Sunday, April 12, 2015

Special Just for Me

Me & Chester, contemplating the medicinal value of these 'shrooms.
Did you know that springtime weather actually has medicinal properties? I'm emerging from a very serious and humbling bout of influenza, trying to regain my former level of physical strength after losing about 8 or 9 pounds, and still struggling with the aftermath of being treated with antibiotics for a secondary bacterial sinus infection, bronchitis, and laryngitis. This is the sickest I've been since the night my boys were born at 32 weeks because I had full on Listeria sepsis. Whew! In the process I've discovered that Atlanta's beautiful sunny blue skies and crisp morning air are the best remedy for lifting my spirits. It's as if each day since my illness is being served up by Mother Nature, special just for me. Even the rainy days are spectacular. Maybe I'm more acutely aware of Nature's offerings right now because of having recently been so sick. Regardless, I've certainly enjoyed being active outside, taking in all the amazingly colorful and fragrant blooms.

Birds do it, bees do it. Apparently, lady bugs do it, too.
Yesterday, I think I must have walked about 7 or 8 miles. After breakfast with Spartacus at Radial Café, I walked over to Chester's house, about half a mile down the road. Chester has very short legs and I'm a fast walker, so we sort of had to find our mutual pace. He knows pretty much every nook and cranny of Kirkwood, and our walk turned into more of an exploration. We ended up in the Kirkwood Urban Forest, which was marshy and swamp-like after the previous day's torrential rain. Both of us got quite dirty and muddy. We saw billowy white puffball shrubs, tiny purple ice flowers, canopies of lavender wisteria, strangely knotted tree trunks, and these two ladybugs getting it on. As we walked, we talked about so many things. The topics we covered went from mental illness to our relationships with our parents to parenting adult children, and ended with a discussion of what it means to be empathetic. In the meantime, Spartacus texted to say he was picking up some sandwiches at the neighborhood deli. I asked him to please pick up a turkey reuben on rye for Chester and a green veggie wrap with sriracha veganaise for me. Yum!

What a day for a daydream, custom-made for these daydreamin' boys.
Famished and a little sweaty after our long morning of exploration and conversation, Chester and I high-tailed it back to my house for a picnic lunch in the park. While waiting for Spartacus, Chester and I sipped cold cucumber mint water, munched on grapes, and continued our conversation. He is excited about a new lady friend, and I couldn't be happier for him. She lives out of state, in the town where they both grew up, and he's going to be visiting her soon. Hopefully, she'll come down here and I'll get to meet her in person. 

Spartacus arrived with the sandwiches, a bag of blue corn chips, and some cold drinks. I packed those into a cooler, along with the rest of the grapes and some lemon hummus, grabbed a big blanket, and we all walked down to the park across the street to enjoy our little feast. I found a shady spot for us to sit, but after lunch, we decided the shade was a little too cool. So, Chester pulled our blanket beneath the gently shining sun and a lazily soaring hawk, and we stretched ourselves out for a post-prandial nap. It was positively heavenly.

As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, the day before yesterday was one massive thunderstorm. In the evening, the rain was so bad that the Atlanta airport was closed to all incoming flights, which meant that our dinner plans with my friend, Bryan, who was flying in from Chicago for a weekend conference, were off because his plane was diverted to Birmingham. Quel dommage! 

Jerney & Mom, staying dry inside the aquarium
Earlier that morning, my mom and my niece, Jerney, made the perilous trek from Acworth to Atlanta so we could visit the Georgia Aquarium. It started out a little rough. Because of the storms, Mom's drive had been treacherous and slow, and we were over an hour late for our scheduled ticket time. We'd forgotten about the fact that this week was spring break. Needless to say, the aquarium was literally a sardine can, packed full of throngs of people, making it difficult to navigate and quite anxiety-producing to boot. Mom's had bilateral knee replacements and now walks with a cane.  I was surprised that there really wasn't any decent handicapped parking close to the facility, so Mom did a lot more walking than she's used to. Getting a wheelchair would have been an option, but the place was so crowded and frenetic, we decided to see a few exhibits, and then return to my neighborhood for a quiet lunch. Initally, Jerney wasn't enthralled with the idea of anything other than fast food. But, by the time we got to the little café, the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to peek out from the clouds, so we got a table outside. I'm pleased to report that Jerney ate every bite of her grilled cheese sandwich. 

I've thought a lot about my mom since then. For the past several years now, her life has revolved around the care of this sweet little girl because my brother, Jerney's father, has been in and out of prison. Jerney adores her grandma and is extremely attached to her. In many ways, my mom has been the only real constant in her life. She is definitely Jerney's primary source of stability. Mom doesn't have to do the things she's done for Jerney, my brother, or Jerney's mother. I think it's what she wants to do, and maybe also what she feels she needs to do. Personally, I think she qualifies for sainthood. 

My mom, the first love of my life (L: me, center, my sister, Emi)
Last weekend, which happened to be Easter, Mom expressed feeling disappointed that she hadn't been invited by any of us for Easter dinner. Because Spartacus and I aren't religious, we don't celebrate Easter. In fact, I had completely forgotten that it was Easter. In her email, Mom said she needs to feel special sometimes. In other words, she needs to be reminded of it. This is something I don't really struggle with in life, because my sense of feeling special is internally generated as opposed to coming from an external source. Anyway, after observing Mom and Jerney during our time together on Friday, admiring how tenderly and spontaneously she kissed Jerney's head and bare shoulder, it was very clear to me just how special she is. I remember Mom's kisses, too, and how I reveled in her undivided attention. I wish she could fully realize the impact she's made, but I can certainly help in reminding her. She was, and still is, the first love of my life, special just for me.