My dog wanders around the house bumping into things. The furniture is rearranged; cardboard boxes and plastic bins sprout and disappear overnight. Mudprints colonize the kitchen floor, the bathtub fills with dirt. Now there is a matter of perception. My younger daughter spots a stain at the bottom of a mug. I squeegie it with a soapy sponge and rub the inside thoroughly with a soft foam brush, rinse, return for inspection. It somewhat passes muster. She shows me prolific examples of her art, where I and other beings are represented lavishly with crayons, pencils, and paints. The plush animals are alive and have names. My older daughter reads me chapters from a fantastical bedtime story about mythical kingdom of language and I embarrassed to fall asleep, but she soothes my subconscious. Something (anything; a person or a dog, a train or a weather alert) wakes me very early in the morning. One time it’s my mother in her dream body, standing by the edge of our bed. I say mom and she dematerializes. I am in a 5th-dimensional imbroglio of the twilight zone. I pretend I am a ninja tip-toeing through the house, make a pot off coffee, replenish the water bottle I keep by my side. I sneak out to my studio to meditate and write, sing and move vibratory energy, work on my poem. My mother croons, “Que será será…” and complains about her heart. She can’t feel it beating, can’t feel who she is, feels lost in this world—she falls into an endless loop—although, her color looks good and she has a normal pulse. She can feel her fingers and toes, and enjoys a backrub. “Who’s going to give me a little cup of coffee? Una tacita de café, por favor.” We try out a women’s prayer meeting in Spanish at the big Catholic church, where the energy is intense and the music formulaic yet strange. It is in a former auto mechanic’s garage that has been annexed next to the big parking lot and not yet been renovated. Along with 20 women reciting and repeating and wailing and singing and swaying with their hands up and open, imploring and meditating on Our Father, I stand there with her, my hands in a collapsed cosmic mudra. I don’t think it is her style. We have gone to the bank and the Senior Center (which, too, is prolific with programs and events, books, tables, meeting rooms, a small gym and cafeteria, a warm environment). We have lunch downtown and she half-jokes that she wants to steal the bright orange coffee mugs. And what a nice napkin. The food is too tough to eat, however. She only has a couple spoonfuls of the polenta. She requests a refill on el cafecito. Half-caf, I say aside to the waitress. I take a we-selfie with the sunny decor near the bright entrance. We walk down the block, to the corner of 3rd Avenue and Main, and then return back to the car. The dog has pooped on the kitchen floor. My wife steam-vacuums the carpet. She reads up on medical, therapeutic, and mindfulness-based approaches to being a care partner, offers joyful expressions and moves things around the house. There is a new economy of attention in the local nebula and we are adjusting cautiously and lovingly as possible for Abuelita. She smiles like a child, a wise gnome. She is the pure presence of grief. We all sit down for breakfast, lunch, and dinner now. We use vinyl placemats depicting arrangements of fruit. We speak or try to speak or understand or get the message across using visual cues, keep our mood up. We say Grace. Que Dios te bendiga, she says. She brings her suitcase to the car when we go out to run errands and explore options for healthy entertainment, just in case.
Feature Image: AK Rockefeller, Cosmic Fish, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0