Geri-Antics: Making lemonade, a family tradition

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, May 23, 2024

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If you follow my social media blog or read my memoir (“Finding Joy: My Life as an Adoptee”), it is clear that neither of my two (adopted) grandmothers was the muse for a Norman Rockwell painting. Don’t get me wrong; both were good, hard-working, Christian women who were merely dealing with obstacles that Life and Karma had unexpectedly placed in their pathways in the best way they knew how. 

My maternal grandmother was an independent and strong-willed woman who determined shortly after my mother was born that she was more than capable of raising the child without the encumbrances of a philandering husband. She took the lemons life squirted in her eye and made lemonade, climbing the career ladder to the top rung of management at the local telephone company. 

My paternal grandmother was a farm wife who raised five rambunctious boys while her husband built most plank fences on area horse farms. She awoke six days a week before dawn, cooked a hot breakfast, and packed his big black metal lunchbox with home-cooked delicacies. One morning as her husband was pulling on his heavy work boots, he suffered a massive heart attack and her life changed forever.

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I’m on my third generation of child-rearing. Twenty-plus years after serving as the primary babysitter for my son’s two girls and my daughter’s son and daughter, those children now have children of their own and I am blessed to babysit my great-grandchildren. It should be called baby chasing. I and they rarely sit. 

I hope that I’ve given all three generations good memories during our time together; but as I’m currently learning, life has a way of forcing us to slow our roll. 

Merely a year ago I was gardening, mowing, obsessing about house cleaning, and able to keep up with even the most inquisitive toddlers. ‘Sit’ and ‘stay’ were not in my vernacular. I boasted (big mistake) that I was the healthiest member of the family.

I should’ve checked the bottoms of my feet or some other hidden location where I’m certain there must be an expiration date stamped because suddenly and without warning, body parts seem to have reached their sell-by date. 

Nearly every appliance I purchase now comes with a little USB cord to recharge some unknown (to me) power source. Someone more tech-savvy could inform me if there’s a charger for my knee that is refusing to bend and turn and is causing more pain than birthing either of my babies. 

After more than a month of bucking the system, ignoring the professionals, and pushing the limits so far that I managed to tear a ligament, I’ve been proven not nearly as wise nor independent as I purported to be. 

I’m now lying on my back, supported by pillows and ice bags, awaiting a very large needle to be inserted into my knee joint that will hopefully provide temporary relief from mind-numbing pain.

Oh, many, many of my contemporaries have traveled this path, but I thought I was going to be special and avoid the inevitable. I have, however, discovered that ‘necessity is (indeed) the mother of invention’. 

When you live alone and find yourself with an unplanned disability, you have no choice but to get creative in order to navigate even the simplest daily activities. In my case, there were days when I couldn’t walk without assistance, so I found that a sturdy dining room chair would support my weight and scoot along in front of me, as well as a walker. 

I became bored and a tad depressed, so one day I decided to paint my fingers and toes a cheery shade of pink. The only problem was, my knee wouldn’t bend and I couldn’t reach my toes. I quickly looked around me for a solution and saw one of my art brushes with a particularly long handle that worked brilliantly. 

That happened a week ago. The fuschia polish is chipping, so I’m looking for solutions to remove it. Thus far, the solution du jour is to wind rolls of gauze soaked in acetone around a spatula.

Before you ask why my children aren’t coming to my aid, let me assure you that they have been offered many times every day. I am stubborn, bull-headed, and hell-bent on proving my independence for as long as possible. 

My guardian angel is completely bald from pulling her hair out as I continue to buck the system to do so. 

I ask for prayers that the 30+ gauge needle that will be inserted into my knee joint tomorrow delivers relief and allows me the mobility I’ve enjoyed in the past. I’m beyond ready to chase the babies again and return to some semblance of normality, which is, well, normal for me.