This is a difficult season for my Mom, The Nannie, Matriarch of the Allen clan. First of all it's winter, which messes with arthritis and other bone and connective tissue ailments that settle into elderly bodies. The bones sit there, happy in heat and certain barometric pressures, functioning well and pretending to be 30 years old until the weather changes. Then they whine, cry and even scream and rage, "No, No, I'm old and delicate and have been through so much in my lifetime that you can't even imagine! Remember when you fell riding that bicycle in 1940? Remember when you sat down really hard on your tailbone playing basketball in high school? Have you forgotten that sprained ankle or knee emergency or the times you braced yourself on your wrists too hard? What about the 53 years of playing the violin?" Or, in Nannie's case, "How about I remind you of those years you worked really hard in a school cafeteria lifting pots of spaghetti and pans of bread dough? I'd like you to think all day about those years you helped lift your parents into and out of chairs and bed?"
In addition to the winter season with its biting cold, Nannie takes it hard when her friends and family members suffer anything at all--even a cold or pink eye. Lately Muffin had a bronchial bout with upper respiratory infection while we were on vacation and she worried about that. And Roo had pink eye and allergies in both eyes and she fretted over that too. And Joybear hasn't been feeling well, so Nannie asks every day if I've heard from her. But the big event on her mind is that my Aunt Nonie, my Daddy's brother's wife and Nannie's best friend since childhood, fell and broke her hip. Aunt Nonie also has a degenerative sight disease and doesn't see well enough to read anything but very large print now. She hasn't used her muscles much in the last 20 years so when she fell, it wasn't the surgery, but the rehab that was the big challenge. There is an additional blood problem as well. So, she has been moved to a nursing home because she was unable to complete the required five hours per day rehab at the hospital rehab center. My two cousins have health issues of their own to care for, so she is on her own for several days at a time. Nonie has her cell phone, so Nannie calls her every night and they talk, as is their custom. It's heartbreaking to see and hear them; friendship of over 80 years reduced to a few minutes on a telephone at night with both of them feeling helpless for the other. We've offered to take Nannie to visit, but her own back condition prevents traveling more than a few minutes.
This kind of pain and suffering is not located in the body, but is in the soul and spirit. I remember too well the day that my two grandmothers said their last farewell. They were both living with Nannie and Dubbie and had been for three years. Pickle (Dubbie's Mom) became so crippled with rheumatoid arthritis that she could no longer move by herself. Grandmommy wasn't too far behind suffering with other symptoms. When Pickle sat in a wheelchair at my parents' house and prepared to move to the nursing home (where she passed away just months later) Grandmommy cried like a little child. Pickle was brave until then. They had been friends for almost 80 years too. When both of them cried and said "God knows when we will see each other again," I lost it as well. That scene has been replaying on the DVD in my spirit for a few weeks as I hear Nannie talk about Nonie. But the truth is that God alone knows when each of us will see the other each time we part ways. He is our refuge and our help in times of trouble.