Last week I got a call from my Uncle Chris’ nurse, Rose. “Mr. Chris done fell again.” She said with great disappointment in her voice as if her child had done something wrong AGAIN. I left work and drove up to Folsom, thinking the entire time that my two Uncles really should move in with us, or they should sell their country property and move into town at the very least. I felt helpless instead of annoyed because I knew that I couldn’t convince them of either option, and the best I could do was exactly what I was doing; I made myself available if they needed me.
My Uncle Chris has Alzheimer’s so when I arrived he smiled at me but didn’t really know who I was. He was lying on the floor and I asked “are you getting ready to do sit-ups?” He laughed and then told me I was a jackass. My Uncle is not a tall man but he is a big man nonetheless. I sat him up and squatted behind him and tried to no avail to lift him to a standing position. Rose unfortunately could not assist or I would be struggling to pick both of them up. Finally, I called the fire department to ask if they can get a cat out of a tree, can they pick an old man up off the floor?
The morning ended with a visit to the emergency room to examine my Uncle for a possible broken hip. He and I chatted about gardens, planting and landscaping to pass the time in between nurses examinations and X-rays. Uncle Chris is a retired and a once renowned landscape architect, who can remarkably remember the species names for noxious weeds and deciduous trees despite his disease. Don’t even get him started on planting any type of bamboo; he hates it. However, every ten minutes or so he’d look at me sweetly, smile and ask, “Who are you again?”
I can’t help but think of my dad, Chris’ older brother, when I’m with him. Then, I’m reminded of my fractured family who “done fell again” after my mom died. The Friedrichs clan I’ve decided must have some type of contentious or fighting gene like Pit bulls and Bantam roosters. I used to think it might be environmental with all the yelling that went on during our childhood years, but I see the vine running through the various branches & the members of our family tree. My husband Karl calls it the “crazy gene”. I like to refer to as the “Crawley Mean Gene” after my paternal grandmother, Nana, who let’s just say was angry-ish.
Due to the Crawley cray-cray gene and the subsequent misunderstandings, shall we call it, that erupted post-Mama, I no longer have my siblings in my life. I often tell my friends (who are my family) that when I buried my mom, I buried the rest of my people too. Daddy had died twenty years prior to mama’s death and the siblings were put in that hole in the ground with them.
I pray all the time for healing; for my heart to heal from the hurt. I pray daily for God to teach me forgiveness. My friend who is a nun told me that forgiveness does not mean necessarily that you must go back into the fray. But… sigh…there’s always a but…you have to go to the gate, open it, and be willing to forgive them. In Matthew 6:14 it says, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Later, St. Matthew talks about reconciling with your “brother” before you bear gifts at the altar or some nonsense. For now, I’m still at the gate, not yet to the path leading to the altar. And gifts? Please let’s not go there.
For the last three years my gate has been firmly locked with heavy duty chains and a titanic padlock. Recently I went into the deep with my faith and I decided it was time to open that gate. It’s open. No one has come.
I’m okay with that though because between you and me I can’t afford to fall AGAIN. Like my Uncle, who as it turned out did not break his hip or any other skeletal part during his mishap, I’m just forgetting it all.