I am in Colorado, sitting in my car talking to my sister, Anne, in Texas. She has spent the last week helping my parents in the hospital while my mom, Andrea, had a kidney infection. Anne tells me that, when it was time to leave the hospital, she said, "Mom, it's time to go home."
Mom said, "Anne, I don't have a home."
Dad said, "You know, Andrea, I just can't call that place home either."
Mom and Dad had been living in an assisted living community in Austin, Tx for about nine months, and while it was not horrible, the situation was a bit depressing. And while the facility provided a more-than-basic level of care, clearly the place had not become "home" for either of them.
I told Anne, "Well, you know, things in life can change on a dime. We never actually know what is right around the corner."
Kelly and I put an offer down on a house in Buena Vista, Colorado.
We invited Mom and Dad to move to Colorado with us.
Locket, Kelly and I loaded up in the Sprinter van and took a cross-country camping, hiking and teaching trip that included visits to some of my favorite yoga communities and gave me the distinct honor of getting to marry two of my yoga students, which was a highlight.
October 18, we took possession of our new house.
I spent a lovely week in San Marcos, Texas hosting Manorama for her intensive and co-teaching with Gioconda Parker.
Mom and Dad moved in.
Anne and Jeff came for Thanksgiving.
December I returned to San Marcos for the Winter Asana Intensive. We had our first Christmas here. Anne and Jeff came for the holidays again.
The new year began and continued with teaching trips, snow blowers, learning to snowboard, going to church again, cooking, cleaning, laundry and the like. Intermingled with all the details of living and teaching, I have been adjusting to living in a new place as well as living in a more extended family situation for the first time since I left home when I was eighteen.
And so on.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Kelly, Locket, Mom, Dad and I are driving from Leadville, Colorado to Buena Vista, after getting our driver's licenses changed. As we passed the sign for Buena Vista city limits, Mom said, "We're home!"
I don't think she meant a lot by her comment in any conscious way. However, her joyful exclamation registered in my consciousness as a meaningful moment of which to take note.
Mom had a home again.
We are part of that home.
I texted Anne: Mission Accomplished.
Three and half years ago, my mom had her second stroke. This one came 13 years after her first stroke and her recovery has been difficult for her, for dad and for our family. As her needs increased, we made the choice for Mom and Dad to go to the Assisted Living Community, where this little blog entry began. Mom didn't talk much over the last few years and had slipped into her inner world to a degree that we, as a family, were unsure if she was experiencing signs of dementia or if she had a more significant level of damage from the stroke than we had previously thought.
In the time she has been with us, her strength has steadily increased, her interest in life has returned and she is talking again-- telling stories, making jokes and laughing at herself and all of us. In more ways than I can list, she has come back to life.
More could certainly be said, but much of that is hers--and Dad's-- story to tell, not mine.
The story that I can tell is that life can, and often does, change on a dime. The day I sat in my car talking to my sister I had been planning on returning to Texas in the fall and getting back to business as usual after a summer season in the Colorado mountains. I had no plans for a big life change. I had not been planning on re-orienting my life and becoming an active participant in caring for my aging parents.
And yet, here I am.
And I am happier than I thought I would be in the change.
A few weeks ago, a visiting Episcopalian bishop came to our church and preached about Lazarus. He suggested that each one of is Lazarus in some way. Each one of us is breathing but not necessarily living, walking but not in freedom of choice--bound and blinded by habits of thought word and deed that keep us locked in a tomb of limitation--perceived or actual and making us ripe for transformation.
He also suggested that each one of us are the disciples saying that the journey is too dangerous. Each one of us is Mary, blaming God. And each one of us Martha, wanting to avoid what is smelly, unsightly and distasteful that must be faced in order to grow. And he also said, that in some way, each one of us can also connect to the power of Love that is Jesus in the story. Each one of us can be renewed, revived and (dare I say it?) resurrected in Love.
The story I can tell is that caring for my parents in this way has clearly been a good thing for them, for which I am super grateful. And our new arrangement has been a good thing for me also. In countless small and often seemingly insignificant ways, the change has breathed new life into my perspectives, has unbound areas of my own self-centeredness and has opened my eyes to a wider world of Loving. Love has called me out of a cave of comfort in to an arena of risk that holds its own reward in the process of living into it.
The thing about Love seems to be that it has the power to transform, not only those who receive it, but those who offer it. Being a part of someone's depression lifting, witnessing someone's sense of humor return, and providing a place that someone can call "home" is deep, meaningful and extraordinary territory to inhabit. Tender, precious, tough and worthwhile.
And don't even get me started on Easter.
And since many folks want to know a lot of specific things about the move so here goes--
All right, if you made it this far, I applaud you.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."