Wednesday, August 13, 2014

living room floor picnics

The summer is winding down.

For us, anyway.

That official sign that signifies the ending of summer--school--will start in less than two weeks, and our summer freedom will be over.

Even as I write this I feel a stab of sadness mixed with the anticipation of loneliness and anxiety in my heart. That first week without them home is always the hardest. Getting used to a new routine is never fun. And I always have a few regrets as I look back at the 10 weeks we had off. Did we do enough? (I have this idea in my mind that my kids will do school work all summer so that they will retain the information they learned over the previous school year. However. I am a terrible, terrible mother who follows through with this plan for the first two and a half weeks, then lets an unruly set of siblings take over, and the remainder of the summer no pencil nor paper is seen within the confines of these walls. We did go to the science museum, though, so that's something.)

This summer, I had one goal (okay, I had more than one goal, but I had a goal in particular), and that was to take a picnic lunch to my 90-year-old grandmother's house and have a picnic on her living room floor. Well, we would be on the floor. She would sit on the couch. One goal. And I have failed. Miserably.

I've always had a great relationship with my grandma. She's the one who I would call after a fight with my mom, or when I wanted to run away from home because everyone was being mean or boring, or when I just needed to talk. She would take me shopping for clothes and listen as I would drone on and on about this cute boy or that mean girl. When I was little, she would play silly games with me for hours. She was one of my biggest advocates and supporters. She knew me. She got me.

But after my grandfather died in 1998, things changed. And over the years since then, her mind has slowly decided it likes living in the past better than the right now, and sometimes it won't let her out of it's iron-like grip of what I call slight dementia. Some people might call it crazy, but I'd never say that about my own grandma.

But sometimes she doesn't want to change out of her same housecoat that she's been wearing for days, and sometimes undergarments aren't her friend, which exposes a little too much cleavage when she bends down (if you know what I mean), and sometimes it's about 85 degrees in her house and I start sweating under my armpits which is just unsightly, and sometimes she doesn't watch her language around my kids, and sometimes she's a little too frank about sex, which is just uncomfortable for all parties on the listening end. And sometimes she doesn't want to stop talking about the same thing, and sometimes she asks the same question that you've already answered a dozen times.

Sometimes there is so much family drama that you don't know which way is up because you are drowning in it.

And sometimes I just avoid the whole mess altogether.

I've had wonderful intentions. Doesn't a picnic sound nice? But I've been busy with classes and running my kids around this town, plus they've had friends over, plus we had the whole lice debacle (a pest we are free from, thank the Lord), plus we had several vacations, plus we had pink eye, plus it seems like every single night of the week we've had something to go to, plus I've had laundry and cleaning to take care of.

All very good excuses.

But the only message she's getting is that her granddaughter is way too busy to take the time to come see her. At all.

It's been months. Literally months since I've been up to see her.

Yes, I feel ashamed. My busy schedule shouldn't come before someone I love, especially someone who has been one of my biggest supporters. Sometimes I look at myself and wonder what happened to me.

When did I become someone who doesn't care?

Take care of widows...
{1 timothy 5:3}

A fine job I'm doing.

Life has a way of pulling at you from 1,000 different directions, and if we aren't careful, we'll end up stretched too thin, with a wild gleam in our eyes and our hair standing on end. (This isn't a good look for me.) Learning what to say yes to and what to say no to is a fine art. But I know my grandma isn't going to be around forever, and while I waste my time coming up with excuses for why I haven't been to see her, she is sitting in her house, watching TV for company.

I'm looking at my week, knowing that it's going to be difficult, if not impossible, to fit in a visit. I'm looking at next, wondering if I can put the bathrooms off one more day while I put my grandma's living room floor picnic ahead of what I need to get done.

She used to tell me that the dirt will be still waiting when I get home from living life, and I think she's right. Dirt never stays away for long. Ten years from now, the house and the dirt and the laundry will still be here.

But she won't. Time for a picnic, wouldn't you say?

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