or exploded out of them would follow me down the hallway. They would slide along moving at a snail pace, sliding their feet along as their means to get from one place to the next. It was as though I had the scent of youth and when I would come in the door they know and follow. Some of them were completely normal, and some were not quite right.

There were days I would see a group of random old ladies in my mom’s room. One would be facing the corner talking to herself, another would be sitting there staring at my mom not talking, and another would have fallen asleep mid entrance to her room. I would look at my mom and she would roll her eyes. Our unspoken angst at the situation neither of us had any control over.

Back to the roommate. She would talk in her sleep, and talk while awake. She would say things like: “Take me home.” Or “Take me downstairs.” Mind you the nursing home was one level. At first it all made me laugh, and then it just made me sad. The roommate did not have daily visitors, and when I would try to talk to her it made her cranky, and she would talk even more, in lines of gibberish that made no sense. My mom was in a nursing home because the hospital no longer had space and she needed extra care. I often wonder what it was like for her to live among those that were her mother’s age and older. She had her meals with them, did physical therapy, and activities with them. Did it drive her crazy? It was as though I watched her age during her stay at that nursing home.

I do not know what happened to her roommate, but my mom got better enough for us to move into a small apartment and in-home nurses would come and help her each day (in addition to what my sister and I would do to care for her). Thank God. I am not sure how much longer I could have watched the gaggle of old ladies congregate in my mom’s room. I might start to speak in their language. “Take me to…”

Which doors to open…

It has been a while since I have written about a book I have read. Two reasons: I have not had the time to read as many books lately, and I have not read as many books that have inspired me. However, over Thanksgiving I read a novel that I could not put down. It is called: “The Time Between” by Karen White. I am not even sure where to start in explaining this complex storyline.

It is about two sisters (Eve and Eleanor), their stories of loss, anger, longing, and forgiveness. One is in a wheelchair, and the other does everything she can to take care of her sister. She works long hours in an investment banking firm, plays the piano at night to bring in more money. The other sister sews gowns in her wheelchair. Such pieces she herself would have worn in past beauty pageants. Music is weaved throughout the story, second chances, and the beauty of an island. Of course there is so, so, so much more to the story, but I do not want to ruin it for you. There is one line near the end of the book that I had to share with you:

“There is how we were before, and how we are now, and the time between is spent choosing which doors to open, and which to close.” page 319

I thought this was the perfect morsel of insight from the book. White discusses this in different ways throughout the book. She is right. So often we are stuck in how we were before, that we cannot be okay with where we are now. As White alludes to throughout the book, there are many doors to which we can open or close and the choice is 99% ours to make. Do we forgive someone and move on, or do we stay stuck in what they have done to us? Can we get over the one that did not choose to love us, so that we can be present and ready for the one that we will love so deeply? Such good ideas for really anyone. Even with the sisterhood theme, it did not feel like chick lit to me. Just a great novel, and really I can see it made into a movie.

Open a new door. Take a few hours to read “The Time Between.” It is worth it.