Saturday, May 14, 2011

Give and Take

Ever since my Mom moved back to our area, we have been taking her to her house on the Indiana dunes every couple of weeks. This means that one or two weekends every month we lose time to spend on our house, yard, garden. It means a much longer drive to Large's dance classes at the Academy of the Joffrey downtown. It means we have to arrange for someone to take care of our menagerie. In general, it is a disruption and has added another layer of complication to our lives.

On the other hand, we get to spend time in one of the most beautiful places in the Midwest. We get to stay in a comfortable house at least twice the size of our own. We get to cook dinner in a kitchen that affords us the opportunity to see an amazing variety of birds out the window. We wash dishes while watching hummingbirds at the feeder. In summer we get to see lizards run around outside, frogs perch on the windows at night and enjoy our selves for hours on end on a deserted beach.

So, we don't complain. We are learning how to work around the disruption to our domestic routine. As long as the house is important to my mother, she should be able to keep it and visit it whenever possible. She wants to have more big family gatherings here, even if her days of cooking dinner have passed her by. She gets confused in the house, misplacing things. But she knows it is hers and it reminds her pleasantly of my father. Just after he died, it was hard for her to be in the house he built. Too many ghosts of his long decline were lingering to disturb her sleep. She focuses more now on the happy memories now that some time has passed. As do I.

It is always a big homecoming to my mom when we drive up. She thinks it has been months since she was there, when really it has just been a few weeks. She marvels at how clean everything is, forgetting my efforts to tidy up when we leave and ignoring the dead bugs everywhere. She checks on the fish, who are always happy to see her and be overfed. She asks me to build a fire. The house brings her a lot of pleasure, but also some anxiety. It's size is overwhelming, she's always looking for clues around the rooms to remember what she is supposed to be doing. She's always anxious about leaving, about getting the day and time right to leave. In a way, it's probably a relief to her to go back to her apartment, to her other home which also doesn't quite feel like home.

The kids enjoy their time there. When it rains, they read, use my father's art supplies or play wii. When it doesn't rain, they are outside exploring or on the beach. It's a magical place for them, an integral part of their childhood. They are so lucky.

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