60 Days On the Mat – Day 17: Move Over Fear

Aunt Kathie -- December 2010

Aunt Kathie — December 2010

Today marked one week since starting the birth control pills with the woman who likes chicken n’ dumplings.  I couldn’t help but wonder how she was doing.  Is she taking care of herself?  Is she doing everything she is supposed to do to have the best possible cycle next month?  I guess these questions are bound to enter any control freak’s mind, though I am trying to let go of that – I have 43 more days.

I couldn’t go to my usual class today, so I took a Cardio Flow class.  It was only an hour long, but a good class.  I don’t generally like classes that are only an hour — not enough time to marinate in anything, but I did like the cardio aspect of it.  It was definitely a great workout.

My Aunt Kathie was on my mind as I drove to class this afternoon.  She is my mother’s mentally and physically disabled sister.  She has grand mal seizures — though they are milder and controlled now that she is older.  Her picture popped up on my screen saver right before class and it got me to thinking about some things.  I have always wondered if I was an only child because my mother thought I was “perfect” and didn’t want to take any chances (this “perfect” claim is highly debatable, especially when I was about 16).

My mother has always said she thought I was perfect and didn’t want to have any more kids.  She never elaborated beyond that, and I never asked.

Mawmaw’s life was not an easy one, especially after Kathie was born — actually none of their lives were easy after Kathie was born.  It was 1949.  There were no schools for kids like Kathie.  No assimilation.  My Mom was only 16-months old; she was still a baby herself.  By the time my Aunt Ann came along in 1954 things were in a groove, but still not easy.

We started the class standing up; not something I’m used to.  I’m not sure if I liked it or not, but I did like speed and immediacy of the flow.  I hadn’t eaten all day.  It wasn’t on purpose, but I do that sometimes when I am busy.  Forget to eat.  As a result, I was a little shaky.

Kathie and I fought like sisters when I was a kid.  I wrote about this in The Red Panty Distraction of 1978 a couple of years ago.  I spent almost all of my summers there for weeks at a time from the time I was about five or six.  Kathie was my buddy.  I would spend hours trying to teach her to read and write; it took me awhile to realize that was never going to happen.  When I was a kid she could still walk and run and compete in the Special Olympics.  Today she is in a wheelchair.

I was trying to lean into side crow today;  I’m still too scared to do this.  I can hold crow for a bit now, but side crow — still not strong enough.  I certainly wasn’t strong enough after no food.  If the truth be told, I actually think it is more fear than strength.  Most things are for me.  I wondered how much fear my grandmother had in 1949?  If you knew Mawmaw you’d think — not much.

Mawmaw tried to take care of Kathie at home until she was almost 80 years old — she was her baby — but it eventually became impossible for her to do.  Kathie lives in a nursing home near my Mom’s house in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.  My Mom is her primary caretaker now and looks in on her 4-5 times a week.  None of us can imagine a life without Kathie in it.  She has brought an enormous amount of joy to all of our lives.  She loves bingo; and loves buying junk with her bingo winnings.  She has an elephant memory, so don’t tell her you are going to do something unless you are actually going to do it. Her smile can light up an entire room.

In our final twisting pose, I begin to wonder what kind of a mother I would be if Kathie were my child.  My grandfather and Mawmaw had no choice in 1949.  Mawmaw always told me she was born normal.  She did not have her first grand mal seizure until the night of her first vaccination shots.  As a result, my grandmother never put much stock in conventional medicine or what doctor’s told her to do.  Her house was full of Julian Whitaker supplement catalogs.  I guess we’ll never really know the answer to her suspicions.

Because I have always had Kathie in my life; I can’t imagine making any other choice than raising the child God gives you.  I always just pray that at 44 years old He does not give us more than we can handle.

I almost went up into handstand today.  It shocked me.  Perhaps before Christmas I’ll get there.  I know it’s all fear.

We all fear something, I suppose.

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