Follow the Distraction

This really happened, amid a time of deep worry and sadness for me as I watched my mother’s mental condition deteriorate, knowing she’d soon need skilled care and be lost forever emotionally, then physically.

Though the day was an unusually warm and sunny Saturday in mid-November that felt so normal and even comforting, my errand was to transfer the last of my mother’s money to her bank account so that I could pay her next month’s board in the personal care home. After that her Social Security would not cover the cost. I knew she should be able to stay, regardless, but fighting that battle, after fighting so many other battles for her, seemed daunting. We were waiting for a benefit for her from the VA  which would cover the cost but might never come. And that was all moot because her mental and physical conditions were no longer appropriate for that personal care home anyway. She needed skilled nursing, and there was no money to pay for it.

I took off on my errand focused entirely on the problem, trembling a little and almost nauseated with worry, not at all like me but the escalating events, constant doctor visits and tests and medications to remember and recite to yet other doctors and calls from the personal care home to calm my mother down had totally filled my days and my thoughts. Then I saw the balloons.

I really did exactly as I described, let it take me away into my creative self, then got back into my car happy, laughing, trusting that worrying myself sick would not solve the problem and probably only make it worse. I transferred the money, dropped off the check, visited my mother, took her outside into the beautiful day, then spent several hours just driving around to my favorite spots to look at the landscape, to photograph, to paint, to just be, talked to people I met about other topics, spent a tiny amount of money on a salad in the diner and went home relaxed, exhausted and smiling with a couple hundred photos that I have noted in my folder of photos with the date and only the word “Saturday”. Whenever I scroll past it, I remember the day, the sun, the warmth, the resolution, the balloons.

The next two years were indeed a constant struggle for my mother and her care. Letting go of the worry on that day let me walk the rest of that path without the fear and pain and let me focus on the issue, to be present for my mother regardless of other problems, and still run my business, have my life, and move on to resolve.

Below is a poem I wrote about the experience.


I had no explanation for
the exhilaration of color
floating above the street
undulating through the air
until caught on a utility pole
and identified as a bunch of colored balloons
held together with string
continuing to flutter and wave
against a perfect blue sky
that stopped me as I set out
worried and distracted
on a day of errands I’d rather not be running;
my brain perceived only colors
responded with joy to the distraction
as they moved overhead
and I stopped my car in the middle of the street, watching
as they enveloped the top of the pole, their strings tangled
and I pulled over, parked, left my car,
walked around them, watched them move, took many photos
forgot my worry
and as I drove away
was filled with the joy of colored balloons
against an azure sky.

The day was magic.
Later, they were gone without a trace.

poem copyright 2009 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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