Two days left and I will have successfully completed NaBloPoMo 2011.
But here's the thing, I've been coughing and sneezing all day so I'm having a hard time finding something to write about. I look around me and all I see is balled up Kleenex. I know that's gross but when you don't feel good and you're going through tissues at a rapid rate, it's just easier to toss them on the floor instead of crossing the room to the trash can.
Hey wait a minute. I just had a brilliant idea come flashing though my totally congested head. If I can't go to the trash can, then maybe I should bring the trash can to me.
Anyway, here's what I've been thinking about today, brought about by all the Kleenex. In the last year of her life, I started tucking my mom into bed. To make sure she got there safely but mostly so I could kiss her good night and share the last few minutes of the day with her. Mom had several rituals she performed every night. Dad called them a "habits." Both of them used the well-practiced routines, I think, like a check off sheet so they didn't forget anything. The last thing Mom did after she slipped under the covers was to check her Kleenex supply. She would pull two or three tissues out of the box, fold them neatly and tuck a couple under her pillow. But she always saved one to wrap around and under her fingers on her left hand. That way, if she woke up needing to blow her nose, she always had a tissue. She had little piles of folded tissues all around the house.
You know how when your kids were little and it was bed time and even if they were dead tired they could rally just as you were corralling them into the bathroom to brush their teeth. Suddenly there was a list of things they forgot to do, or needed to do, or didn't want to do.
I didn't kiss Daddy.
I want a glass of juice.
Where's my blanket. I can't go to sleep without my blanket.
He/She is bothering me.
Tell me a story.
Leave the bathroom light on.
When I first started helping Mom to bed and she did the Kleenex thing, I actually thought she was stalling for time like a kid. That's a crazy thought for a couple of reasons. #1 she was the mom and could go to bed any darn time she wanted. #2 Her routines were run by the clock. Unless she wasn't feeling well, and sometimes even then, Mom was in her pajamas and blue velveteen robe and slippers by 10 pm. She sat in her chair with a glass of milk and a handful of pills on the table beside her which she downed slowly as she watched the TV show of the night. She might doze off in the chair but refused to go back to her room before the start of the 11:00 news. Stalling wasn't necessary because it would have upset the whole rhythm of the night. Eventually I understood that the Kleenex thing, the routine, was part of her comfort zone. I think as people get older their habits become so ingrained that not to do them causes undue stress. And who needs any more stress when you're old?
Dad was just as meticulous in his nighttime routine.
Radio on. Check.
Night light on. Check.
Bedside commode in the right place. Check.
Kleenex in his nightshirt pockets. Check.
Say the Lord's prayer. Check.
Kiss me goodnight. Check.
I didn't realize it until this afternoon how important Kleenex was to my parents. Funny how ordinary things can bring them to mind.
Today I'm grateful for long-standing comforts like Kleenex and Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup.
Wishing for you a routine to follow when you want to feel safe, and courage to step outside the box when you're feeling daring.