Saturday, July 2, 2011

The days of vines and roses.....

      You can approach life in one of two ways: either with a sense of gloom, despair, and sadness or with a sense of humor and a feeling of relief that at least you've made it this far.  Life can come at you hard and fast, but if you face all the challenges with a little laughter, it certainly eases the strain.  Things happen that are out of our control, and it always feels like once that downward spiral of tragedy starts, it gains momentum and gets bigger and bigger as it tries to pull you down with it. The only way to survive is to find something strong and steady to cling to, and with a sense of hope and awe, a lot of prayer and a little laughter, you can get through it and start the uphill climb toward normal once again.
     For our family,  the downward spiral started on Memorial Day.  Within a period of two weeks, my mother had fallen and broken her hip, a close friend's son had died, our beloved Aunt Virginia had gone home to glory, and french class was in full swing. It was, may I please say, a bit stressful, but through it all, we held on to our faith and found peace and hope and reasons to laugh.
     The broken hip was just the beginning, occurring on the first day of class. On this particularly hot May afternoon, my mother decided to do a little weeding and deadheading while waiting for us to arrive home from school. Dad had warned her to stay out of the 98 degree heat and to wait until our return, but when he fell asleep in his lift-off recliner, she slipped out of the house and headed to her flower bed. 
      Things were going well in the garden until she spied a muscadine vine strangling her climbing Queen Elizabeth rose. The woody vine had crept up the arbor and was clinging to the thorny canes of the old rose, and if it didn't come down, the rose would soon be consumed by the invasive plant.  Mama wrapped her hands around the muscadine, determined to free her delicate rose, and with a determined yank, gave it a pull.  It was a game of tug-o-war between Mama and the vine, both sides holding on and pulling for dear life, but that sinewy old vine finally snapped, and when it did, it shot Mama back like a pebble out of a sling shot.  She hit the ground hard, with a solid thud, and realized right away that the vine was not the only thing that had snapped.
   For two hours, Mama lay stranded in the hot Carolina sun, desperately calling "Help!" When we finally found her, it was obvious that the ambulance ride to the hospital would not be for a quick patch-up job. 
      As they loaded her onto the back board, I told the ambulance drivers what had happened, that Mama had gotten into the muscadine vine and taken a bad fall.
     "Has she been drinking for long?" they asked.
      I was puzzled for a moment, and then started laughing.
      "VINE! I said muscadine VINE, not WINE!"
       I could tell they didn't believe me until I picked up the broken tendril of the vine and shook it under their noses.
      It was a long ride to the hospital, and an even longer twenty-four wait until surgery.
       Let me tell you something. Post-anesthesia conversations can be pretty darn funny.  When they wheeled Mama back into the room after her hip replacement, she was  in la-la land and feeling fine, a much needed break after the last twenty-four hours of pain she had endured.
    "Mama," we all started at once, "Mama, you're back in the room. You did fine in surgery. You have a brand new hip!"
    "Well, that's nice." she murmured. "Isn't that wonderful?" Those were definitely NOT the same words she had been muttering pre-surgery.
      We decided to have a little fun while she was in her post-surgical land of delusions, and in that sick way of finding release in the midst of trauma, we also needed to laugh.
     "Mama, we all wanted them to put in a gold hip, but Daddy said that was too expensive. Said he'd only pay for plastic, it would work just fine, but we made him splurge for titanium"
      "Well,  sounds just like him,"  she declared, having a sudden moment of clear-headedness in her anesthetic delusion.
     For the next several days, we travelled with her around the world, visiting strange creatures, venturing through magical doors and boxes and windows, and talking to invisible beings. It was a side of Mama we had never seen, a loopy, drunken, foggy-headed version, and although it was a little disturbing to listen to her drug-induced ramblings, it was in a weird sense also quite funny. We encouraged her anesthetic delusions with great gusto, and with a cathartic sense of sick humor, laughed our way back to normal. It was the only way we knew how to survive as we helped Mama heal, buried loved ones, and still made it to french class each day.
     She quickly bounced back, became the queen of rehab, and within two weeks was back home and safely ensconced in the matching lift-off recliner that Dad had purchased for her while she was in the hospital.  Side-by-side, they could now sit together and look out the window at a garden that had been completely purged of all vines and climbing tendrils, a vase of Queen Elizabeth roses sitting prettily on the table beside them.

No comments:

Post a Comment