Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When I was a kid my mother, who was a hairdresser before I was born and right after,  would go to the nursing home next to our church building on some Saturdays to wash and set ladies’ hair. I loathed going. I mean hated it so badly that even my tube socks would sag with dread when it was time to spend a precious Saturday morning at a nursing home beauty parlor. Aside from after school for an hour, and educational programming on PBS, Saturday morning was my only chance to watch real cartoons on TV. We didn’t have a way to record anything, there were no cartoon channels, and there definitely were no handheld video devices available and affordable for a lower middle class family, so Saturday morning was my chance to sleep late and watch cartoons. I remember still wearing my pajamas when the Charles Chip delivery truck brought potato chips to our door during Fat Albert. He came just before lunch so we had chips with our fried bologna sandwiches and Kool-aid. The nursing home facility was built in an “H” shape with the cross bar facing the street with the main front door. The beauty parlor was located in the crossbar section in the front of the building. Sometimes my sister and I were allowed to go outside to the grass patches in front of the beauty parlor windows where Mama could still see us. I remember being so bored that I would be numb. We would ramble around in the bushes, or hunt for pebbles to use as chalk to write on the sidewalk. Sometimes we would just lie down in the grass and look up at nothing, so bored that we were too lazy to even imagine the clouds as puppies or trees. If we couldn’t or wouldn’t go outside I would sit in the dryer seats and read a Highlights book or draw on plain paper with an ink pen. If the parlor got too crowded, we could go across the hall to the cafeteria and bang on the piano, or we could try to watch TV in the TV room, but if an old person came in we would just leave so that we didn’t have to talk to them or help them find a tissue. Our main effort was laying low, wishing the time would pass and hoping that we would not be asked to help. If we didn’t cause a ruckus and bring attention to ourselves, we might make it through the morning without helping an old person find her lotion or push a wheelchair down to the TV room. But, with each lady that Mama would fetch for a wash and set, and return to her room, we would have to look at pictures on the wall, or fill up a water pitcher or find the backscratcher. It was excruciatingly boring. Sometimes to top off a morning at the nursing home doing hair, my mom would follow up with a trip to Kroger. Scratch my eyeballs out with a fork and dig my fingernails out with a dull knife, I was so bored! Of course, now, I know how important that volunteer work was, and hate that I wasn't more of a pleasant and involved kid. I’ve been so impressed with the willingness of people, especially kids, to visit St. Jude and Eli. Though all along I have been painting St. Jude in the background of my posts, I want to make sure that I am clear about how hard everyone there works to make it feel bright and happy. There are some sad situations there no doubt, but if you are ever in Memphis don’t be afraid to stop by the hospital and just see what it is like. The kids and I made it to Memphis after lunch today (Tuesday), still later than I wanted, nevertheless. We had a kind of change of plans. It turns out the camp I wanted the girls to go to is full, so we are on a waiting list. With the possibility now of staying longer, I called the RV park that I had visited and they had a “cabin” open for 11 days, so we are giving it a try before we commit to the month of July if they have something open then, and, so far so good. It is Jellystone RV Park in Horn Lake, Mississippi. It is kind of new, and very clean. The cabin has a loft, so the girls were excited to sleep like the Little House On The Prairie gals. Eli’s count is down to 1600, and he had another unsatisfactory pulmonary testing, which they are attributing to one of the chemo drugs. Don’t know what that means beyond that. He still ate some bites today, but literally maybe four. Vic and Eli came to visit us this evening and we all had dinner together in our cabin, and they ALL played on the playground together. After such a sweltering day, it was cool and shady, and it was a collection of moments that we wanted to run in a continual loop, like an old 45 record that skips and plays the same collection of notes over and over. The kind of plain moments that are special because they are not really. It was heartbreaking to tell Eli he had to go and separate from us. It was tough for Vic to tell him that they had to go back to Target House so he could hook him up to his feeding bag, and give him all his medicines. He hated so to do it, and I could see he was struggling with telling him, so I had to do it for him. It’s hard for Vic to be the bad guy because he’s just not. But, tomorrow Eli is going to play hooky from school and we are going to the zoo in the morning all together. I wanted to include a couple of pictures from today, but the server here is slower than Hannah Grace taking a shower, so it keeps giving up before it can download it to the blogger site. I'm lucky, I've got this one to show.

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