Navigating life with a teenager….who happens to have bipolar disorder

Archive for December, 2014

Storied Past: Blankets of Stars

Sorry for the silence, everyone.  I needed some time to gather my bearings with lots of changes that are going on around here.  Since my month of blogging in November, I have been thinking hard about what I am writing on this blog.  My intent when I started this was to share my experiences as the parent of a child with mental illness.  My hope was to help other parents in the same situation feel less alone….and to maybe open up other’s eyes to how society treats people with neurological challenges. My plan is to keep on doing that.  However, during my month of writing, I found that people tend to like my silly or sweet stories about people who have touched my life.  I have decided that I will continue writing those as a series I will call Storied Past. I think I will try to post them on Thursdays….you know, my way of celebrating Throw-back-Thursday. I thought I would initiate my return with just such a story that came to mind while I was decorating one of my Christmas trees.

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When CJ was a baby, I got an administrative job in the GI department of our local hospital.  Due to the nature of the office, most of our patients didn’t come on a routine basis.  Because of this, you didn’t have a chance to really get to know that many people well.  We did have a small handful of people who came for monthly appointments……and one of those people was Jane.

I met Jane the first month I started working at the hospital.  She was in her late 60’s, sweet in nature, always had a smile on her face.  The reason I remembered her among the hundreds of faces we saw every month was the fact that she always brought us chocolate.  She would say “Eating chocolate every day keeps the doctor away.  Clearly I never ate enough in my youth, so I am trying to help you learn from my mistakes”.  She and I always exchanged pleasantries as she checked in for her appointment, but our conversations never went beyond that.

After working there almost a year, I came in late one day following the court hearing to finalize my divorce from CJ’s dad. I walked in to find flowers on my desk from my co-workers.  My office mate, Lacey, made a point to tell everyone who asked that ‘no, it was not my birthday….the flowers were to celebrate my divorce’.  This usually got odd looks and sometimes apologies, but not when Jane came in.  The minute she heard that I had gotten a divorce she said “Good for you” and proceeded to tell me hilariously inappropriate stories about her past husbands. This began a very interesting friendship.

I worked in that office for four years and saw Jane almost every month the entire time. When she came in, instead of being seated in the waiting room, she would sit by my desk and chat. She would tell me stories of her life.  Her shop girl years working at the NYC Macy’s during the 60’s and funny stories about men she had dated or married….but it was when she told me stories about her daughter and granddaughter, her eyes would light up and she would get sentimental.  She would always tell me that I reminded her of her daughter, who she rarely got to see, due to distance.

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Now, every time I make a quilt, I embroider a small star in the bottom corner.

One day, I had brought in a quilt that I made for a friend’s baby shower to show Lacey.  As I was putting it back in the bag, Jane walked into the office.  She insisted on seeing my handy work.  She looked at the yellow and blue celestial print and proceeded hug the blanket.  She told me that every time her granddaughter would say ‘I miss you’, she would tell her to look up to the night sky, because all of the stars in the sky were filled with her love and good wishes.  Jane looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “you are covering that baby with your good wishes”.

As Christmas approached, I decided to make Jane a gift.  I sewed her a lap quilt covered in stars.  The day she came in for her appointment, I handed her the gift.  After opening it, she asked why I had taken so much time to do something for her.  I told her that I had made the decision to move away in the next few months and  I wanted to make sure I gave her my good wishes before I left. Jane asked when I would be leaving. I let her know probably by March or April.  Her response was “Good, I plan on moving to my daughter’s in February and I couldn’t imagine coming in here even once without seeing your face. “. She then reached down into her bag and handed me a gift box. Inside it was an antiqued metal Christmas star and the note attached said, ‘With love and all my good wishes’.

tree pics

I make sure to put my star onto one of my trees every year. This year it’s on my kitchen tree, because it reminds me of a cut-out cookie.