Up and down weather, fooling us with spring then turning cold. Thursday, April 2, was a spectacular day all sun and flowers. Walking along Amsterdam Avenue, we saw the white peacock who lives in the garden that surrounds the famous Episcopal cathedral, St. John the Divine.
I began taking pictures from across the street, soon realized the peacock would not be leaving soon.
We crossed 111th Street for a closer look. She (Ron's guess) seemed to be doing a "preening performance." We began to talk with Harry, the fiftyish son of the woman in the wheelchair who lives in a nearby nursing home.
An unmarried man who works as an elevator operator, he visits her every day. She has dementia. The toy dog she holds on her lap, very real to her, is one of two always with here.
They provide so much comfort, Harry explained, that when she refused to eat after her leg amputation, the dog provided a solution.
In much detail, he told how he demonstrated that the dog was still eating-- fed the dog as his mother watched. She began to eat again. He also washes both dogs to keep them clean. The one on Momma's lap looked pristine. the one she holds in the photo is the $60 one he found to use while the $20 dog is drying.
Our time with Harry moved us into another world, the one where a grown child dedicates most of his or her time to caring for a declining parent. My sister-in-law did that for her mother. Usually it is the daughter who takes the responsibility. My own instincts have always moved me to believe I'd never want to burden my own children in this way. But even using the word "burden" indicates how far my world is from Harry's. His comfort with his role moved both of us, let us feel that we, in turn, were adding to his pleasure by taking time to talk about his family and ours.
When people ask if I will miss New York when we move to Portland, I think about these kinds of moments. Harry's mother enjoys the sensory stimulation of the City. I do too.