Last week I was able to come out of my fourteen-day quarantine that kept me from caring for my grandson, Baker. It resulted from being in the nursing home with my mother the last two days of her life. While she didn’t have COVID-19, nor did any other residents, my son and daughter-in-law felt it was the safest thing to do since I’d been in a high-risk area. Besides possibly exposing Baker, my daughter-in-law, Emily is pregnant and we’re all being very careful.
Those days were very quiet as I sheltered-at-home without the usual two, and sometimes three days, of being with my exuberant little two-year-old grandchild. But while I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be with him, I knew I needed time for silence and rest. I felt the sadness of losing Mama and needed time to grieve. We also had to work through the details of her funeral so it would be a proper tribute in the midst of the pandemic. Each day of the week before her service, I found myself thinking of her last hours, rewinding those scenes by her bedside. The work of grief is tiring and I required an afternoon nap to make it through each day.
The silence of my house and the pattern I’d established of going out very little, allowed me to be a recluse and restore my energy.
In the second week, with Mama’s beautiful service behind us, I needed to pour myself into activity. I used my energy to clean out our house and pack boxes. Soon, we would be meeting with a realtor to put our home on the market. As much as I missed Baker, I knew I needed to work hard and fast to get the job done.
At Mama’s service, I shared in the eulogy about her journey over the past eight years at Parkview– her final earthly chapter. When I was packing those boxes, I kept thinking of Mama as she’d been years ago– able to move about freely, playing with her grandkids, working in her yard. I thought about how she’d gone forward to her new life, and in the act of packing boxes, I was in the process of moving on to mine.
Now that it’s Memorial Day weekend, I remember when I was a school nurse and how this time of year signaled the final wind up of tasks in preparation for summer break. One especially hard school year, I was so tired of all the tasks of finishing up and excited about my solo journey to Jekyll Island, Georgia. I describe that in Chapter IV, “Child’s Play,” of my memoir, He Heard My Voice. During my time there I re-experienced the things I loved as a girl: riding my bike, swimming in the hotel pool, reading on a porch during a summer storm.
What stands out as I remember that journey, is how that time of tasks was followed by joy that came from going back to my childhood.
This past week, after my fourteen days of quarantine from Baker, I was back to days of being immersed in life from a two-year-old perspective. He kept me hopping from checking the birdhouse for evidence of a new nest, to putting together his favorite monkey puzzle.
He delighted in making jello. He loves that it “wiggles and jiggles” and tastes good since he likes strawberry flavor. He enjoys cooking, and was eager to stir the cup of cold water into the dish, saying “Baker do it!” He experiences the world by touching everything, and once it was ready, he kept placing his hands on the “cool” jello.
Baker exercised my imagination as we played pretend with my cloth bluebird. He said, “bird fly out!” remembering a chickadee rushing toward us when we opened the door, that squatter in our birdhouse that was intended for bluebirds.
When the sun finally made an appearance on Friday, he loved kicking the soccer ball in the park with Grammy. He stopped to examine the fire hydrant, fascinated by the chain and the sound of hitting it against the metal of the hydrant. He connected it to his fire engine and said “Move out the way. Fire engine coming through!”
Baker likes to call out to Alexa on his kitchen counter, “Lexa, play Barbra Ann” because he wants to hear that song by the Beach Boys. He’s liked it since I first sang it to him when he was making a “Ba” sound when he was a little fellow. He holds up his arms and says, “Grammy hold” and wants me to get him into dance position like I’ve done since long before he weighed 33 pounds. We laugh as I twirl him around and we sing to the music.
Laughing, Singing, Dancing. Something I haven’t done with a dance partner in a very long time.
Dancing in my sock feet by myself in my living room just isn’t as much fun as with a partner. Dancing with Baker reminds me of how deeply I’ve missed twirling to the music with the men at the Swing and Texas 2-Step dances.
I can only manage holding my precious 33 pound partner for a short while before I have to put him down. But even a short while of dancing with my grandson has sparked my joy, and my assurance that eventually, I’ll be able to dance again. Being with him has returned that joy to me that helps to open my eyes to possibility.
I’m grateful for my two weeks of quiet and rest followed by my return to the energy and joy of keeping Baker. It’s a reminder that child’s play is the natural balance to the weighty burdens of adult cares.
How About You?
What are the things you loved as a child? Is there a child you enjoy being with now?
Is there a way to bring childlike play and wonder into your life to balance the weight of adult cares?
Would love for you to read my chapter on “Child’s Play at Jekyll Island,” as well as all the other chapters. Here’s your link for purchase: