This is my grandmother, one of the most influential rocks of my foundation. A product of the Great Depression, she was the first one to teach me to never throw anything away, without looking at it once (maybe even twice or three times) for potential usefulness. Decades before our culture adopted such words as “recycling” or “upcycling.” She was the one to teach me that a woman’s hands don’t need to be polished to be beautiful- that they’re meant to be covered with dirt or ice cream, engaged in the important business of raising a family. She was one of the few who didn't think I was losing my mind when I wanted to pursue an art degree, long before education became a part of the equation. “Well, you’ll figure out something to do with it,” she said, her belief in me unwavering.
And recently, almost two months after her stroke, it was my turn to return that belief. She came to stay with us for eight days a few weeks ago, her mind fluctuating between sharp & funny to the riddled & frustrated confusion that accompanies her vascular dementia. She's been staying with my parents, and it was a chance to give them a vacation by themselves. There were definitely hard moments, harder than I was even prepared for, but there were also wonderful moments when she was definitely present with us, enjoying this time together. And it was my decision throughout our week, to capitalize on those positive moments. To hold onto my unwavering belief of who I know her to be, rather than let the dementia convince me otherwise. Not so different than parenting, I think. As we seek out the best of our children, and choose to believe (over & over again) in that potential instead of the momentary setbacks along the way. The grace to begin each day anew with the ones we love, and with ourselves too.