Gifts and a groan

Ozark. Alabama, Jan 1, 2015

Ozark. Alabama, Jan 1, 2015

Starting on the 29th, we noticed some ‘precursor behaviors’–the kinds of behaviors that serve as an early warning that our girl is going to a not-so-good place. None of it was ramped up enough to require a lot of response–mainly, we had to find ways to redirect her and that strategy worked.  By the 31st, though, my own ‘early warning system’ had kicked in; it’s a small but distinct tightening of my muscles and hyper-vigilance.  Again, though, it wasn’t so bad that either Sherod or I felt we had to have a powwow  to review how things were going.  Maria has been sleeping until 9 or 10 most mornings so yesterday, when she woke up at about 6:30, I became even more attentive. By 7:45, she was sitting on the sofa in our den looking like the darkest, most ominous cloud imaginable.  At first, she sat there in stony silence.  Then she started trying to start a fight and about half-way into that, when we wouldn’t bite, she said, “Fine!  I don’t care. I want to go to Tallahassee today”.

Out in the country on the morning of January 1st, you don’t mess around.  Within half an hour of that conversation, we were loading her and her gear into the car and heading down the road to Tallahassee.  In the meantime, she had moved to a very different place emotionally.  As I packed her things and she got dressed, she stopped and looked at me, apologized because she didn’t want to hurt my feelings and asked for the reassurance that she was doing the right thing.  It was easy to reassure her. It took steely resolve on my part not to weep.  There is enormous progress in her ability to hit a wall and not lose control and become either physically or verbally abusive with us.  We were able to have her with us for two whole weeks–the longest we’ve had since we placed her at BARC in Ft. Lauderdale back in June of 2012.

A little less than four hours later, as we were turning into TDC, Maria said, “home, sweet home.”  Before we left, she was insistent that we come to her room because she had forgotten her Christmas presents for us–a funny Christmas mug for Sherod, a set of Christmas-themed potholders and dishtowels for me. As soon as she had given us those gifts, she was ready for us to leave. Usually, one or the other of us makes the trek to Tallahassee and back. All my resolve sustained me until Sherod and I walked out of House 4, where Maria lives.  And then, I could only thank God that both of us had made the trip, that Sherod was there to lean against because I basically fell apart.

Along with resolve, these years have built up our resilience so it didn’t take me long to pull myself back together, climb in the car and not play the game of looking back as we pulled out of the driveway at TDC and headed home.  The drive gave us time to talk.  The irony that the new year found us back in Florida and then headed right back out, was hard to miss.  There was precious little traffic on the road so it was an easy drive in both directions and we got home in time to be able to catch the Alabama-Ohio State game.  We make the drive so regularly now that we know the sights well.  Yesterday, it was particularly redemptive and graceful to get to groan at this sign. It never fails to amuse me.

4 thoughts on “Gifts and a groan

  1. I am so saddened by this. I know how good you both were with Maria while she was here. But I too saw “something” coming….even on Christmas day when we were there. I know you must be deeply sad. But you need to remember who you are, what you have done for this beloved person and that she still must somehow find her way in this world. Rosa, you are being the most positive, loving and kind mother that anyone could ever hope for. But you cannot do it all. Please know that all of you -but especially you- are in my constant prayers.

    Joe & I are still taking it day by day. On Wed. afternoon, he went to the country club to play cards with his 2 friends who are 90 & 95. I was in the Winn-Dixie when I got a call about 5:00 pm that he became ill and almost passed out. His friends were sending him by ambulance to the hospital. I got there about the same time as the ambulance. His blood pressure was very low and he was ashen. Emergency Room ran every test known to man and decided to keep him overnight. Result: Anemia & Low blood pressure. He has lost weight and is not eating….so I am back to Ensure and spinach, collards, etc. He was glad to be out of the hospital today and is resting well at home.

    Our love to you and Sherod. Life is ever more interesting and challenging!

  2. only a mothers heart could bend and stretch around the needs of her child and the healthy care of her child, to the deprivation of her own needs and desire.. You are a mother, in the truest sense of the word. Sometimes it seems our children are given to us to refine our character into the strength of steel of our potential. God takes all things and makes some good sense of them, though retrospect is the best view of it. I am sorry for your daughters pain and especially for yours. My heart is with you.

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