• by Carolyn Lackey


Yesterday when I went to see Meems, she was asleep in her wheelchair "visiting" with her BFF*. It was a "sleepy day." It was 1:30PM. Nap time.

BFF: It's almost time for Bingo, Miss Helen!


Me (loudly and carefully enunciating): Mom! It's almost time for Bingo! Do you want to go to Bingo or do you want to take a nap in your bed?!

Meems (cracks her eyes open a bit and whispers): I don't like to take naps while I have company.

Me (smiling at BFF): We'll be gone by 2:00, so you can either nap or play Bingo! Which would you like to do?

Meems: Both.

BFF & I laughed. She really meant what she said. She loves playing games and sleeping. This morning as I thought about her answer, I realized that she has wanted "both" her whole lifetime.

Pumpkin pie or pecan? Both.

Hike or camp? Both.

Dance or sing? Both.

Sew or garden? Both.

She's a Both kind of girl.

Why settle when you can have Both?

That's given me a lot to think about this morning as I sit in the deliciously quiet solitude of my writing space. Writing both fills me up, but it also creates a lonely vacuum of isolation. What I need is people. And, writing. I need Both. I have a really bad habit of keeping to myself. A day with nothing on my calendar feels so freeing. I get that same feeling I got at Baylor back in the 1900s when I walked into a class and the professor had scratched out "no class today" on the chalkboard. Then, and now, I'd do nothing. I prefer calling it "The Fine Art of Doing Nothing." I have reached the doctoral level of TFAODN.

Remember jump roping during recess in elementary school? Schools seem to always have 8-foot long jump ropes sitting around. That long piece of thick rope becomes team sport in the hands of children. Two kids have to swing the rope. The jumper has to have the courage, the know how, and the expert timing in order to be able to jump "in." No many how many hundreds of times I jumped into a swinging jump rope, I was always a bit terrified that I would fall, particularly if my siblings were swinging the rope and feeling ornery.

That's the same feeling I get when I come out of my happy, albeit isolating, place. The world full of friends is swinging. I sometimes have trouble getting my timing right to jump back in. This tells me that I'm out of practice. I've chosen solitude for too long. I need to choose Both. But, ugh. It's so easy to stay home with no makeup and bad breath.

Thank you, Mom, for reminding me of the balance created in a world of Both. I have spent 3 straight days wearing absolutely no makeup. It's almost 11AM, and I haven't brushed my teeth. The laundry is all done. I have spent time with God, my keyboard and words. Now, for people.

Tomorrow, I have my monthly meeting with a few fellow writers - new friends who share my passion for words and telling stories. Then, I have lunch scheduled with longtime dear friends. I'll end the day with a deep tissue massage. (I have, out of laziness, put off redeeming my Woodhouse Day Spa GCs given to me last Christmas.) It will be a wonderful day. I will experience life-giving, invigorating Bothness.

Back to Meems. After visiting a bit with her and her BFF, I went to the office of her assisted living facility to sign her updated Plan of Service - "needs" When I walked back into Mom's dining room, she was parked at a table in front of a large print Bingo card and a tall stack of Bingo chips. She was in a deep sleep. The caregiver smiled at me and said, "I asked her if she wanted to take a nap or play Bingo, and she said she wanted to do both." You go, Meems. Both it up, girl.

What's your story? Are you good at balancing Both? Do tell. Teach me.

*Her BFF has received some calls from towns in Texas in which he knows no one. He worries that his exposure in my blog has opened him up for identity vulnerability. He respectfully requested that I not use his name in further posts. My son suggested that I come up with a pseudonym for him. With BFF's permission, perhaps I will. It is almost impossible to tell my mother's story with no mention of him. He is part of our family. If you live in Paris, Texas, quit calling him, for Pete's sake.

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