Sunday, June 03, 2007

Strawberries, a Party and a New Pair of Earrings


Almost all of Oregon's strawberries are grown west of the Cascade Mountains, here in the Willamette Valley. Fertile soils, mild winters and relatively cool summers allow growers to produce high quality berries with good flavor, color and texture. Our strawberries are exceptionally sweet and an usually red color compared to berries from other states.

Our tiny backyard berry patch allowed the picking of just a few ripe berries to bring as a gift to my 91 year old mother-in-law. An enticement and a reminder of the world outside of her nursing home walls.... in hopes of our convincing her to join us in a great-grandson's high school graduation party.

After three previous rejections, we just showed up with a pair of her freshly washed and ironed white slacks, her favorite blouse and (suprise!) a new pair of earrings. It wasn't the berries or the slacks or even the blouse that did the trick...I think it was finally having a pair of earrings to put in her 'naked' ears that had gone without a single pair for the entire two whole weeks away from home, that finally did the trick! But in any case, sending my husband out for the blusher and lipstick, while I got her all gussied up, I managed to get her into a wheelchair, hair fluffed, blusher, lipstick and new earrings on, and then with his help, into a car, and off to join family and friends!

It was a beautiful, sunny day. And although we only knew a few family members, her adult grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered around "Grandma's" wheelchair to greet her as she smiled cutely with new earrings proudly displayed on her little ear lobes. We had good food, ice cold drinks, young children to watch playing their lawn games, and a sweet little great- grandmother enjoying every single moment of it, all.

It was worth the effort, the work, the preparation and the process. For one day, she was back to being a part of the big family and could see that as hard as it might be to do it all, her life doesn't have to be confined to a small, dark room and a television set.

As Emily Dickinson said:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all....

Sometimes, to give hope, we have to be hope. We perch quietly, singing our songs without words and we keep trying and trying. We may get 'no' for an answer, but if we don't give up......we discover that each of us still has a song to sing in this world and we get others to sing their own songs, as well.

A song to sing, fresh strawberries to eat, and maybe, just maybe...a new pair of earrings!

5 comments:

  1. You sure did work wonders with your mother-in-law. It is always good to have the whole family together for celebrations.

    Congratulations to your son!

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  2. What a wonderful thing you did for her, and for the rest of the family. Wonderful memories made for everyone. You are obviously a very special daughter in law.

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  3. Great and beautiful these strawberries but naturally good! GNUMMM :))))

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  4. Oh, Michele! I needed this... thank you from the bottom of my heart. I try so hard sometimes and feel continually rebuffed by my attempts to help my own mother in law, she so fiercely wants to protect her independence and it's growing so hard for her! I love the words of Dickinson and need to BE hope. I am deeply appreciative, it's no coincidence that this came to me now.
    God is so good, and so are YOU!

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  5. At this moment, this sliver of time shaved from the ends of a day, YOU are my earrings. Soft and lusterous, shimmering of pearl;bright gold and shiny, new and round like the world; a flash of light and frozen fire in the sparkle of diamonds; the depth and sway of the ages, creating shadows that play on my neck, a mix of turquoise and silver, pounded hard by brown hands worn with time; tiny blood red rubies; or a brillant blue to match my eyes...the sapphires I wear. What would you have them to be...these earring that are YOU, my friend? I send love.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.