Friday, February 12, 2010

Shifts and Changes

It turns out that the kid didn't just go off to Haiti without telling anyone. He just didn't tell us. He told his brother, and the two of them decided that we would worry and fret too much about it, so we were better off not knowing till he returned and his adventure was over.

I can remember making this same decision about informing our parents about events, but now there's been a change. We are moving from the generation that makes decisions to the generation that has decisions made for and about us. Not that we're not still in charge of our lives, but I realize that we're no longer the "sandwich generation," taking care of parents and children at the same time. Now the kids are sandwiched between us and the new baby. I'm not sure just how I feel about this, but mostly it's a big HA!!!

Although my parents have both died, I am still dealing with estate issues. I spent this morning getting numbers ready for taxes, but that burden is light compared to the responsibility of caring for my parents. My husband's parents died after years of lingering with lots of medical issues, and so did mine. I know too much about cancer, chemo, dementia, ERs, hard decisions.

Being at the top of the sandwich isn't so bad. We can do what we want, and we don't have to tell anyone, really, although we do let the kids know where we are, most of the time.

We went to Paris a few years ago and our return was delayed. as the plane hadn't come from Houston, we were offered either a trip to Newark or another night at a nice hotel at the airport. Tough decision, eh? Newark? Paris? Newark? Paris? We spent another night in France and flew home, changing planes in Houston, the following day. The kids were so upset! They'd tracked our original flight from Houston to home, and the plane had arrived. Where were we? What they hadn't done, of course, was to track that first flight from Paris to Houston. But they were upset that we'd been "lost." We thought it was funny.

So now we shift part of the burden of worry to our kids' shoulders. Of course, we still worry about them, and about the baby, that darling next generation. She can smile now, and almost always hold her head steady. She likes to look out the window, and she likes light. Her only decisions are about waking and eating and fussing if her diaper is uncomfortable. Nice to see another generation coming along to the bottom of the sandwich.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Quake Rules

When our boys were small, one of our rules was that they could not go from one place to another without telling us. If they went to play at one friend's house and decided to go somewhere else, they had to call. As they grew older and drove themselves around the county, the rule held, and they were very good about checking in with us. My reasoning from the beginning was that if there was an earthquake, I needed to know where to look for them, and they understood.

When they went off to college, the rule boundaries stretched to the state line. If they left California, we wanted to know. Even now if they're traveling they call or we will receive an email with flight information. But not always.

The kid called tonight, his usual Sunday call, but late. The big game was over, and we thought we'd hear from him at least so he could tease me about picking the Colts as winners. Therefore, when the phone rang after nine, after midnight his time, and he said he was coming back from Miami, we thought he'd been to a game party. No. He'd been to Haiti.

On Wednesday he and a surgeon from his hospital flew with ten tons of medical supplies and surgical equipment into Port au Prince, and they've worked for five days to distribute the materials to hospitals and clinics and orphanages. The kid has now set broken bones, casted arms and wrists, seen more devastation than he could imagine, flown to rural clinics and met people trying to put lives together amid ruin and poverty, and helped where he could.

At one stop a grandmother handed over a baby she couldn't care for. I asked what size the baby the baby was, and he said the same size as our new granddaughter, six pounds. But this baby was three months old, not five weeks. The baby flew back with them to the orphanage, because otherwise it would die of dehydration and starvation.

The kid has nothing but good things to say about the military working there. Our men are in full gear in 90 degree heat with high humidity. The airport is in a dust bowl, and the dust and diesel fumes swirl in the air, constantly stirred by planes and heliocopters. He said the cargo planes have come from everywhere, and the military keeps order as the aid pours in to Haiti.

Our soldiers helped secure the materials they brought in and also helped load the trucks. They never grumbled. They have no showers and must clean themselves with wipes. They have basic meals. They stand guard and help load trucks and are glad to see other Americans. I asked the kid if he had any sort of special badge or ID, and he said, "Mom, I'm white." He's blond too, and looks like an American kid. He has nothing but admiration for the job being done down there.

And now he's home again, probably standing in his shower. He left all the clothes he took with him in Port au Prince. I asked him why he hadn't called to let us know he was going, and he said he hadn't wanted us to worry. Tuesday he'd been put to the head of a line to get all the shots he needed, and Wednesday they flew out of Miami with their cargo. Tomorrow he will be two hours late for work at the hospital, but he's not taking the day. There's too much to do.

He's never left the country before without letting us know. When he went around the world we heard from him often. Our rule that originated in my worry over earthquakes has fallen because of a quake and his decision that we weren't to worry, weren't to know until he'd returned safely to tell us where he'd been. I guess the next thing will be that we'll have to stop calling him the kid.

California snow

plum tree through the window

As I read about the storm which is blanketing the east coast in record depths, I look out and see the closest thing we have to those flakes, the petals of the ornamental pear trees planted along the street.

I love these trees, their nearly-black rough bark, their beautiful foliage that changes color in echo of eastern maples, and particularly their soft tiny flowers. The tiny white petals are here briefly, falling prey to our winter rains and winds, then they blow and drift across the lawns in fragile simulation of the frozen coverings in the east. When we walked around the neighborhood yesterday the gutters, still draining the day's rain, carried drifts of petals like wave-spray. Our system does drain into the ocean, so eventually those petals will become part of the Pacific that is mimicked here in miniature.

But today the rains have stopped and the wind is calm and the skies are blue and bright. There's some sort of football game coming this afternoon, but I'll be reading or playing Lexulous. I've decided that the team with the blue shirts will win, because I always pick blue. And if I'm wrong, well, so what?