Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sandwiching for the Lunar New Year

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. I remember back to a Super Bowl Sunday ten years or so ago -- probably a tricky Monkey Year -- when our daughter left home at fifteen, to seek her way on her own. Today, four days after the beginning of the Ox Year, on another Super Bowl Sunday, ironically, Maki has moved home, twenty five years old, much wiser and seeking to enjoy family. She was working for the film industry in Salt Lake Citys until now. However, the grim economic news was followed by several movies stopping production. A whole year's employment dried up overnight. That was when Maki made a decision to be unemployed and looking for a job back at home in Eugene so she could be close to her Obachan. She is still saying, "I can't believe I want to be in Eugene." She had this desire to help care for an elder, lift their heart, ease their day -- and being with her favorite family member, her Obachan, seemed enough of a draw to bring her home again.

Her dad flew out to SLC help her drive, and they arrived safely in her bright red 1998 BMW last night after a long road trip from Salt Lake to Eugene.

Tonight felt sandwichy.

Tonight Maki is down the hall in her old bedroom/guestroom sick in bed with 102 degree temperature She's coughing away, drinking down echinnecea, gai mai len, a jar of juice and homeopathic night time cough syrup.

I left her to check on Mom who is just getting over being sick, coughing away. Something told me that I should drop in to see if she was sleeping all right. She wasn't. Mom was not only not in bed yet, she was quite disoriented. She hadn't received her 7 o'clock remedy which calms her mind. The time had long passed for it to be effective. I succeeded in getting her in bed but she couldn't sleep. She was very itchy and restless. I rubbed her itchy arms with lotion which soothed her, but afterwards, she couldn't relax her arms and held them up in zombie mode. No matter how she tossed and turned, Mom's arms stayed stretched stiffly out in front of her. Sleep was not going to happen.

Mom's roommate Clare who always wants the room temperature amped up began to complain that there wasn't enough air, and kicked off her blankets. If Clare is hot, then the room is definitely too hot for my mama. I looked at Clare, and back at mom lying on her back this time, with her arms still straight up in the air and thought, "It's time to advocate, squeak the wheel." I complained to the caregiver and she checked the thermostat. The temperature was over 80 degrees, way too hot. She turned it down and it began to cool. Mom was being goofy and making bird sounds. Eventually, she was able to put her arms down but still couldn't relax. She shifted to her monkey laugh. "KaaaaKaaaa KaaaaKa.. . . ." right in the middle of which she fell fast asleep. Weird. I have never seen anyone do that -- fall asleep in the middle of a laugh.

I drove home. It was late. As I walked in the back door, memories of Mom's "KaaaKaaaa" morphed into a coughing fit coming from Maki's room.

Will and I are officially sandwiches joining the others of our generation taking care of their parents and their children.

However, we welcome the good day ahead -- the help and company of both sides of our sandwich. Mom gives love like no other which fills Maki and us with giggles. Maki could do with some Obachan induced giggles after spending most of her life "unto herself."

For her part of the sandwich, Maki is a blessing to her Obachan and parents, now that she is grown up, excited about the possibilities the days ahead offer, ready to take her place in the community civic life, and looking for a job. Looking for a job has never daunted our girl. She likes all the scary challenges and looks forward to interviewing for a new job in a state with high unemployment, gets excited about selling something to someone who doesn't want it, and can't wait to ask for sponsorship from businesses for DisOrient in the middle of a historic recession. She wants to do it all.

It is a welcome surprise that Maki looks forward to doing stuff together with us, her parents. She wants to go with me to visit Obachan and looks forward to feeding her. Thank heavens! Mom happily takes food from Maki without resistance. After years of childhood competition with Margaret, Maki's excited to see her and her new baby. Maki's also looking forward to visiting Auntie and Uncle and all the Winnemem. She's announced we're going to cook together, take daily walks together. We'll see. All I can say is, "What a difference a decade makes. " It's a very different Super Bowl Sunday than in 1999. The Year of the Ox has opened with some major shifts whether from the White House or from our house.

I've been away from blogging but will soon return to it. Things are perculating. Other things are settling. It may be a hard year but it does feel like we're all in it together (ala Ox Year) -- all in the same sandwich -- and it takes the edge off of things. Happy Day 11 of the Lunar New Year!

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"from Outside the Belly" was also known as "TBAsian" from 2008-2010. Thank you for reading.

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Eugene, Oregon
I am a citizen of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. I am a Nikkei descendant sansei (third generation);retired teacher, involved in the Winnemem tribal responsibility to Water, Salmon, and our belief that the Sacred is our Teacher. Working locally for human rights and supporting youth leadership.