Yesterday was a good day. Today is a bad day.
This morning I found Mama Eula throwing all of my grandfather’s things away. She’s furious because he’s taken her money and run off with another woman. When I try to explain that he’s coming back soon, Mama Eula’s eyes widen and she usually says, “When he does, I’ll kill him.” But sometimes it’s worse.
Sometimes she says, “Well, I’ll just go down,” and then she motions to the lake, “and drown myself over there.” She then presses her lips together, and if I don’t respond, she adds for emphasis, “Then you’ll never see me again.” I choke back a smile and a sob.
Hey Dad, despite what you think, I’m not a saint. When she said this a few days ago, I wanted to say, go do that, please. I would, if I were you. But I held my tongue, walked outside, called my Mom, and cried.
Mama Eula found me sitting in the sun and told me to come inside. She thought the sun would burn me. Not wanting to waste any energy arguing, I followed her.
I feel like my grandmother’s jail keeper. A few days ago, Sophia and I brought Mama Eula out for a drive, but she got really scared and wanted to go home. When I turned around, she became furious because I was going the “wrong direction” and “home was the other way.” Sigh… As we pulled into the driveway, I remarked to Sophia, “that’s one thing about jail, it’s not one person alone in a cell. When someone isn’t “fit for society,” we’ve got to place one of our “own” in their with him.
In truth, we’re not Mama Eula’s jail keepers. Her confused mind is her jail, and we can’t join her in her cell or bring her out. We are spectators, doing our best to entertain her, keep her company, and make sure she doesn’t burn the house down as this disease takes over. I try to imagine what it must be like for her, not able to read or cook or even watch TV. Her ability to converse coherently comes and goes, but is mostly gone.
When I can, I take out my camera and try to focus on the beauty. I sit on my bed and study the light and shadows as they dance across my quilt.
Sometimes I go down to the flowers and take pictures of the petals.
When the sun gets low in the sky, I climb the hill down to the lake, and watch the sun play with the waves. Image never coming because I will probably not have time to put it in. Close your eyes and imagine it.
I hope this is coherent enough.
Every few minutes, I’ve paused to answer Mama Eula’s confused question, “Where is he?”
Exasperated, I finally went in and turned on the TV. I thought it would distract her for a few minutes, but she wanted me to sit with her. So I did. I watched the news people talk about the oil spill—day 85 and counting. Then there was a segment about an orphanage in Haiti where the kids are starving.
As the person described the 50 buildings full of food aid that has yet to be distributed, he became angry. The video footage switched from the kids to the large rooms of food piled to the ceiling. Although they clearly wanted me to be horrified (or did they?), I thought about all the people starving around the world, and how much food we throw away every day, and I found the segment… um… at best, amusing. I wanted to shout,
THIS IS NOT NEW.
THIS IS NOT ISOLATED TO HAITI.
there are so many people starving around the world
WE HAVE ENOUGH FOOD TO FEED THEM, YET WE DO NOT.
i thought everyone knew that by now.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS.
THERE IS ANOTHER WAY.
really, Julia? are you sure? what way?
IF WE STOP VALUING MONEY AND FAME…
and value life and love…
AND IF WE ALL REALIZE OUR HOW RESPONSIBLE WE ARE FOR EACH OTHER AND THE PLANET AND TAKE ACTION
what kind of action?
WE MUST REFUSE TO BE QUIET WHEN PEOPLE NEEDLESSLY DIE AND WE DESTROY THE PLANET.
but every situation is unique and complicated, you know even when people have the best intentions, they can just make things worse and create new problems
IT’S NOT THAT COMPLICATED
yes, it is.
THAT’S WHY WE NEED EVERYONE TO PAY ATTENTION AND LEARN WHAT THEY PERSONALLY ARE DOING THAT IS HARMING THE WORLD
directly or indirectly
WE MUST LOVE PEOPLE AND TEACH OTHERS TO LOVE TOO, AND SHOW EVERYONE THAT WE ARE ALL CONNECTED
but besides the obvious, how? how, how, how? you can’t force anyone to love, to pay attention, or to change.
I don’t know. But there are people dying and suffering, and here I sit taking pictures of flowers.
7/15/2010 update: Now that it is night time and I have had a few hours to myself, I must write that I have the best and most sweetest grandmother in the whole world. Despite her confusion, she is incredibly kind and understanding, and she is SO nice (unbelievably nice) and sweet and just WONDERFUL. All she wants to do is take care of us and make sure everything is okay. So even though it has been incredibly difficult, I am thankful for this time with her and wouldn’t trade it for anything. The time with Sophia has also been great.0