Alice Through the Looking Glass

jan

Alice Through the Looking Glass

jan
Back to full-time caregiving in Florida after my foray into the Land that Spring Forgot, aka Eastern Ohio. I spent two weeks with my husband, running errands and being reminded why I love his voice, his laugh, and his arm around me at night when we go to sleep. When I am in our Ohio house, it feels right, like I have always been there; and when I return to my Florida house, it feels right, like I have always been here. And I can't tell which life is the real one and which one is the reflection. My Ohio house is crammed full of chatchkes and memories of a marriage, raising children, successes and failures we created with our own hands. My Florida house is still my mother's house, which I have left basically untouched. But it is clean and neat and spare and well-maintained and gracious to live in (that  "Easy Living" Jimmy Buffet Lifestyle).

In one house I am wife, mother, pet owner, voter and concerned citizen. In the other house I am full-time caregiving daughter, mom, grandmom, sister, consumer of ripe strawberries and fresh pineapple. In one house I speak, am understood, challenged, comforted, have companionship. In the other house it is pointless to speak and there is isolation; Deaf must feel like this. Even though there are people around me, I am only too aware they have their own lives, AND THIS IS MINE. Still, there is a degree of self-determination here. I am my own judge and jury. The two houses are complete opposites.

We have made our summer plans now. In the past, my mother and I closed up her Florida house and spent the summer together with my husband in Ohio, getting re-acquainted and nudging, ever-so-slightly, his Man Cave into respectability.  Last year when we returned to Florida, the adjustment was too great, and I don't think anything is gained by putting my mother through it again. So instead of five months in Ohio with my mother, I will be spending about six weeks in Ohio and my mom will return to the assisted living facility for that time.

Sometimes when I hear friends' names mentioned, I can't remember if I know them from Ohio or Florida. Or if I see someone, I get confused if I really know them or they just look like someone from the other place I live. My checks still say Ohio even though I hardly live there. I'm getting established with a doctor and a dermatologist, a Florida "must-have". Maybe that's the tipping point: when you start consulting with a dermatologist, you've thrown in the towel, raised the white flag, you've crossed the line, you've bought the farm of southern living.

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