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make your day dance

My other life

May 23rd, 2011 · 7 Comments · Tags:

I haven’t written much about dance education this year. 16 entries, in the same time I wrote 42 last year. It’s not because I don’t think about it. I have lists of thoughts I mean to translate into communication: Carly’s blog, dance for boys, new DVDs & resources I’ve found, LXD, inspiring TED talks, integrated lessons from Arts Impact, a performance by an autistic boy in Britain

This year I’ve often found myself thinking, “When am I going to get back to my own life?” My work, my blog, my garden, family & friends.

I was thinking it yesterday as I was sitting in the emergency room with my mother… doing her laundry & dishes… giving away theatre tickets for last night… ignoring my to-do list for the upcoming performance… deadheading the flowers in her garden.

But then I thought, “This is my life. There’s nowhere else to be.” This is my other life. For the past few years, I’ve been the main support on my mother’s journey into her late years — not a path anyone would choose, least of all my fiercely independent mother. She was herself the caregiver for my grandmother — and was determined not to have anyone have to do the same for her. But it’s definitely a journey a person can’t — and mustn’t — do alone. And I’m grateful there are things I can do to make it easier for her.

Oddly enough, it’s a path that’s sort of lonely in the same way that being a dance educator in a public school is.  There are other people doing it, but we’re each in it alone. I know this from other people who reach out — like Jane Gross, whose book A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — And Ourselves was reviewed in the Sunday paper this morning. I should find time to read it.

Anyway, it’s my life just now. Bittersweet is a good word. And enlightening. I’m gaining insight about memory, as I watch hers dissolve. About myriad ways we control our lives, as I see her having to let go. And about the tenaciousness of personality, as she continues to be her stoic, optimistic, cheerful & gentle self.

I’m lucky — in so many ways. My mother is herself & she knows us. She’s living in a community that supports her as she changes. She has a dear friend and neighbor to spend her days with. And I have huge support at home.

…and I have another life, as a dance educator, with kids and classes and thoughts to distract me every day. Just not much time to write and communicate.

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Malke

    This is so touching, so beautiful and, most of all, so true. I’m on the other end, with a young daughter who I am healing from her lifetime’s worth of non-typical, delayed food allergies. Special diets, tracking supplements, tracking symptoms/behaviors etc. takes up a *lot* of my days (and nights). I often wonder when I can get back full time into my other life, but you’re right — this *is* my life, all of it, in one continual juggled arc, around and around.

    I always love reading your thoughtful and inciteful posts. Thanks for this one!

  • Antony

    I think you’re a happy person. Some people make such things – a personal problem. They blame themselves, have s psychological issues. As I see, you-re not the one of them. It’s great.

  • megrm

    Malke, thanks for your response! I’ve enjoyed what back-and-forth we’ve had time for this year. And I’ve had you in my mind as I’ve caught glimpses of your concerns about your daughter’s difficulties on Facebook. She’s so lucky to have you on her side! Wishing you the best…

  • megrm

    Antony, thanks for stopping by & leaving a positive thought! It’s really appreciated.

  • Deborah Robson

    Wish I could be there doing more. I’m glad that Mom has you close, and that I’m able to get there and spend a week now and then. Right now I’m in Salida, across the front walk from my friends Susan and Richard. Richard has brain cancer, and Susan is his caretaker–with a father down in Denver who also needs help, even more since her mother died not long ago. You may enjoy her blog. It’s Walking Nature Home, at . Today’s post especially.

    Even when the surrounding circumstances are as good as they can be, our society doesn’t make it easy to care for family members as we want and need to.

  • Susan J. Tweit

    I sometimes wonder where my life has gone too, and then I remember, as you did, that this is my life. Last year, I split my caregiving time between my mother, who died at home this past February, and my husband, who is learning to live with grade IV brain cancer. I would never have asked for either journey, and both have enriched my life immensely. Helping my mom and my dad through my mom’s decline and death was a transcendent experience–she and I learned to appreciate each other in ways we wouldn’t have otherwise. Sitting with her, holding her hand, administering her pain meds in her last hours, seeing her reach a place of peace and, yes, joy, before she died. That was all a gift. Exhausting too, but I wouldn’t trade the experience, just as I wouldn’t trade away the gift of walking this journey of brain cancer with the man I’ve loved for the last 28 years. I say this to say, first, bless you for being there for your mom. And second, bless you for recognizing that this is your life, along with being a dancer and dace educator, a woman who is walking a loving and creative path in life…

  • megrm

    Thanks for the thoughts, Deborah — and Susan… I’m glad I had a chance to meet you & Richard when we were on our way to Taos a few years ago — and see your lovely place! I’ve been sadly aware of your journey over the last while & I’ve appreciated before, as now, your eloquence at expressing the rich & painful process!