After support group last night, some of us went to Zocalo, a Mexican restaurant in the Grand Central Station concourse, for margaritas. To protect the innocent, I will refer to the ladies as "S", "L", "D","A" and "E."
There is always a victory to celebrate, large or small. S was too exhausted to join us: she had spent the day getting her mother settled into a nursing home, the one of her choice. It had been a long time coming and she and her sister were both relieved and sad. None of us like putting our parents “away.”
L had recently returned from a trip to Israel and told us of her adventures and the smolderingly sexy Israeli soldier who was checking passports on a bus she was on. She wished he had checked hers. She floated in the Dead Sea, and brought us back special bars of soap labeled “salt” and “mud”: salt for dry or normal skin, and mud for oily. She went to the Wailing Wall and felt the presence of God, but could not explain further. It was very personal.
The Wailing Wall, Jerusalem
I told of her of my moment at the prayer wall on route to the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey. I wrote a prayer on a napkin and tacked it on the wall, and collected holy water in tiny clay pots with stoppers: one for me and my husband, one for a friend and one for mom. I also bought mom a set of rosary beads from the site. She keeps them on the antique glass-topped coffee table near her bed.
Prayer Wall, Ephesus
When the first round of margaritas came, D got a call from her husband saying that her mom was asking to “go home”, something she does from time to time even though she lives with them. D talked to her mom and tried to calm her down. A told us about the Come to Jesus Meeting she had with her dad after he bought a Lexus for her mom’s birthday. Last time her mom drove she got lost on the way to the supermarket, and she and other siblings had to find her.
E’s dad had an intestinal bacterial infection and was in the hospital. Her daughter was home from college on Passover/Easter break. She missed group but joined us later for drinks.
I told the ladies it was the Week of the Wheelchair for me. The most-hated object arrived at mother’s on Monday, and she has been ranting about it ever since: about not wanting it, how the aide put it on the balcony but she still couldn’t stand the sight of it, how I was “making her into a cripple,” and “taking everything away” from her. I could have used a third margarita but had to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the office today. I never really feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed these days, usually just beat, but I try.
After the bill was paid, L led me to a corner of the concourse and instructed me to face the wall and be still. I asked her why; again she told me not to move or turn around.
A few minutes later I heard her voice like a whisper in my ear, “Erica, can you hear me?”
I thought she was playing a practical joke and that she was standing right behind me. I turned around and saw her standing in the opposite corner facing the wall, at least thirty feet away! Her voice whispered to me again.
I burst out laughing and said, “Oh my God!” A passing tourist saw my face and said, “Isn’t that amazing?” “Yes,” I said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and never knew about this.”
The other ladies in our group took turns speaking into the wall, then some teenagers did the same. At home I went online and read about the phenomenon called the “Whispering Wall,” one of the seven wonders of Grand Central Station. Apparently the arched design enables this bit of acoustical magic.
The Whispering Wall, Grand Central Station
Here’s to the ladies who love unconditionally, who change diapers for and bathe their parents, hold their hands, read to them, rub Voltaren into aching joints, bring them clean sheets and clothes, who, at times, endure verbal abuse no matter how hard they try, who tuck them into bed at night and wish them sweet dreams. Here’s to the ladies who brighten my day.
Chag Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter to all.