Diary 9/19/19

This year, my birthday falls on the International Day of Peace. What a wonderful concept, and a marvelous stretch for humanity to reach for. May we arrive there one day. I had a deep conversation with my friend about her becoming a member of the Quakers during WW11. As you can imagine, the war was a hot topic for a spiritual community that espouses peace and favored Conscientious Objectors. Is there a right time to take up arms to combat evil? It is a good question to ask again and again. My friend fell on the side of supporting the war effort and was admitted to Quaker membership in spite of that exact split in her particular meeting. The Quakers here in the Oberlin meeting have a very large, honest umbrella which makes for a very diverse and interesting community. Peace is still a mutual front and center concern. In our last gathering, someone sang the song I learned in Girl Scouts many years ago, “Peace, I ask of thee oh river, peace, peace, peace…” Many of us sang along remembering the words as we went.

My body is not peaceful, my back has not been pronounced fixable by surgery, though I see the second opinion doctor again next week. I did not yet have my MRI disc in hand, so with new x-rays, he could only be sure of so much. Based on that, he said he thought surgery would relieve just the specific nerve impingement running down the outside of my right leg. This causes an annoying symptom, a numbing ribbon that includes my three outside toes. It is not the major problem for me. Pain and weakness in my whole lower back is. I liked this doctor very much and if I did do surgery, I would probably go with him.

I left his office realizing once more that my issues are not simple to address- they are a many layered cake. Muscle atrophy remaining from MS, arthritis, which this doc noted as more significant than my last surgeon, recurring bouts of inflammation, which, if not MS, may be caused by another auto-immune disorder, and mild spinal stenosis altogether create this dense confection. It felt as if I was again facing the reality that this loss of functional mobility is not going to improve very much. Reality always wins any disagreement I may have. Going forward is more about managing my body, and I am deep into exploring a variety of hopeful solutions to address the pain. Somewhat lessened already, I am swallowing new drops and using creams of various kinds that have mitigated the worst of it.

It is ironic that the idea of becoming a grandmother exacerbates the battle of accepting my condition. The grandmother who bounces the baby boy as she walks around and sings him to sleep, the one who easily picks up and puts down a squirmy little fellow for a diaper change, the one who chases after a giggling toddler is not the grandmother I will be. I cannot help my daughter with cooking or cleaning or doing errands for her. The grandmother I am is safely sedentary. The grandmother I am cannot sit up for long periods of time. Who Grandmother Judi will be is yet to be revealed and I am working on becoming more content to let the picture unfold as it will, and not as I will it. That leaves more room for joy, a much more delightful state of being in which to anticipate my grandson’s arrival.

Peace I ask of thee, oh river, peace peace, peace.

When I learn to live serenely, cares will cease.

From the hills I gather courage, visions of the day to be.

Strength to lead and strength to follow, all are given unto thee.

Peace I ask of thee, oh river, peace peace, peace.

Written by Quaker Gwyneth Van Anden Walker in 1947

11 thoughts on “Peace

  1. what a beautiful day to have a birthday! I am so sorry to read about your back issues, I have had spinal surgery too and it is quite a ordeal. Prayer sent up for you this evening……..


  2. Happy Birthday, Judi. I so appreciate this post. I have thoughts: my mother’s mother had polio at age 2 and spent her life on crutches. Yet she was the grandmother love that I treasured. She would always welcome my brother and me onto her lap and bosom. She was pure love. Poor, without a permanent home as my grandfather was a migrant farm worker. She couldn’t pick us up, but we could curl up beside or crawl into her lap and she never rejected us or put herself first. This is what a grandchild needs. Life always intrudes on our plans and desires…and asks, Will you make friends with me? Over and over again you are asked to make friends with your body. On that note, I will email you about a great pain cream that I get in Italy. See if I can send you some to add to your creams. Love you. Celebrate you. Raechel


  3. Thanks Raechel, Your loving grandmother message is much appreciated. Don’t send cream yet- still working with hopeful new ones right now and I will wait to see if the immediate relief it offers can be maintained over time….xoJ


  4. It has been many many years since my grandparents passed away. I seldom remember the things they did for me or the things they did with me. What I remember most is how they made me feel. I have a strong feeling that is the kind of grandmother you will be…the kind who makes her grandchild feel loved and loved and loved.


  5. If only we all had grandmothers with your deep sense of presence! So what if you can’t “help” with the mundane physical tasks of life. Your presence is an incredible gift to your family – so much more valuable than doing the laundry or making dinner.
    Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to me too; mine is on Sept 26th. It’s a miracle to be alive, regardless of the condition of our bodies. Let’s celebrate!
    And let’s celebrate reality winning every time, regardless of what we think…
    lots of love & celebrations of life, Bonnie


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