Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tunnel vision from the outsider's screen

Grief makes us cognitively impaired. Mid July of this year, my Mom past away due to dementia. The grieving process thus far has made me care less about my mental sharpness and more concerned with my own inner dialogue. I'm temporarily impaired with the swirls of grief.
 Of course, if you have dementia in your family tree, as you age, you start to analyze and over criticize any forgotten task or lost name. It could become debilitating if left to run amuck.

 With my grief, hours turn into days.
 While I've been busy with the tasks at hand, there's always this program running in the background.

The main operating system of my brain is carrying out the daily tasks. Barely noticeable to the observer would be the internal errors my brain is experiencing as I maneuver through my grief.

 It's not sadness exactly, not yet.

 It's as if a short circuit has occurred internally and I'm only partially present. There are silhouettes and ghosts and scents and echos. Running in the background.

 Ohio was devoid of rain for quite some time this summer. I think the intensity of heat and humidity made the matters of Mom's death worse. Being held up in the air conditioning for days on end left my garden to suffer a little. It left me to suffer too because without the release of stress among the plants and weeds, I just sat and stewed.

For more than ten days my poor little garden never saw my shadow or a rain drop or a watering can. Thankfully, quinoa doesn't care about the water and just kept right on growing, tall and triumphant. This lanky tall plant requires less than an inch of a rain during it's growth.



My quinoa is becoming a stunning shade of pink. It's nearly mid August and this crop has been a source of amusement for me all summer long.


 The pepper plants have under produced, except for those jalapenos. I swear, those things must be straight from the hallows of hell because those hot little suckers grow and hang heavy with fruit. As I toiled about the tasks of death and sorrow for those ten days. The garden continued to live.

So, here I am. Less than a month from the day that I became parent-less. I sit, in the air conditioning  shelling my dried lentils.
 Brown lentils.
 From my backyard.
Oh, how I love them. Most are still hanging on the vines waiting for me to pick them. My uncle who is 76 years old told me that back in the day beans during this stage of growth and drying were called
"leather britches" I'm not sure if that was just a family expression or a regional term. I rather like it though!
Before they were leather britches, the lush plants of June looked like this. Brown lentils in their tangled glory.



We picked our corn. Small ears.Without the use of pesticides or miracle growing additives the plants still produced. No, not the humongous ears with giant kernels, like at the grocery store. Just small  ears of pure simple corn.

My chickpea plants are brown. It's time to harvest. That's the thing about planting a crop I've never grown before. I'm clueless. I watched the pods turn from a hard, fuzzy, green crop into something that is ready to shell.



The first time I peaked into one of the pods, I was certain something had gone terribly wrong. Did the seed company mislabel the package? Did a garden gnome stroll into my yard and pull a horrible prank?
 These are not chickpeas, or so I thought!
In my despair of grief, I had wandered out to the garden in hopes of finding some sort of order. Something of normal and right.
 A balance in the cosmos.
 A key stroke of familiar.
 So I plucked a still fuzzy green chickpea pod.
 Busted it open.
What I saw was wrong, completely wrong. I had no idea there were so many varieties of garbanzo beans.
 I expected to see the creamy white, fully rounded chickpeas, you know, like the ones in the cans from the grocery store. Instead I found small little green odd shaped looking things. These are Desi chickpeas.
Nonetheless the plants have turned brown, as they should.
Super food from the backyard.

For now, I miss the little old woman in the nursing home. Denial maybe, I just do not feel as if I'm mourning the loss of my mother. The person whom my Mom had become is the person I have lost. Dementia changed her in many ways. As her dementia progressed, the mother daughter relationship changed. She had begun to call me Mommy. Prior to the extreme changes, she said " I don't feel much like a Mom" That's when my grief process began for the woman whom I had known as my mother. She was gone. She knew this. It's a relationship that is never replaced, for good or bad, this is one person who knew me and had memories of me, from the beginning. Before I even knew who I was, she did. That was fading. And now is totally gone.

My one place of solitude throughout life has always been in the garden. Dirt therapy. Pulling weeds, tidying rows, and turning over the soil. Pure silent therapy.

Thankfully we've seen a break from the heat and humidity. Our weekend has been filled with rain. As I process the endless tangle of emotions, the leather britches and weeds will remain true and reliable.

Our wonderful little blue cream tomatoes. Mister nurtured the plants from seed. We were skeptical in the beginning that any of the plants would make it, let alone produce their golden and purple and blueish tomatoes. Yet, they did produce. An abundance of sweet uniquely flavored fruit.

Rows are emptying in the garden as we harvest the plants. I'm considering which winter crops to put in the ground. Cooler autumn weather brings the chance for peas, sounds like an ideal way to escape into a healthy inner dialogue. Turning over the dirt and coming to terms with the aftermath of Mom's dementia.




**Bill Perry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe wrote "What's The Frequency Kenneth?" shout out for the lyrics used in the title of this post.

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