Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lunch out

Today the cleaning lady came.

I feel so weird saying that.  It was whilst I was trying to be a teacher that we started this.  I had come to the utmost end of my rope, and then we found that this wonderful woman, whom I had known for quite some time, actually cleans houses and had an opening.

The first time she cleaned was like the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders (and I know that is a cliche, but it is just so very like how it was).  She came on a Thursday, and when Saturday morning dawned, I needed to lesson plan for four classes, grade approximately 80 book reports, grocery shop, do seven loads of laundry, and try to track down everybody's schedules for the next week and get the information all loaded onto the family calendar... but I did not need to clean.  For the first time since I had begun teaching, I felt like I could take a breath.

Since then, I've quit trying to teach.  But now I have to sell my house, so I thought it might be prudent to keep on with the cleaning help.  It is a little bit easier to spend a day dragging out old boxes and going through them if you know somebody else will eventually come along behind you and vacuum up the dust... as well as get to the bathrooms you neglected while you had your nose in the old boxes.  I say this in theory because I have not done very much going through old boxes; some, not much.

We vacate while she is cleaning. This morning I went to a Bible study, and then I met up with Shawn who was at Panera trying to use their free wi-fi to get some work done.  We are still getting the hang of this working-from-home thing, but I think it is a blessing to have scheduled cleanings.  Otherwise I would probably simply never vacuum at all, because there is always the threat of a telephone call from a client.

Shawn had snagged a table in the back, by a window.  He'd picked up his birthday present gadget (not an iPad, a Google Nexus) while I was at the Bible study.  Now he had coffee; I had tea.  He had a sandwich; I had a bagel.  We sat, and Panera bustled, full of mostly little old people eating soup from bread bowls.  Beyond the window, sprigs of February-dead rosehips oscillated gently back and forth, beyond them a silver Honda Odyssey, beyond that the bright red sign proclaiming Price Chopper.  It was a retail sort of view.

We needed to stay until the cleaning was done, and there was so much I wanted to say that I could not say, perhaps because it was busy and crowded.  Sometimes when your heart is particularly full, your throat gets clogged and constipated with words.  Bible study had filled me with disjointed thoughts on the gospel, forgiveness, restoration, the need to do a thorough housecleaning across our personal relationships.  Speech shunned me.

We took turns leaving our post because he had set his billfold and his Nexus on the windowsill, and his laptop was plugged in on the table.  He got the food.  I fixed my tea.  He selected his free birthday pastry for dessert.  I threw away some trash, ran into a friend, refilled my tea.  He tried to open his Nexus and get it started up.  I underwent a sudden stomach cramp and felt the need to leave.  It was nearly time for our housecleaning to be done.  We packed up and drove our separate cars home.

When we got home, I wanted to write, because something about those brown, dried up rose hips begged to be remembered, something sad and hopeful, barren and refreshingly natural against a sea of asphalt paving and yellow parking lines.

So I sat down, and the phone rang.  It was the doctor.   This one, a rheumetologist with a specialization in auto-immune issues, says I have Lupus.  He has already called in a prescription to my pharmacy.  "Which pharmacy?" I asked.  He didn't know, but I should start taking this medicine right away and probably continue for the rest of my life, unless my stomach can't tolerate it.

My house is clean.


Hope T. said...

Dear Ruth,

My heart dropped when I read the end of this post about your illness and the medication. My heart was already heavy from a very difficult week last week. Perhaps I just don't have the fortitude to face the challenges and sufferings of life, like others do. Sometimes I feel like I am almost sinking and, believe me, my struggles are meager compared to most other people I know.
I do tend to feel a lot of empathy for the hurts of others, though. (After all, I am an INFP.) You've been sharing quite a few hard things: having to let go of a dream, the logistics of a move, an empty nest looming, needing to quit your job and not knowing what is next, and now this call from the doctor. There is a lot going on all at once. I know I get overwhelmed easily by too many things going on. Add a couple of bigger things in and I am toast. Even if your fortitude far exceeds mine (of course it does!), this all sounds daunting.
I don't really know what to say except that I hear you. I have had a song running through my head ever since a young teen I know introduced me to it. You and I have talked about not really being "pop" music fans and I don't know much about the current music scene. In fact, Amy Grant and Keith Green are my reference points for what Christian pop sounds like. I heard this group called Tenth Avenue North, though, and they sing a song called "Worn". I thought you might like it even if it is not your usual style.
That song and the rose hips you saw......they are connected somehow. Seeking to sustain hope in an arid place.

ruth said...

Dear Hope, thank you for your kind heart. I am mostly in denial and avoidance right now. Day after day, I get nothing done, or very little. I listened to the song, but I think I would be more "worn" if I were actually working hard at something.

I do have a sense of hope, because I have longed to move closer to my family for over 20 years. However, a lot of the reason why I wanted to move closer was that I wanted my kids to know their extended family. Now, I am moving to the midwest, but my kids are not coming with me. I have a hard time picturing this, understanding this, wrapping my mind around this.

I keep feeling like it is all a dream, and I cannot really imagine that I will be in a completely different place six months from now. What I will do once I get there, how I unpack, set up a home, find a new church, try to make friends... I can't even begin to think about that. Right now, I just have to figure out what all the stuff is in my basement, and what I am going to do with it, and that's hard, because I can't usually even bring myself to go into my basement.

My Lupus medicine carries a risk of ruining my vision. This terrifies me. I do not know what I will do if I can't read anymore. I think this is much more real to me on a daily basis than the impending move, which still somehow feels as though it is happening to somebody else.

Hope T. said...

At least you still have your sense of humor, Ruth. :) I think you can be worn even if you are not physically working. The emotional demands of moving, especially after many years in one place, are perhaps even greater than the physical demands.

I went to our old house two days in a row and sorted and boxed and hauled and I was exhausted at the end. It was not so much the hard work (which I am not used to, couch potato that I am) that wore me out but just the meaning of it all. Reflecting on the past decade of my life in that place and having a hard time coming to terms with some of those reflections...

It is terrifying about the side effects of your medicine. That is why I hope you have a better doctor when you move. Maybe someone can find a way to treat one debilitating condition that does not involve possibly causing another debilitating condition. Perhaps he or she is right there in Illinois.