Some stories shouldn’t be true. Win’s is one of them.
Win danced through the first sixty years of her life like an angel sprinkling stardust on everyone she met. She was a magnet for the masses. Strangers became soul mates within moments of melting under her twinkling eyes and probing compassion. She was an equal opportunity cherub ignoring race, age, gender and inhibition.
Win knew how to steamroll decency and frequently left me looking for a closet within which to hide my crimson cheeks. The illusion of charming innocence and the constant eruption of belly laughs disarmed you before you could gain offense. My own children were hopelessly poisoned against any of my starch conservatism. She just didn’t fit any stereotypical mother-in-law.
Win’s story shouldn’t be true because we trust that those who heal won’t hurt. Still it happened to Win.
Win graced the world with three more angels who carried on her tradition in their own ways. My life was velcroed to Win’s through the charm of the eldest. Mission and vision boomeranged our growing family back and forth across the globe for decades. But without hesitation the resting place was Win’s.
Win knew every silly song that survived the scorn of its hearers. Sashaying from kitchen to bedroom to garden, she yo-yoed between sacred hymn and childish buffoonery with equal pleasure and talent. Whether she whistled or yodeled or wound up for operatic renditions she had no regard for who would hear her performance. The neighbors grew wrinkles from their permanent smiles.
Win’s story shouldn’t be true because Win’s loss has become our loss. In her own way Win knows things aren’t the same any more.
A few weeks ago I watched my youngest daughter lay her newborn daughter into the crook of her young great -grandmother’s feeble arms. “Her name is Win – we named her after you.” A single tear rolled down Win’s face. The Bell’s Palsey stifled her attempted show of pleasure. My youngest was born of the same heart as Win and there has never been greater joy shared and greater grief known than at this moment.
Each of our four have laid their newborns in these arms that grow steadily weaker. Arms that would have, and should have, been strong if it weren’t for a doctor. Or Two.
Win’s story shouldn’t be true but it is and the family has never been the same because of it.
It started with a simple operation. A knee needed replacing. It was done. Rehab was needed and a new hospital became the place for the emotional and psychological hurricane that would devastate a family. In the hurry of every day care a prescription was written by a substitute doctor. The impact was significant and questioned by an anxious husband. Another substitute doctor doubled the dose and deterioration escalated like a bullet train.
Questions were asked. Internet searches were done and the alarm bells began to sound. “Used for teen-age males with schizophrenia”… “High morbidity rate for seniors…”
Medical staff were confronted. Voices were raised. Changes were made. But the damage was done. A brain and a body can only handle so much.
Win’s story shouldn’t be true but it is. Minutes transformed her from a carefree housewife to a chair bound resident in a care home. Her husband hovers protectively six hours a day and her daughter and friends another three.
The tear for her grand-daughter was a little miracle. Sometimes Win doesn’t even know those to whom she gave birth. Many times the family has gathered as medical personnel tell us we are near the end. But each time Win rallies. Through two weddings and the birth of four babies she has rallied. She continues to pull us to her with the memories and magnetism of years gone by.
The pain is as great as the joy. Win is cared for in ways where inhibitions are a foreign language. Despite her open speech she has been a modest and virtuous soul. Now she is left to combat her shame with the little dignity she can muster.
Tears run down my own face as I picture my moments with mom. The pictures in the scrap book seem to capture a different soul than the one I see strapped in this chair. The melodies and screams I hear from this throat seem so different than the songs that echoed off the tiny mansion built with love by dad. Win’s story shouldn’t be true but it is.
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