I always learn a lot in February because it’s Black History Month, but this year I’ve been especially focused on it and have been rewarded in a myriad of ways.
Last weekend we started a new family tradition with Kendal going to her first performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. I’m thrilled to restart this tradition after more than 25 years of attending with my Mom and other family members. We all enjoyed the performances, especially the dance Revelations, but it was the free performance and demonstration after the show that was the most emotional for me. We all danced and learned as the retired Ailey dancers took the hundreds in attendance through the various dance moves in Revelations. Watching Kim and Kendal alongside each other and even up on the stage, and then me dancing side by side with Kim brought tears to my eyes. I took quite a few video clips that I shared with Mom this week. She smiled and said “good” though I’m sure she can’t process what she was watching, but the fact is we are making historical memories that I hope will last a lifetime.
The only part of February that I dread is Valentine’s Day. I’m used to being by myself now, but I still get that ache in my heart as the day approaches. So this year I made plans to spend the afternoon with Mom, and then to pick up Kendal after school to put together a LEGO set. I was stunned when I arrived at the group home and all of the residents and caregivers were dressed in red, looking gorgeous! I had made some Valentine’s Day coloring sheets for me and Mom to do, but she wasn’t talking at all or very aware so I just sat with her. Like I always say, I have no expectations with this disease so I wasn’t upset at all that we didn’t color. After a couple of hours with Mom I took a few pics and then headed to pick up Kendal. The surprise of the day was when Kendal got in the car. I told her that I’d spent time with Mom and she quickly said she wanted to see her too. So back to Mom’s I went. Mom was totally different when I returned. She barely acknowledged me, but when she saw Kendal, she smiled from ear to ear and said “HI!!”. She hasn’t smiled like that in a long time! The card I brought for Mom had gold colored lettering and it was hard for her to see. So all she could read was her name and mine that I’d printed. As she struggled reading the card, Kendal said “I’ll read it to you Grandma”. Oh Lordy!!! Mom and I listened intently as Kendal read and tears came to my eyes. What an amazing kid she is. We had a great time building the LEGO set at my house too, it was simply the perfect day! I forgot all about being alone, and I know Tim was with us and smiling!
Yesterday I had already set aside time to attend a Black History lecture on Josiah Henson (on whom the book Uncle Tom’s cabin was loosely based). The lecture was held at Surratt House (where Johns Wilkes Booth ran to after assassinating President Lincoln) which is literally down the street from my house. Most important of the many things that I learned from the lecture was how Josiah and his wife and four children walked through dangerous territory for 6 weeks from Kentucky to Canada so they could be free!!
Today was “historical movie” day for me! I watched the Netflix series on “Who Killed Malcolm X”, and “Barry” (a young Barack Obama) and documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Quincy Jones, and Allen Iverson. It was a day full of pride and tremendous learning for me and I wish Mom could have enjoyed some of it with me! I hope we can continue to share our history with Kendal and I will continue to review history with Mom just as she used to do with me. Role reversal is such a humbling experience but I try to continue to rise to the occasion and pray I’m doing all the right things. Next up is Mom’s birthday on Tuesday and the folks at the group home are really looking forward to our celebration! Love you Mom can’t wait to have cake with you!
So wonderful, wonder-full a post, Loretta. Indeed, as I read and reflect, one filled with revelations (to borrow the Ailey-theme) of new life in the restoration of olden tradition via passing it on to a new generation and of renewal of relationships (at whatever level and to whatever degree) through shared participation in life’s action and activity (in this case, dancing), of re-grounding one’s self in formative relationships by continual connection (again, at whatever level and to whatever degree) through visiting and doing and being with Doris. Wonderful! Wonder-full! Love
Thanks sooooo much Paul!! I’m thrilled that Kendal wanted to see Mom and and how priceless our time was!! As for our revelations of renewal relationships is definitely a work in progress. Not sure how it will play out but I’d do almost anything to share in these memories with Kendal! I believe 2020 will be a really magical memory year!!
What a tradition you’ve started (are continuing!) with Kendal. The Alvin Ailey performance, including dancing with Kim and Kendal, must have been so special for all of you. I was moved just hearing about it and seeing the wonderful pictures. I’m so glad you all had that experience. The more you tell me of your early life with your mom the more I understand what a wise woman she is – and always was. The intentionality and love with which she exposed you to history, to art, to reading, to understanding and navigating the world in which you were growing up shines a beautiful light on the relationship you still have with her and on some of the factors that I know helped you become the remarkable woman you are.
Your description of your visit with your mom and then Kendal’s desire to visit her too and your account of that time demonstrate that Kendal too is being nurtured in that same careful, loving way. I wish I could peek into the future and see her at your age now: another dynamo of a loving, care woman, I would predict.
The pictures of you, your mom, and Kendal are wonderful. Your mother always strikes me as deeply contemplating what is happening, even if she is not always communicative. She has a focus somewhere that seems unbreakable, just from the studied expression on her face.
I’ve been celebrating Black History Month too. I finally got to see the movie Harriet. I have a feeling you will have seen it, but if you haven’t, I recommend it. What a story! What a woman! And then Saturday night Ted and I went to hear blues/gospel/soul singer Ruthie Foster from Austin, TX. It was a glorious concert. I couldn’t sit still or stop smiling. The person who introduced her remarked at how much our temps have warmed up in the past day or so and then said that, of course, was because Ruthie was in town. “Everything heats up when she arrives!” Is that ever the truth!!!
Thank you so much for sharing such deeply precious times with those of us who love reading about them and seeing the pictures. Please give your mom a birthday hug from me tomorrow. I hope she has a lovely birthday, and I hope you have a great time with her too.
Lots of love and hugs,
Wow!! Karen thank you so much!! YES!! Harriet is on my list!!!! Saving it for the end of the month!! Watched Thurgood Marshall today!! Just amazing!! Ohhhh Ruthie Foster!! Sooooo cool!! I’d be smiling too!!
I too have wondered how Kendal will be when she gets older!!! She’s so kind and loving and has been that way with Mom since she was about two years old.
I’m so loving this life and all the beauty with it!! YEs indeed Mom always seems to be contemplating!! I’d LOVE to spend 5 minutes in that mind of hers!! I’m excited about Mom’s birthday and will definitely have photos!!!
Love you much!!!