Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?
It’s a sad fact that my Big Mama is rounding Turn Four. She had a major episode last month with dangerously low blood electrolyte levels, and I made an emergency trip back to see her–just in case. Big Mama has long been the stalwart matriarch of my maternal lineage, the Baxters and the Morrises–and has been a good friend to the Eargles even after my parents’ divorce; so it should come as no surprise that it’s a big deal when she gets sick. Big Mama doesn’t pick sides, she loves her family–even the divorcees–and she’ll put anyone who wants to engage in petty squabbles right in their place. (Funny story here: when I went to visit her in the nursing home, she demanded that my dad come visit her, too. “I don’t care if [my mother] doesn’t want him here! She’s not the one in this bed! You call him and tell him to come over here!”)
It’s been rough on all of us, and we’re just taking it day-by-day. I try to stay in touch with various members of my family, just to keep tabs on what’s going on. The worst part is the fact that no one can accurately tell me what’s going on. Sometimes it seems like she’s on death’s door while other times it seems as though she’ll be on her feet and out the door tomorrow. For me, I look at it the most optimistic way I can: She’s 92 and has lived a good life. She’s the head of a loving (if rather dysfunctional) family, and she’s made her peace with God. She’s strong, but she’s tired, and she’s hanging on as much for our benefit as she is for her own. I’m glad I got to see her a few weeks ago. Maybe she’ll hold out for at least a few more so I can see her again.