Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Recorded Joy

"What is joy if it goes unrecorded and what is love if it is not shared?"

Call the Midwife, the show that sends me to bed so many night wrecked.

A moment of joy.  F, the beautiful elder from Congo who signs proudly her full name: "Fatuma" on the sign-in sheet at my job, with so much joy that she shouts and dances with pride that she accomplished her signature.

We sat at my desk with an interpreter to fill out housing wait-list requests.  It took an hour, and she got up to talk to a Congolese coworkorker as I called her doctor for her.  She was requesting an appointment.

A nurse answered right away, before Fatuma had returned.  When asked what the reason was for the visit, she would not say.  "I just need to see my doctor" the interpreter reported to me from the doorway.  The nurse explained that she needed to write down a reason for the visit, so finally Fatuma came back to my desk.

In her bright purple and pink hand-sewn dress with thick lace at the trim, she danced to her seat explaining her need to the interpreter who then erupted in laughter.

"She said that her doctor loves her and needs to visit with her once a month or she is missed...And she loves her doctor too."

My own laughter came as I explained to the nurse, and the joy spread over the phone to the nurse who laughed and agreed to the visit.  This, at a county clinic.  Health care done right.  They know her.  They meet with her because they love her.  They love her!  A patient! An elder from another country who birthed all seven of her children alone, not another living soul with her.

 I was able to tell her today the good news that her mammogram and first-ever pap were clear.  This didn't make her dance in joy.  Writing her name on the sign-in sheet did.

Monday, November 23, 2015


I just told some church friends at a gathering at our house Tuesday night that I think the term 'family' is thrown around too much these days.  I've been in enough churches to know that just a shared faith doesn't put one, practically, on the level of 'family'.  Family means you get to ask for stuff without fear of it being assumed that repayment may never happen.  A friend of mine I've known since we were 13 always says "call it even" when we're out and paying for each other's stuff.  Who cares.  It's family.

This weekend though we experienced it in some ways.  Some friends with a new baby at home had a stir-crazy two-year-old who came home with me in the afternoon into the evening.  My brother and sister-in-law were at the house too.  I warmed up soup, made a spinach salad while the two-year-old became a part of the family for the evening.  Having her with us was effortless.

The next morning I came downstairs at 8:15 to find my daughter staring out the front window, waiting for her babysitting gig to show up.  She'd been up since 6am in excitement.  The dad brought the baby in still in her carseat, and we moved her to my daughter's room where she peacefully looked around without a sound.  My brother-in-law came upstairs and eventually held the baby while I made pancakes and eggs as the house stirred awake.  I made her a bottle, which my daughter fed to her.  The two of them fell asleep on the couch amidst the noise.  Having the baby with us was effortless.

In time, our nephew showed up eating the leftovers of breakfast, and he held the baby for a while too.

Saturday night, our 'bonus kid', the girl down the street came over while my husband was performing in a play.  They danced in my office with youtube videos.  We made a cranberry Christmas cake even though it's not even Thanksgiving.  We watched a terrible kid movie in the basement while the girls brushed and braided my hair.  We watched movie trailers until 10:30 when my kids walked her home.

Sunday morning I woke up to a text from a friend who is going to the east coast for Thanksgiving and wanted me to dogsit for eight days.  Can't do it because of our cats, but I was still happy that she asked.  These are the sorts of questions that familiy asks.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kid dreams

One kid didn't want to get out of bed, not unusual, but this morning because he'd been dreaming that he'd won all of Disneyland in a raffle.  He was desperate to get back to sleep.

The other kid told me that she'd dreamed that I'd had a baby, and she was so upset she'd run away.  Good thing close friends of ours are having babies right now, not me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A night in November

The years of beauty, noise, warmth, trial here and there, running to and fro, the years to look back on with wonder that we lived such a thing.

The warmth of this kitchen with its green granite counters I slice Costco pizza on for our church small group who comes over on Tuesday nights.  The neighbor girl, three or four houses down, our "bonus kid" stays for any and all meals, and we are happy to have her. Her voice is raspy and funny and her laughter infectious and true.  She is our kids' bonus sibling.  Before they walked her home at 9:45, they were challenging each other to math problems like nerds.  They had also been giving each other piggy-back rides, falling off for comedy-sake and laughing and farting all at once and then the laughter got louder and so my husband retreated downstairs to his office and came back up half and hour later asking how I stand the noise.

Because in the midst of the noise, I wrote the therapist our update on how the family functioned this week, and I somehow was able to wrap my arms around the noise while also shooing it into the other room.  That's when the math problems started.

And the kitten, almost now fully grown, and the dog have become best friends, chasing and biting each other's faces with wrestles and teases, and we sometimes sit around and just watch them for long delicious minutes.

The kitten now is alone in her person's bed, her person having gone to sleep in the attic with her brother in the carpeted play-area made for them by their dad and their pappy.  They don't use it as often as we wish but tonight on a rainy and cold night, the night before a day off from school, they agree to sleep there, and I'm jealous for the noise the rain must make as they drift to sleep.

These years, these days.

A riddle for my daughter as she left for bed: "How many months have 28 days?"

The answer, she figured out all on her own.

12 months.  All have 28 and some have even more than that.  These months have more than that. These years have more.