Sunday, October 28, 2012


Dear Temple,
I hope this note finds you well and happy. Dropped the boys off for their visit with their biological mom this morning. I pick them up at five. Elijah and I went to church. I would have probably skipped it but he was insistent, so we went. He's such a good boy. He also didn't have to wake up several thousand times last night. I don't know what was up with our dog Delilah. She barked a lot last night. Normally she doesn't say anything. She's getting old and I'm sure when I'm old I'll do a lot of barking at nothing too - so I guess it's par for the course.
My grandmom - What a terrible bridge to this conversation. I talk about my old dog barking at shadows and that leads to talk about my deceased grandmother? Yes I am. She was a wonderful woman, but neural synapses are going to fire how they do and I am powerless to stop them. Anyway, my grandmom who has since passed on, was in a nursing home for a long time. She lived independently in an apartment for a long time, and as long as possible. She once told me that when she planned on living only a few months when she moved into the nursing home. She was wrong and the years wore on for her. She used to tell me when I was in town visiting that she didn't know why she was still alive.
"Why don't I just go ahead and die?" She said.
"I don't know," I said.
"I can't see anymore. I'm in a lot of pain and I can't do anything for anybody," she said.
"You're making me happy just seeing you," I said.
"That's a bunch of phooey," she said and she was right.
My grandmother wanted to die a lot earlier than she did. Time is a funny thing in that it is a singular difference in something we are bound by and God is not. He created us and he created time and he created us to live in time. He doesn't have too, obviously, and sometimes this can create a lot of strain on us humans because of this. A million years is as a day to God, but a million years is a million freaking years to us. My grandmother entered the nursing home and then went blind, couldn't move, couldn't do anything but sit or lie down and talk and even talking hurt. What's worse is that you get put on all these drugs for the pain that make you say and do things you normally wouldn't. What's worser than worse is that you can live long enough in that state and people start remembering you like that instead of the vibrant person you used to be. My dad once told me that everything vital to life works in her, but everything extra is gone.
What's the point of living like that? She buried her husband and three of her children. Who wants to live longer then their children? Me, that's who. Just kidding.
So when my grandmother asked me on a few occasions why she was alive, I didn't know why and couldn't tell her. Sometimes I would tell her that God new why, but I think we both thought that answer was a little weak. I think we both thought that God kind of forgot about her.
But then it happened.
My father died suddenly several years ago and things were a mess. We went to go see her and let her know what the arrangements were for the funeral. My mom was a mess. My sisters were a mess. I was a mess. There was my grandmother. She was sad, but, I don't know, solid. She sat in her wheelchair, blind and in pain, and seemed strong and even enough to hold up everyone herself. She didn't blubber. She didn't whine or complain. She just started talking, practical and in charge.
"Well we just need to cut back," she said. "I don't have to have my hair cut every week..." she just went on listing things she could do to help right the ship that had just took on a lot of water.
"Darn Straight Grandma," I thought, but I thought something else too. I was thinking about our conversations as to why she was kept alive and so many years in pain. Maybe it was for that moment in time where her strength was needed for our family. Maybe God hadn't forgotten about her after all. She was paying the bill in spades for our blessing, but sometimes blessings come from pain.
Then the door shoved inward and I heard the nurses shouting "Maynerd! Don't go in there Maynerd! Maynerd!" This dude was shoving his wheelchair backwards into people's room doors trying to get in. He had a look of incredible intensiveness on his face. I tried to meet his eyes but he didn't look at me. He didn't want anything but to get in the room. His face said, "Booyah, I'm in!" while the nurses scrambled to get him out. I'll never forget that guy. All those ladies yelling "Maynerd!" ha ha ha.
If I ever end up in a nursing home, which I will, I want to be like Maynerd. I don't want to just sit there without purpose. I want to wake up and get in my wheelchair and create enough havoc that they will put a little extra juice in my IV drip to knock me out.
I love you much and miss you always,
                      Uncle Justin

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