g is for giraffe…and gratitude

Just stick with me here.

glass giraffe

G is for giraffe and this particular giraffe came to me at a very difficult time in my life. I painted it. Before you get too excited about my amazing painting skills, this is a reverse glass painting. It was made by tracing the outline of the giraffe in ink on a sheet of glass (or plexiglass in this case) and then painting in the figure in an essentially paint-by-number fashion. Then you lightly stroke a dry brush through the paint to create the hair. You flip the glass over and view it from the other side. Still, I think it turned out pretty cool.

xstich giraffe

Be impressed by this giraffe. Be very impressed. I cross-stitched this and although it’s not an original design, it took about a million years. I think there are roughly 800 shades of brown in the little beast and no two squares in a row have the same shade. I’m pretty sure I went blind making this. It was, again, a rather hard time in my life.

giraffe

I’m not entirely sure where this giraffe came from. I might have bought it for Mom and Dad, it’s the kind of thing I would do. But I don’t remember doing so. Still, I’m the most likely culprit.

SmikG, whom I found on the A-Z Challenge, is writing a gratitude blog. She’s doing a far better and more interesting job than I ever did when I attempted that challenge. And she got me thinking.

This packing and sorting and throwing and keeping project of cleaning out the house has brought me feelings and memories. Some are a little hard to describe. Those of you who have known me for a while know that my relationships with Mom and Dad were not easy. Things with Dad were harder than with Mom, mostly because I don’t think she ever intended to be hurtful. She was not perfect, but the things that hurt in our relationship were due to her own insecurities, which she passed on to me. I have dealt with them over time. I learned to stand up for myself, to ask for what I need, to allow myself to feel and express anger without passive-aggression, etc. I have many good memories of Mom and we had a lot of fun together.

Things were harder with Dad. I still think that he did the best he was capable of doing, though some others disagree. Dad was mean. I’m not sure he always meant to be mean, but it felt that way. And at times it was clearly deliberate. And while Mom and I found a way past those old hurts, Dad kept dumping them on me until the end. There has always been more anger with Dad.

It was this difference that made the experience of Alzheimer’s with Mom both worse and better than it was with Dad. When Mom needed to go to the nursing home, I knew it was for her safety, that she needed more care than we could give her at home. With Dad, I didn’t feel sure that I wasn’t making the decision just because I could not deal with him anymore.

Maybe I should have stuck with giraffes. These feelings are hard to explain without going over old ground or massive amounts of explanations – which just isn’t my intent.

The thing is, all this sorting through stuff has brought back memories. Some good, some bad, but mostly things that help. They help move past the ugliness of Alzheimer’s. They help let go of past anger. I not only remember things, I talk about them with my young helper friend, T. There are times I fight back tears but more often, I laugh. Like when I was telling T about taking a gingerbread house kit in to Mom and how it wouldn’t stick together and Mom kept eating the roof. We made a giant mess and had to throw the silly thing away, but it was still fun. And funny or sweet memories of Dad have come up as well. Like those giraffes. There was a side to him that could be so very kind. I wish I could have had that side of him more often, but I’m grateful for those memories.

I’m grateful for the mess and that they never threw anything out. I’m grateful for the memories that don’t include anger or the pain of Alzheimer’s. I’m grateful that nothing is ever black and white.

I would be even more grateful if the packing and stuff were done.

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2 thoughts on “g is for giraffe…and gratitude”

  1. Lovely thoughts, Zazzy. It is strange how grateful we are that important people in our lives don’t throw things out because each one has a memory attached. (and indeed nothing is ever as simple as black and white) I still remember when a dear friend wanted to throw out Patt’s tennis shoes after he died, and I just about ripped his face off. I still have them.

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    1. It’s sort of interesting, but I find I’m able to let go of most things after experiencing and talking about the memories. Then there are things that I don’t want but don’t know what to do with. Last, there are a few things that I need to keep just because..

      And it would have been okay if they’d thrown out the hundreds of butter tubs and who knows how many magazines and calendars. Or even old clothes with holes and spots. But I’m glad they kept some old letters and report cards and the hideous applique picture I made them. It looked so much better in my head but Mom valued it anyway.

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