I’m here in Florida taking care of my mom, who was run over by a golf cart and broke her leg. It’s been raining since I arrived, and there are T-storms in the forecast ’til I depart. Then my sister takes over where I left off, with ’round-the-clock TLC. Anyone who knows my mom knows she’s a trooper who’s been through a lot—which is why this broken leg is such a bummer—she was doing great when it happened; working out at the gym, golfing, planning to travel. Since she’s got a great outlook, optimism comes easier to us. I decided to make a list.
The Bright Side of a Broken Leg
Candy. Lots of chocolate. Toffee. Bark. M&Ms. Caramel corn. Dipped pretzels. Dipped fruit. Confections that will long outlast the flowers.
Tea & sympathy. My mom, my sisters, and I have a longstanding tradition of tea time and snacks after dinner, sometimes with a round of Rummikub. We catch up, joke around, and enjoy each other’s company ’til we can’t keep our eyes open. Good times. With my mom laid up, we’ve kept the tea and chat flowing all day long.
Rainy day? No problem. Daily rainstorms may be just what the doctor ordered. I’m here with our toddler, and if it had been sunny, we’d probably want to be out n’ about instead of home cooking, cleaning, and tending to chores and errands that really need to get done. It’s not like I’m standing at the stove thinking, “I should be out there, by the pool, under a palm tree.” Cooking has been my main support function while I’m here, and it’s satisfying to hear my normally finicky dad say, “This is delicious! You’re a good cook!” He sounds so surprised, but I give my mom all the credit. I learned by watching her cook over the years and my recipes emulate her style and palette.
As an aside, I’m excited to report that my husband and I signed up for a Healthy Mediterranean Cooking Class in New York. You’ll hear about that later!
Surrender. There’s a steep learning curve ahead, both for my mom and the people she now has to rely on for help. We’ve never pushed a wheelchair before. Maneuvering around corners, we must be careful not to bump her immobilized leg. Then there’s a walker; pillows of various shapes and sizes to support the patient and her leg; breakfast trays; and other medical paraphernalia needed to sustain life as a flamingo.
It must be really hard for the head of household to relinquish control… I think I’m doing a good job keeping the kitchen spotless (another habit I emulate), but we all know there’s nothing like one’s own handiwork. She must surrender and accept our best efforts to help, and we must fill our roles as helpers gracefully, because, after all, this is our mother, our nurturer, and she deserves only the best care when she needs it. It really is a pleasure to wait on someone like my mom, who’s so polite and gentle.
Connecting with friends and family. I saw a couple of favorite cousins, and wish I could see more extended family more often. It shouldn’t take an accident or worse, but Thanksgiving threatens to become the only time we gather, unless we make a concerted effort. That’s the world today…sigh…
The unexpected bonus is the quality time together. Our daughter gets to soak in her grandparents’ love in unhurried, uninterrupted snugglefests that foster a relaxed sense of belonging. Adela is 22 months old and loves being read to—rather, she’s obsessed with it. We all love the feeling of her curled up in our laps like a cat, but by the 50th read of Thomas the Tank Engine (because it’s one of only a few books we have at the vacation house), steam starts coming out your ears. When we’re in town for a wedding, bar mitzvah, or holiday, everything is rushed and the focus is on logistics.
Right now I’m curled up in my parents’ bed writing, reading, listening to crickets serenade, and making the best of an otherwise unfortunate incident. Because that’s what this family does. We support each other through tough times, and a cooperative spirits makes us better able to carry on living.
Toughening up. We’re told from the outset life will test our mettle. We don’t know what form they will take, but life lessons do tend to bowl us over at first. My mom’s the toughest and wisest woman I know. The “Bionic Woman” also keeps a sense of humor. Let’s all wish her speedy healing. She may be dancing on one leg for a couple months.