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. 


  1. I see you have been both whipped and rejuvenated by Nature. I am glad you recovered from the vicious viral compound you were infested with. But it spurred you to appreciate the air and the skies. Carry on walking, Kris!

    1. So much for the flu shot this year! I think I jinxed myself by telling someone that I never get sick about a week before I fell ill.

  2. Hi Kris, thanks for sharing your blog on FB! I enjoy reading your ideas and experiences as well as your photographs to illustrate.

    Glad you're feeling better. I think you are right, it's amazing what good weather can do for health. I remember reading somewhere that doctors would tell sick patients to visit the ocean or the mountains when they were sick. I can't remember where I read that, but it stuck out in my mind because I grew up on the ocean and often miss the healing air.

    Your mom sounds wonderful. I wonder how many similarities she would share with my grandmother. She was pretty incredible in a lot of different ways.

  3. My mum is the only person I know who sends Easter cards, I'd never even considered it.
    But I usually get a cheque, so I'm not making too much of an atheistic protest.

  4. Kris, what a lovely day you and Chester had! All our days should be like that, full of warmth and sunshine and friendship and laughter. So happy you're feeling better so you could get out and enjoy it all. Spring officially started yesterday with the first nice weather since November. Today it's hot, almost 80, and feels more like summer. It's been a smooth transition from San Diego since I've been able to spend the entire day outdoors, walking around the lake and running into people who all seem to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The great thing is seeing all the people out in the sun having fun. It's all so lively, inspiring and cheerful.

  5. Kris-what a beautiful blog! My husband too got hit with Flu A and B and was so sick (with secondary bacterial infection as well) and we both got the flu vaccine. Oh well! So glad you are recovering and enjoying a beautiful spring. I could almost feel myself in your adventures, as your writing is so very good.
    Your mother is a very special lady and I truly hope she can realize how much she means to you and the rest of her family. What a gift!
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. The season of spring always makes me feel rejuvenated. Kris, I’m glad you’ve recovered from that nasty flu and the equally nasty sinus infection! I know after a bad bout of serious illness like that it takes a while to get one’s physical strength back. There really is something special about being in tune with Mother Nature. What an excellent springtime walk you had with Chester. Just to walk with a friend like that discussing any and every topic is really wonderful, I remember friends like that. All the best to him with his new lady friend! Like the photo of those daydreamin’ boys, Spartacus and Chester, and you and Chester with those bright red ‘shrooms! Great shot of the lady bugs getting it on (which reminded me of the Marvin Gaye song “Let’s Get It On” and he sang that like no other. So I had to go to youtube and play the song LOL!)

    Nice photo of your mother with Jerney (she is so cute!). The way she loves and cares for Jerney and provides stability in her life is truly beautiful. Not everyone would be so giving even to a family member (I know, our maternal grandparents abandoned us when my mother was hospitalized when we were kids). Sweet photo of you, your sister and your mother. I can understand and relate to your mother needing to feel special sometimes. I think perhaps all the love and attention she gave to her children may be one of the reasons why you are such a self-assured and accomplished individual today. Having not known much of that I can say it really does makes a difference. This is what she’s giving Jerney and that is a very special gift. I’d like to recommend your mother for double sainthood! Excellent post, Kris, and glad you’re feeling better. Spring has finally arrived here too.

  7. glad you had a wonderful day with chester and your husband. it's great that you recovered from influenza. 7 or 8 miles! that's amazing!
    i am especially touched by your relationship with your mother. she must feel good to know that she is the first love in your life, and it's more touching that you can constantly remind her how she is loved.

  8. Sounds like a beautiful way to spend a few hours. And a great way to celebrate getting over the dreaded lurgy.

  9. Glad you are feeling better Kris, I am just getting over the Flu myself and feeling wonderful at being almost back to normal.

    I am also not religious, but love celebrating Easter with chocolate Easter eggs, and tend to celebrate pretty much every holiday I can in the same way. Halloween chocolates, Christmas chocolates etc etc. Good times.

  10. Moms are the greatest ! ! :-)

    And I second the nomination for your mom's sainthood :-)

    Appreciate a mom today !