Friday, October 29, 2010

Backward Down The Path.

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.

"Ummmmm.  No."

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.


  1. Great post T.
    I think elephants are a great symbol of strength, endurance and GOOD luck-

    You ARE a very lucky lady.


  2. I am an elephant person as well!
    I always loved them and I even had an aunt that collected them, just like you. She had hundreds all over the house! Elephant flowerpots, elephants in the windows, tiiiny elephants in one of those box shelves.
    And when I saw wild elephants in Kenya a few years back on a safari I loved them even more. They are just so huge its unreal...

    But I don't have a tattoo and I don't really collect them myself so I guess you win ;)

    Have a great weekend!

  3. A truly beautiful post. I'm sorry to hear about your mother. I'm going through it with my father also. It can be hard at times!

  4. Such a nice gesture for your mom to surprise you with new hidden elephants. I'm sure those treasures are very special to you now.

    And luck is kind of relative.

  5. I've also heard that elephants are a symbol of fertility. I'll be placing one in my bedroom next week. ;-)

  6. Really beautiful.

    Sorry to read about your mom. She was definitely wrong about your luck though. It seems that once the dice were rolled and Owen was born, the rest of the universe lined up to help pull your little man through. A lot of pieces fell into just the right places.

  7. I didn't know that she hid elephants in your house. Cute.

    There's no such thing as luck in my book. All of it lined up the way it was supposed to. (And will continue to, so it seems...)

    Also. Damn.

  8. That sound you just heard? Me, blowing my nose (trunk) after bawling my eyes out reading this.

    You've written so many powerful, poignant things- this is so simple, so direct and so beautiful.

    I salute you, Elephant Mama.

  9. You say elephants and I think of my grandmother. She used to wear a little gold elephant necklace every day. Trunk up. Up until the day she passed. I now wear it.

    A very eloquent post.

  10. You go Mama!

    Beautiful post!

    Tammy and Parker

  11. Another elephant person here. I too have a collection (mostly on my mantel) and the first elephant I bought for my kiddo was the same one in that picture with baby Owen. Kiddo has many more now as well.

    If I wasn't so chickenshit and hate needles as much as I do, I'd totally get an elephant tattoo - trunk up. I doubt that even if I could muster the courage for one, I'd not have the balls to suck it up for an entire marching ring of them like yours, but yours totally rocks!

    Sorry about your mom's dementia. My father is starting to seem "flakier" than he ever has been (he's young - not quite 66) and his mother had Alzheimer's, so us kids are holding our breath and waiting to see if the "flakiness" turns into something more as time goes on. It's not easy to watch someone's memories slip away from them. (One freaky/cool thing about my nana's Alzheimer's though: after not having spoken German, which was her native language, since she was a small child, in her last 3 years of life she suddenly reverted back and spoke German all the time. When I was in high school - well before the onset of her Alzheimer's - I'd ask her for help in pronouncing the lyrics to various songs I was learning, 'cause I was a total geek who was studying opera and my voice teacher had a thing for German opera in specific, and Nana always said she couldn't remember a word of German. Then, years later, as her more recent memories evaporated, BAMMO she was speaking fluent German again.)

    Oh hell, I'm rambling. Off I go.

  12. April 18th is my birthday too! :)

  13. LOVE the tattoo! What a great post, too.
    PS- Not surprised you're an Aries. So am I. :)

  14. I love how your mom hides the elephants for you, and I am so sorry that her memory is slipping away. So very hard to see someone you love going through that.

    Elephants are strong, smart, and big on family ties. Not a bad animal to admire.

  15. Am sorry about your mom. I see something slipping w/ mine and I'm avoiding her in denial. I suck.

    I LOVE that you finally shared this about yourself, as I've been wondering.

    And now I have to read up about me, the unabashed extrovert!

    Hugs to you, my friend.

  16. Love, love, LOVE it. Love your outlook. Love your being there for your mom. Love the love you show for your fond memories.

    You're an inspiration, girl.

  17. sorry about your mom that really does suck, we went thru the long battle with Shane's Nano before we lost her last fall.

  18. So sweet, and now sad, that your mom would hide elephants for you, and then giggle.

    How very sweet.

    I'm also blessed with recognizing the lucky in my life. When my boys were all in NICU after being born early, after 5 1/2 mos bedrest with each one, I'm lucky I understood what the nurses and Dr's were talking about.

    I'm lucky we made it to 31 1/2 wks, and not the 17 wks when my labors first began.

    I'm lucky that I had my sister able to come live with me and take care of the other ones while I was in the hospital with the newest one

    I'm lucky they made it off the apnea monitors after 3 mos.

    I'm so lucky.

  19. My mother is slowly going off her rocker as well, while her body fails her. It is rather irritating. She tells me this isn't what she expected from old age. With having never addressed her diabetes or tried to exercise and fight to keep what strength she had, I don't know what she did expect. She has never actually carried one of my kids - she can hold one in her lap but she couldn't walk across a room with one. I think those of you with mothers who connect with their grandkids are indeed lucky, and I am jealous.

  20. Love your elephant love.

    I have a fortune taped to my fridge - "The harder you work, the luckier you get."

    Luck is all in the perspective. But I don't have to tell you that, smart girl. That shot of the book page gave me chills. Sweet Owen's hand on his elephant lovey made me smile. Oh angel.

    My 93-year-old grandmother was put in hospice care this week, "final stages of Alzheimer's." She's been battling it for close to 15 years. It's time. Selfishly, I look ahead and see my world in 10 years - dealing with empty nest and my mother.

    Thinking I need to go ahead and get on anti-anxiety meds now.

  21. Incredible, beautiful post. (Which Erin at The Mother Load tweeted a link to - Thanks Erin!)


  22. I've fallen into an interesting pattern reading your posts. I scroll down just a tiny bit after each sentence, hoping there's another. And another. And another, and another. Each one is a delicious fix in itself!

    Just wondering, is the password still Asshole?

  23. Audrey's due date was April 18. She came on the 19th. Dang.

    Your mom sounds so much like mine. It's hard to see them slip away.

    Are the tulips coming next?

  24. I saw an elephant watering can the other day and thought of you. I guess I should have bought it. Maybe it's still there.

    D bought me that book, it is mind-boggling.

  25. There you go again with all that positive outlook stuff... sign me up for your class, I am in serious need of a Tulpen bitch slap upside my ever 'woe is me' head. (kick in the ass would work too)

  26. Your mom. Wow.

    Owen's little hand on that elephant squeezes my heart to pulp.

    I don't believe in luck either

  27. Ah, now we know. Elephants are awesome. And so are you.

  28. Good people are elephant people. My Grandmother is an elephant person too.

  29. I do like a good elephant. Little o has the same elephant that's in Owen's picture. He got it the day he was born. May he have just your kind of "luck".

  30. excellent. love your writing in this post. love the elephant story.

  31. Well, thank you very much. I've been wondering about the elephant thing for a long time.

    So cool. I used to like cows, now it's angels. I'm fickle like that. :-)


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