Friday, January 01, 2010

Been developing whistlin' in the dark to a high art ... .

Climbing back into my own life is becoming more than a notion. The process lasts about as long as it takes to push the new reality of life with Dorian out of mind -- lasting only a few minutes at a time.

The feature article on the newly-designated national park at the Port Chicago Naval Weapons Station in USA Today which appeared in the December 26th edition -- brought added attention to me and to my work. It rustled up old acquaintances from the past back into consciousness; a good thing. Many from across the country who sent emails of good wishes were from Seniornet, an online cyber-community that came into my life with discovery of the Internet during the early Nineties. I was again reminded of the magic of the online experience -- where we developed such deep friendships which had absolutely no basis in reality. We'd actually never met in most cases, and yet we'd touched lives more meaningfully than one might ever imagine. I'd almost forgotten that, and of how much I learned to rely on those friendships at the time. I'm sure that it was out of that experience that this blog evolved. I can't imagine how it could have happened otherwise.

Visits 3 times-a-day to the nursing home where Dorian is slowly recovering have become a part of my routine now. Both legs are now in full recovery but won't be ready for weight-bearing rehab work for another four weeks. The left foot has dropped and shows little sign of life at all (which is frightening). The surgeon assures me that 8 months to a year of work will take care of those fears and that she will walk again. Having her situated about halfway between our offices and my apartment makes our visits work out well. She is content with brief 30 minute drop-ins before she's ready to get back into her own routine, so I can't claim hardship.

It's the emotional effects that continue to be so wearing; the systemic difficulties encountered daily in dealing with planning for succeeding weeks of rehabilitation that shred the days into bites too small to claim hardship over yet too knotty to move through in any kind of order or resolution.

I'm sensing that all those years of training that we worked so hard to achieve for "Life after Mom" have caved in on themselves, and we've both regressed to her early years before that painful lifelong process was either realized or begun; we're back somewhere around age 4. I've slipped effortlessly out of a very adult "Mom as best friend" into "Mom as written by Neil Simon or painted as a Normal Rockwell cover for the old Saturday Evening Post." So much for objectivity. I'm not sure that there's enough life left in which to recover from this dramatic dive into maternal excess.

Maybe by next week we'll have both recovered enough to reclaim some maturity.

I'm just about as ready as one can be for the new decade to begin.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Now for the job of getting back into the rhythm of my own life ...

...and that must take place soon, or I'll begin to waste away into merely existing. There is every reason to dig my fingernails into the accumulating muck and work my way back onto the planet. We've done it before so I know that the brain can handle what it must. I'm certain of it. That's one of the great things about aging. There is the ring of familiarity to it all, and the proof of one's ability to cope is right there in the mirror. As the inimitable Elaine Stritch said it musically, "I'm still here!"

Sometime this week a story in USA Today written by journalist Bill Welch will be published reminding me that I've done meaningful work and that the work is not yet completed. We did an interview sometime back before Thanksgiving featuring the announcement of Port Chicago Naval Weapon Station becoming the 392nd national Park. "It will run sometime after the Christmas holiday," his recent email stated.

Then there is the possibility of a way to begin to think about the restoration of the jazz and blues part of the World War Home Front story. Just before the holidays an idea for just how that might happen surfaced through two dear friends with deep and strong connections in the music scene. Their capacity to bring that into being is awesome -- one is a MacArthur Fellow with a great new book out that I'm planning to pass along to the other interpreters. The other two are professional classical musicians both members of the San Francisco Opera orchestra and the S.F. Symphony. One is the artistic director of a chamber music group. The potential for something really meaningful to be launched over this next year in that area is extremely high. I will connect them both with Jordan Simmons, artistic director for the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts here in Richmond, and then the Bay Area Blues Society of the East Bay. Maybe drummer E.B. Wainwright and S.F Jazz Festival's Josh Redman? A move into this area of park development is a natural and I'm the common denominator here -- the one who can ignite the spark for this new edge by bringing these artists together to brainstorm ... .

Though it's hard to admit aloud -- there is an element of security in knowing where Dorian is and that she is safe. I've experienced little of that in my lifetime. It dawned on me last night as I lay awake listening to the rain against the windows, that I am finally sleeping again and no longer careening through the mountains toward Willits and Highway 101 in my 3-D nightmare. As regretful as it is, there is some comfort in knowing that she is making her peace with life as it unfolds; that she's building what joy she can from the sparse materials available to her; that she continues to find purpose and caring in her days despite the physical discomfort she's experiencing.

2010 will be a long year of recovery for us both. I'll have to work hard to not feel guilty about my own good fortune in the face of the slow road back for her. But I also am certain that some of her resilience is dependent upon the signals coming from me. If I can manage to keep enough balance in my own life so that there is enough positive energy to share with her, then we will both survive and prosper.

Now I'm off to deliver more skeins of colorful yarn to enable her work to go on. Of the 23 staff members at the nursing home, she has 17 projects to go. And -- she's undaunted by numbers, or is her mother.