Saturday, June 5, 2010
I slept last night in a bed I have slept in - off and on - for most of my life. It's a twin bed, made of wood whose original finish has long been rubbed and worn down to a well-loved and well-used shine. Covering its mattress is a quilt, made by my mother's mother (Nanny to the grandkids) for me, out of quilt squares my mom stitched when she was 12. There's a matching bed at the other end of the room, with another quilt made of mom's quilt squares, this one made for my sister. Years ago, these twin beds were in a room in Nanny's house, and we slept in them there, under windows looking toward the Pigeon River and the rolling tops of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Abby slept in a portable crib in the room next to mine, underneath a quilt that was made for me when I was born. Throughout this house, there are all kinds of things with deep history, deeper than I know, I'm sure. My parents - well, mostly my mother - have lots and lots of stuff. Most of it, to me, is really just stuff that I hope they'll clean out themselves so I don't have to. Last night, though, sleeping in that old twin bed mattered.
Facing the mortality of my parents doesn't come easy for me. I want them to be around when Abby graduates from diapers and from college. The diaper graduation, we've got a great chance at making. College is another question (and, yes, it's okay with me if she chooses not to go to college). Spring and early summer 2010 haven't brought great news for them. And so I worry. I worry about their house here in central NC with long flights of stairs, I wonder if they're asking all the doctors and specialists the right questions. And I feel frustrated, and helpless, and sad.
Being with them helps. Seeing Abby with them heals. Abby following them around and wanting them to play with her helps them forget for awhile about all the tests, and the waiting, and the unknown future. And the worn bedposts comfort me, remind me of the depth of family at its best, and most life-giving.