Abbe’s Ruminations February 2024: Both Sides Now

Somewhere between getting ready to leave, reviewing my latest painting, brushing my teeth, and drinking a glass of my self-spritzed water, I lost the fob and key to my condo.

I remember my Bubbie and having to hunt for her keys. I always found them in the same place, a corner of her dresser, where she had taken a quick look in the mirror to make sure her reflection sufficed.

I never thought my Bubbie was forgetful or getting old.  I realized her thoughts ran ahead and often she left behind the physical.  Her world made sense to me.  I knew her patterns and her fears.  To tell her that age was taking her memory was like removing her heart. Both were huge.

I found my keys and fob under the paintbrush I had used for a quick tuning of the smoke rising from my latest watercolor.  I laughed at how the key merged with the silver tubes of paint and black handles camouflaged. 

I’m younger by eight years than my Bubbie was at the time I helped her. Although I’m a spring chicken in comparison,  I think of her more often now that I’m a Bubbie too. Each day I discover how close our minds and heart are entwined.  I miss her.

At the Grammy Awards, I watched Joni Mitchell sing with supporting artists, her famous song, Both Sides Now.  Healed from an aneurysm that almost took her life, I admired her will to continue what she loved, singing and painting in front of her fans.  Without support she would have failed.  I think  of her physical losses and the gains of a community of friends and people who rallied to support her.

Recently I found that my physical and mental wellbeing conflicted with my desires. I  dislike  driving but do so when needed. Four years ago, I found myself dizzy on freeways crippled by too many stimuli and quick movements.  Not just an aversion, but a physical sensation that caused me to turn off the road and rest my frazzled brain.  Smart and forward thinking, I moved to an area where I can walk to 90 percent of the places I need to go. I drive to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, to see my family if  walking isn’t possible.  All are within five miles on quiet roads.  No issues, no problems, no physical or mental ailments exist.

Last week I was called to Superior Court Jury Duty.   Oh my, what a spin this put me in, as I not only feel a moral obligation to serve, but genuine desire to participate in democracy.  The two Superior Courts In King County are too far away for me to comfortably drive. My ego and sense of moral being  collapsed.  I practiced driving with a friend and found the same physical issues occurred, as highways might be considered backroads, but still have four lanes of chaos. 

Faced with the dilemma, I felt inadequate as if I was declared not useful, handicapped, and irresponsible to society.  Until I talked with my physician who saw me as wise, one who knew her limitations, who was capable and articulate. Ultimately, I found that the Municipal Court not far from my home also offered jury duty.  I could serve and be helpful in the future.

I modified Joni’s lyrics to: I see life from both sides now.  I have my tears and fears. I swallow my pride,  More than anything, I have my Bubbie’s big heart and open mind. Life illusions include family and old friends, who can bend with me along the way. I see that now.

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