Monday, February 23, 2009

Journaling on the Plane

I didn't bring my laptop along, so I kept track of my thoughts in a journal over the weekend:

While on the plane, during the safety talk, I let my mind wander and wondered who I'd call if I knew the plane was going to crash or if it was being held hostage. I figured there'd be time for only one call... would I phone one of my kids? What could I possibly say that would make a significant long term difference? And what if I said the wrong thing and screwed them up accidently? Knowing their aversion to conversation, would it be a waste of breath? Is it fair to only call one of them?

Or should that call go to my mom? She'd at least talk to me. And she could give messages of love to the list I dictate. But would that be kind? One second she'd be talking to me, the next second I'm dead... how creepy a call would that be to receive? She might never recover.

And then I thought maybe it'd be a good thing to call my own home and leave a long message on the voice mail. Maybe it would be a comfort to someone to hear my voice again after I passed away. And they could save that recording and listen to it whenever they were lonely. And I would only say wise and positive things. Wisdom from the Grave, by Jane.


I did decide to stop at Shopper's Drug Mart to buy myself some new reading glasses before I left for the airport. But once I got there, I totally forgot what I was shopping for. I wandered around for 6 minutes then I left. The granny glasses that I ended up wearing went nicely with my granny-like memory.

Appropriately, the book I'd chosen to read while flying was The Summer of the Great Grandmother. The lady across the aisle and in front of me was reading "How to Read the Bible for all it's Worth" and the guy beside me was reading "The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Stixx"and drinking beer.

The book I was reading was the true story of what happened during the summer of 1970, when Madeleine L'Engle's extended family spent their annual two months at the family's vacation home in Connecticut (called Crosswick's). There were 4 generations together that summer; from her mother, aged 90 to her granddaughters ages 4 and 1.

Her mother had advanced senility, was dying and it was heartbreaking. L'Engle is an awesome, beautiful writer and I loved the way she shared her journey. SO very much of what she wrote plucked at my heartstrings... (thank you Carolyn for lending me this book. It was perfect.)

I have about 6 books on my night table ready to be read, and why I selected this one at this time, I don't know. But I couldn't have chosen a better one to prepare me for my weekend with Vern.

She was waiting for me at the airport, and while we were walking out from the terminal to her car, I asked, "So, how are things with your dad?"
She looked at me and smiled, "Wow. No small talk, eh? We're just going to get right at it?"
I think we were both crying before we left the parkade. And we continued to cry off and on over the following forty hours. Her mom passed away 18 months ago and her dad's descent into senility seemed to be as quick as my dad's. He is now in a nursing home where he has very little dignity.

It's all so hard, this business of aging and dying parents.

I said to Vern just before I left, that I sure hope on one of our future annual visits, we will spend the entire weekend laughing out loud. It would be such a new experience for us both.

The other aspect of the book that was timely for me, was near the end. A significant event happens and she (Madeleine) is not there, at Crosswick's, to handle it. She always handles everything; that's her role in the family. Instead, she had gone away for the weekend and her 18 year old son was left to deal with it all. She writes, "I wish I had been there. But if I had been home, my son would not have had this chance to make a leap in growth."

When I got the phone call about Drew's broken collar bone, you have no idea how much I wished I had been home. But if I had been, I wouldn't have received the call from Max, "Mom? Have you heard about Drew? I just wanted to make sure you knew. And if he wants to spent the night here, at home, I'll stick around tonight to keep an eye on him."

THAT was a leap for my Max. And it wouldn't have happened if I'd been at home. And I don't know if I would have completely appreciated it if I hadn't just read about Madeleine's son's big leap either.

Lastly, regarding the book, I loved the whole middle section where she shares the stories of her great, great grandparents. Those people were REAL to her. She knew them and they influenced her and shaped her. Not only did most of them live til they were in their 90's - they left behind letters. Letters! Correspondence. Writing. She knew what they thought, how they lived, who they loved, where they lived, what they believed. Amazing. I was in awe of that.

I am glad that I destroyed 25 years worth of journals, but I am determined to leave some writing behind (this blog?) so that future generations will get to know and love the people that I know and love.


Also from my journal, written on the plane:


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Drew cut back on his T3's today. We went to see our doctor and he reassured us about the miraculous way a body repairs itself after an injury like this.

2. I get to sleep in my own bed tonight. Last night Drew slept on one couch, I slept on the other, and I catered to him all night long. Every hour or so he needed something; a glass of water, another blanket, a fan, another pillow ...

3. I have another Madeleine L'Engle book from Carolyn to read. Looking forward to it.



Anonymous said...

My vote goes to the long message on the answering machine so that it could get posted to you tube like that professor's last lecture and instead of just your sons benefitting from it, the WHOLE WORLD would get it. Yeah. That's what I'm talking about!
You make me smile.

Anonymous said...

Glad you enjoyed her book so much. Not that it's my mission in life but I'm always happy to get another L'Engle fan on board!

On another note, John Stackhouse is giving a lecture this Friday at Regent and there's a midnight madness book sale happening too. Interested?