Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Smile for Noelle

"I want to watch Anastasia, Mimi! Please!"
"Just a moment, Hannah, let me finish feeding Gaga." Noelle sighed. There was never a moment of peace. Not even on her birthday.
She ignored the hurt. No one remembered it was her birthday. Not even Mom.
"But I want to watch it now." whined the four-year-old.
Her only grandchild was not known for patience. With a frustrated groan, Noelle gave into the demand and tossed the spoon back into the cooling mashed potatoes. Mom would have to wait for her next bite, not that she would notice.
Noelle quickly put in the requested video, wondering how many times one child could watch a single movie. Apparently one more time. If watching an animated movie on repeat kept the girl entertained, then maybe Noelle could get Mom settled and finish wrapping the Christmas gifts.
Mission accomplished, Noelle turned to see her mother sitting unmoved in her seat. A vacant stare settled into the familiar hazel eyes. The vibrant, intelligent and fiercely independent woman who had raised Noelle alone was gone. Alzheimer's had stolen the woman she knew and loved and missed terribly, leaving a shell which required constant care.
She could rely on no one else to provide that care. There was no other family and the thought of a nursing home made her shudder. Mom's body was as frail as her mind. In addition to the vacant eyes and lack of mobility, Mom's thin arms were tightly locked into her chest. Any attempts to move or position the arms were met with angry, non-verbal cries of pain and resistance. One occupational therapist had suggested giving Mom a soft baby doll to hold. The suggestion was worth trying, after all Mom had worked in the church nursery for over fifty years.
Now was as good a time as any. Noelle looked past Hannah to a pile of toys. No baby dolls there. Then she remembered; Santa was bringing Hannah a special doll and it sat at the top of the closet. With the child engrossed in the movie, she would never know one of her presents was being used in an experiment.
"Here you go, Mom. Here's your baby."
She looked toward the voice, but the face of a kind woman was blurred. She must be the nurse.
A baby? Yes. After all of the waiting, she had a child to hold. It seemed like yesterday that she and Jethro said their vows, followed by goodbye a few days later. A uniformed man returned a few months ago to report Jethro's death on a French battlefield. His baby would make up for his loss. Now she finally held that baby in her arms.
A baby birl. She felt her angel Jethro stand over her shoulder, viewing her Christmas present from him. She was so blessed.
Noelle turned at the unexpected sound of her name. The readiness which Mom had accepted the doll surprised her. The withered arms had taken the toy without resistance. She had  watched her mother relax and begin to rock in her seat, cradling the doll to her like a real infant.
Now, she witnessed a look of pure joy transform the normally blank face. What could possibly be going through that lost mind? "Mom?"
Teary eyes turned toward her. "Baby."
"Yes, Mom, that's your baby." The experiment seemed to be successful. Now Noelle needed to find the money to replace the Hannah's Santa gift. With three days left to Christmas, that would be no easy task. Finances were tight and shopping while caring for a young child and an elderly parent was next to impossible. Yet there was no way she was going to take the doll from her mother.
"Baby Noelle."
A bright smile, accompanied by a tear, lit her mother's wrinkled face as she continued to rock her doll.
Noelle stood with tears coursing down her face as she realized that maybe Mom remembered her birthday after all.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Grave Digger

Yesterday promised to be a great day, but deserves a do-over from the get-go.
Yesterday the rabbit died.
No, not that rabbit. Our last remaining pet rabbit, Lil Joe. He was an adorably soft mini rex who lived to the ripe old age of 5. That's good for a small, long-eared rodent. He was Myrtle the Younger's baby. With that said, I can honestly say I am thrilled to be out of the bunny care business. Give me a dog any day (just not one that yaps incessantly).
My day started in its usual manner (moaning, groaning, ignoring the alarm, etc) and I dragged my lazy carcass out of bed to find Lil Joe in early stages of rigor mortis. Yippee. Fortunately it was a Saturday. Unfortunately it was a busy Saturday during the Christmas season. I sent a quick text to a friend I was supposed to meet for breakfast and set about informing Myrtle the Younger of the family tragedy and finding a coffin for said bunny (a toner box worked really well). In the meantime MTY decides that her pet needs to be buried with his sister, Livvy, and his older Californian brother, Macamacadon (I didn't name these rabbits) on Mimi's property. Okay, I didn't plan a 3 hour road trip today, but no biggie.
So, I continue with the established plan of the day which included a Christmas tea at our church with Mimi, following which Myrtle and I picked up the coffin and drove down to Mimi's to conduct an appropriate burial. We stopped for dinner, where I got out of my car and promptly rammed my shin into the trailer hitch extending about 18 inches from the back a big ass truck. Only a few curse words were delicately thrown into the universe.
We eventually proceeded to the farm. By then it was dark, so we chose a burial site close to where the house lights could help us out. Now we are talking about a Texas evening in early December here: dark, chilly, windy, digging in thick Texas black clay soil. After chiseling for a moment, we hit what I think is a bed liner that my mother or grandmother had used in the old flower bed. I was incorrect.
Out of 50 acres, we had to dig in the spot that Miss Hissy was  buried. Yea! I can hear that damn cat hissing at me from beyond the grave.
So, we cover up the cat, move a few feet over and proceed to chisel and scrape our way to a barely deep enough grave to cover one toner box stuffed with bunny. Task complete. I hurt but nothing that a bucket of pain meds can't help.
On a good note, on the drive home, Myrtle got to experience a Christmas classic, Santa Claus and His Old Lady by Cheech and Chong.
Let the holidays commence!