When I was a young girl I had the weekly task of dusting bookcases, end tables, and other furniture odds and ends. Every Saturday morning my siblings and I would do our assigned chores before we were allowed to go off to our free time activity. I was the youngest of five kids so I somehow seemed to luck out and always get the minimal side of chore assignments. Given that I was a very small girl it seems logical to me why I was assigned the things I was assigned. My siblings didn’t necessarily agree.
As a girl, with an over the top imagination, more times than not I found myself getting in to some sort of trouble. Often, I was left having to sit quietly in time out and think about what I had done. We didn’t call it time out back then but it followed the same guidelines. I was sat down on the floor in the kitchen, asked to think about my mistake, and present an apology when I was ready. Maybe this is why today my brain is filled with an ever-flowing stream of imaginative information.
On one particular morning as I dusted to my hearts content I found myself interacting with the various figurines that gracefully adorned our home. I was in a world of my own talking to these porcelain pretties and creating a world of wonderment. My mother had a beautiful set of angels. Each angel represented the months of the year. These intricate beauties were adorned with a birthstone, along with a floral bouquet representing each month. These winged statues were so precious to my mother that she kept them on the top shelf of a wall mounted bookcase. A bookcase my father built, no less. So precious were those figurines that she, for some reason, placed them far out of my reach. My mother always said those angels were pretties to look at but never to be touched. Yet, I was a climber.
One Saturday morning I fervently went about my task of dusting and decided I wanted to play with those angels. You all see where this is going don’t you? I cannot tell you how I did it, but I somehow climbed up onto the back of the sofa, balanced myself on my tiptoes, and one by one, took down those angels. These little people with halos spoke to me and told me they wanted to fly. I without hesitation strategically placed twelve porcelain angels into a towel, folded it like a hammock swing, and began spinning around with those angels. “Wee,” I sang out, giggled, and proclaimed, “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly.” All was grand until I slipped. I fell to my knees, dropped the towel, and pieces of porcelain went everywhere. With the abrupt sound of breaking glass my mother miraculously appeared in the living room to find me amidst her now broken angels.
My mother, I am sure, wanted to tan my hide and bite her tongue from saying not so nice words. Instead, she simply checked to see if I was O.K. and then very quietly picked up each piece and part of those angels. I, of course, was crying and saying, “I didn’t mean to Mommy!” Never did she raise her voice but more consoled me. Later that day my mom and I sat and glued those angels back together. We placed them back on the shelf as if they were, while scarred, brand new.
For me, in calling up that memory of those angels I find that they somehow are an analogy in my life as a caregiver today. My husband is like those precious angels. He with his stroke is slightly broken. But with each day and some consoling he mends just like the angels that were glued back together to look brand new. And then the manner in which my mother so effortlessly placed me first by asking if I was O.K. before a bunch of broken figurines speaks volumes as to what matters most. I, as a caregiver, can only hope that I am like my mother and remember to put my stroke survivor first before any mood, object or thing on those days I feel beyond frustrated or exhausted. I hope I, as a caregiver, am like those angels and a deserving halo is floating above my head.
And, in case you are wondering, I still have those angels. They are placed high on a shelf so to not be disturbed. Sometimes I think they still speak to me. Only now, they tell me I am doing an excellent job at care giving and everything is going to be O.K…