Friday, August 20, 2010

The Last Time

I remember the last time I stepped into my childhood home. The furniture was gone and I knew that an era was over. I walked through the house. I tried to soak in each room, absorbing the feeling each one. I remembered what it was like to hear my father laugh. It was over. I walked away, locked the door and knew it was the last time. I wrote that message on my heart and my head.

Last times happen all the time. I don’t always know that I’m living a ‘last time.’ Of course, I remember the last time I was in each of my schools. Graduation punctuates the experience and draws the line that must be crossed; the last time.

Sometimes the most important ‘last times’ happen without ceremony. I don’t remember the last time I nursed a baby. I don’t know the last time I picked up one of my children and held her in my arms. It sneaked past me and was gone. The treasured feeling of holding a child in my arms and providing comfort. It went unnoticed, unannounced. The last night both my daughters slept in my house. I didn’t know that summer was the last summer I’d have both my girls with me.

I didn’t know.

I would have absorbed the moment. I would have stayed up 5 minutes more to soak up the sounds of their laughter.

I didn’t know.

There was a last hug from my father, a last conversation, a last smile. When was the last time we sat and laughed? It slipped past me and I couldn’t appreciate it. I would have hung on longer. I would have tried to memorize the feeling. I guess I always thought there would be more.

I didn’t know.

I have learned that ‘last times ‘ sneak into your life. It can take years to notice, or just seconds. My last conversation with my mom; the last time I could recount the events of my day, is a mystery to me. The last time, Grace smiled at me and said something relevant, selfless or supportive. I know it’s gone, but when did it leave? When was exact last moment? Where were we? Why didn’t I savor it?’

I just did not know.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Perils of Communication

I have a pet peeve. If I ask for someone to repeat something, I can guarantee you it’s because I did not hear you. If I ask a question about what someone said, then you can be sure it’s because it wasn’t clear to me or I only heard part of it.

Around here, that happens a lot. Grace doesn’t process what she hears well and is equally poor at communicating. The caregiver does not speak English as her first language and sometimes the accent trips me up. When she says something to either me or Grace, if asked to repeat, she will not.

Caregiver: “Grace, do you want to go to bed?”
Grace: “What?”
Caregiver: “bed.”

If I ask her to repeat anything I get the same treatment.

Caregiver: "I didn't see the mailman yet today."
Me: "What?"
Caregiver: "mail"
Me: "huh?"

I can easily picture this.

Caregiver: "There's a fire in the kitchen!"
Me: "What?"
Caregiver: "kitchen"

Evidently this is a one-time only deal. If you don’t hear it the first time, the repeat is a super abbreviated version of what passed you by in the first place.

I particularly love it when I ask Grace what she said, and the caregiver feels compelled to answer. When she does “interpret” what Grace said, Grace chooses to repeat herself so instead of getting clarification, I get chaos.

“I didn’t hear either of you.”

Another endearing quality of the caregiver is her drive to become a mime. My dog had a spot on his back that bothered him. He was biting at it. Instead of telling me, she felt compelled to act it out. Not once, but several times.

She must be killer at charades.