Thursday, August 09, 2012
In moments of slight crisis in Grandson's life - of which there are not many (he is blessed so far with a sunny nature) - he sucks his thumb. His parents refer to his mood on such occasions as being "a bit thumby". This also describes my feelings since Daughter 2 left for London; and my thumbiness has increased with my mother's illness. When she improves, she's weaker and unhappier and more puzzled than when she was apparently unaware of anything, and naturally enough it's been very stressful to witness.
However, as I left the hospital last night, a nurse - while sympathising - said to me, "It's just part of life." And it was precisely the right thing to say to me at that moment. I did already realise, of course, that we all decline and die; but somehow I was still at the stage of feeling that I ought to be able to do something to improve my mum's lot. And when the nurse said that, it was as if a mist had cleared and I suddenly felt - well, sometime soon is my mum's time to go and that's just the way it is.
I can't necessarily be sure that this feeling of acceptance will be permanent (watch this space) but last night at least it also extended to some extent to accepting the loss in our everyday lives of Daughter 2. Again, I know intellectually that children leave home in the end. But I need to remind myself that it's "just part of life" and there are other, better, parts.
Such as Grandson. We had him for six hours yesterday, without his parents, to start preparing him for the time when Daughter 1 goes back to work three days a week and leaves him with us. I did enjoy it! He's at the beginning of life and he's so cheering. Which reminds me of the celebration of babyhood - "A common-sense / Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode" - in Sylvia Plath's poem to her unborn child. The imagery in this poem makes me wriggle with pleasure:
Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.
Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.