Just Lulu and Me!
I spent the day today with Lulu. Lulu and I were swinging, feeding the birds, and watering our flowers. In case you don’t know about Lulu, I’ll explain that Lulu is a little girl on a stamp set from Kraftin’ Kimmie. One of my favorite hobbies is creating rubber-stamped greeting cards for breast cancer patients. When I saw Lulu, I knew she and I would become great friends.
When I was young, one of my art class projects involved enlarging a favorite cartoon character. My favorite was Little Lulu. When Friday night came around and my father brought home his paycheck, my sister and I were allowed to go to the newsstand and get a new comic book. I always chose Little Lulu. I loved her. She was a child who knew how to have fun. I remember that she seemed to spend a lot of time at the beach with her friends. I wanted to be like her. She had wonderful ringlets that framed her cute face and pretty blue eyes. So I got my graph paper and I drew her on the paper, coloring her exactly the way she was in the comics. I was so proud of this project that I saved it on the bottom shelf of my bedroom cabinet for years.
When I returned home one summer from college, I couldn’t find Little Lulu. My mother had gone on a cleaning binge, figuring that anything left over from my school days was probably now just junk and out she went. I never really forgave my mother for throwing out the one art project I did successfully, but today it’s hard for me to hold any kind of a grudge against my mother.
My mother’s first mini-stroke happened last August on her birthday. Two others followed in February, strokes that affected her right eye, a black curtain descending in frightening speed across her eye before disappearing shortly after. Then Easter weekend a fourth TIA occurred followed by a major fall with a head injury. There had been warning signs of this impending stroke all weekend, but we were visiting my daughter in New Jersey and my mother didn’t want to spoil the trip. Unmentioned was the strange feeling in her left hand and the two dizzy spells. I did notice her confusion and the way she kept losing things and dropping and spilling food. I just didn’t put it all together. After the fall, we took her to Urgent Care and then the Emergency Room, but the CAT scan seemed to be fine and we took her home. After she got into her apartment at home, things went terribly wrong. Another dizzy spell was followed by more confusion. She was unable to figure out how to use the phone, and when I went up to her apartment to help her, she tried to use a pen to make a call. She could not keep her balance and was not making sense, so we drove her up to the emergency room and she was admitted.
Three days later she returned home and home care visits were set up. She now has a visiting nurse, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist. She is slowly getting back some ability to do things we take for granted. She can dress herself, bathe, use a phone and the TV remote control (although not always correctly), and prepare food. She walks with a walker and is generally still very confused. I now spend part of every day at her apartment, and I make frequent phone calls to check on her. She has good neighbors and a Life Alert bracelet. Still I can’t sleep at night, and I wake up waiting for a phone call at any time informing me she has had a major stroke. This is the woman who had been active and busy up until last August. This is the woman who took care of my sister and me during our battles against breast cancer, a battle my sister finally lost. This is the woman who always tries to help out her neighbors as they struggle with failing health. It is hard to see what she has lost since last August.
So when Kraftin’ Kimmie stamps came out with Lulu, I was taken back to my childhood. I was the child drawing Little Lulu’s ringlets on graph paper or sitting on my bed with the latest Little Lulu comics. My sister would be listening to music in her room, my father would be painting, my mother would be cooking or sewing, and we would be a happy family together on a Sunday afternoon.
This Sunday afternoon I spent again with Lulu, not my Little Lulu, but Lulu just the same, Springtime Lulu playing and happy like all children should be. And suddenly as I stamped Lulu’s image on card stock, I was not thinking about the possibility of losing my mother. I was just coloring in Lulu’s pigtails as she sat on her swing, or fed the birds at her birdhouse, or carried a watering can to sprinkle some love on her flowers, and I was happy if even for a moment.