So. I'm an Elephant person.
Elephant society is meaningful and complex, with the females in charge, keeping family bonds strong. They care for each other physically and emotionally. They deeply mourn the loss of any member, and remember those who have passed on.
I spent Wednesday morning with Mom. The forgetfulness that we've all noticed for the past couple years has worsened. She's becoming confused. Simple decisions are difficult. I could almost hear the anxious buzz in her muddled brain as she tried to choose a bag to bring into the store.
I don't know if she does, but I understand that this is one reason that I'm here; back home where I tried not to be. This is what I do. What I know. Dementia.
Up until recently, Mom would watch the kids for me whenever I asked.
A few years ago, she was my steady babysitter, one or two days a week. I wonder if she remembers the little trick she used to pull on me.
She'd come over to sit and ask me;
"So. Did you find it?" With an up-to-something grin.
She'd giggle through the house, leading me to what she'd hidden.
Elephants. She'd find one at a yard sale, buy it for me and hide it somewhere, on a shelf in the bathroom, the hutch, the mantel*.
Because she knows I'm an Elephant person. They are all over my house. Trunk up and facing a window for extra good luck. At least a dozen stuffed ones scattered around.
This is not something new. The Elephants and me.
When Owen was born, the day I got to the hospital, I bought him an Elephant;
The nurses would use it to prop up tubes and wires, or to rest his little hand.
Buddha is often depicted riding and Elephant, a symbol of strength and wisdom.
I'd been collecting trinkets, figurines, planters, vases, articles of clothing for a long time when I got this. For fifteen years they've been marching around my ankle.
Because I'd always felt the good luck working.
Ganesha, The Remover of Obstacles, has the head of an Elephant.
After Owen was born, Mom said the most ridiculous thing to me;
"If you didn't have bad luck, you'd have no luck at all."
I could have chosen to see it that way; that Owen's birth and what I lost in its aftermath as a colossal dose of bad luck. But what good would that serve?
No. Lucky that the plane arrived in time, lucky that he landed at the best hospital in the country for his particular condition to be cared for by the best doctor in the country for his particular condition. Lucky that I could decipher the medical jargon. Lucky that we'd been brought home, and had a place to stay. And a million other strokes of luck.
If one is a believer in luck, which I'm not sure I even am. Not luck as something external that is affecting changes in my life anyway.
Or maybe I am lucky, to have the right tools in my toolbox to avoid the 'Poor me' trap. To see the pieces falling into place and sort through them so they land properly, where they belong.
Maybe I learned these tools, like I learned to love Elephants. Maybe I was born with the tools, and born to feel connected to Elephants.
Yes. That's my birthday. I know. A boyfriend bought me this book after college.
Because I've always been an Elephant person.
And I'd still have the sweet little pink Elephant that was part of my childhood stuffed animal family, if Mom hadn't sold it at a yard sale after I'd moved away.
I wasn't terribly attached to it. Even though it was the first Elephant ever given to me;
By my Dad, who brought it to me in the hospital, the day I was born.
*One such Elephant found its way into Swap package. Display it proudly Alexis.