Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. -Pablo Picasso
Interesting week. Last weekend I was chatting with a new acquaintance and the conversation came around to the book manuscript I’ve written and the fact that it was on it’s second edit at the time. I haven’t said much to people and it’s sort of exciting to tell someone, “I have a book coming out early next year.” Exciting and daunting.
The next day, our computer crashed. Completely died. Tech support couldn’t help me during the two hour call and we had to take it in for service. In the process of reloading the operating system, everything was lost. I did have a backup copy of the manuscript, but I’d lost my journal, my documents, my digital portfolio…everything. Because, of course, I hadn’t backed anything up. Completely my own fault. But I wasn’t worried, because the manuscript was with the publisher, I had a backup copy, and I would just have to let everything else go. I was reminded of my mother-in-law whose condo had been flooded and all her records were lost. She had been the family historian and baptismal records, birth and death records, ordination papers, and photos were all gone. While she was sorry to lose everything, she adopted the philosophy that she was coming out of that flood lean and mean. I am determined to follow her example.
A day later, I got a call from the publisher about book design. He’d like me to submit some photos of my artwork to incorporate into the cover design. I’d given up my art career to take care of Mom, and including a painting would tie the story into the design. I have the perfect painting in mind. It was a watercolor of my Grandmother’s crochet work and the type of roses she used to grow. Grandma raised my mother, and then she raised me. It seemed perfect. I no longer have the painting, but I did have photo documentation of all the paintings I did over a twenty something period of time. I did. Once. Can I find the slides and records? No, I cannot. I’ve lost my written journal and my visual journal.
I haven’t given up the search, but we may have to move to Plan B for cover design. Stay tuned.
One day last week, I was sitting at my computer checking my email and observing the beautiful autumn sky through the windows. I was enjoying a leisurely morning and contemplating making a cup of coffee or tea when my cell phone started ringing.
After locating it and digging it out of my purse, I answered and my mom-in-law asked if I was on my computer.
“Yes, Mom. Why?”
“Oh, I’ll have to wait until you get off then.”
“Why is that?” I asked, thinking she didn’t want to interrupt me.
“Because you’re on my network and I can’t get on my computer.”
“What?” This conversation was not making sense to me.
“I get a dialog box whenever I start up the computer that says there are too many users on my network, so I’ll wait until you get off.”
“Mom, we aren’t on a network.”
“Yes, we are. You have my computer linked with mine, remember?” No, I didn’t remember because that wasn’t the case. She continued, “I have a little box that keeps asking me for my password.”
Now I was beginning to wonder if she’d been hacked and someone was fishing for information.
“Mom, we aren’t on a network. Our computers aren’t connected in any way. It sounds like your computer has a problem.”
“Can you come fix it?”
I looked at the clock, trying to calculate if I could make it there, look at the computer to diagnose the problem and still make it to the other side of town in time to pick someone up. The leisurely part of the morning was done and since there wasn’t enough time, I squeezed in a stop there before she went to lunch.
While I am the most computer savvy person in my family, I am by no means a tech guru. My prayer as I went up to their apartment was for a temporary spiritual gifting of tech repair. As I looked over the situation, I realized that Mom had been convinced that since her computer is covered under my name at the repair shop, that we were on a network. She had worked out while I was driving around that that wasn’t the case and was apologizing. She is aware that her memory is starting to slip and is fighting it as much as she can; there is an unspoken understanding between us of what is going on. I sat at her computer to assess the situation. Somehow, it was starting up in the administrator window rather than a user window.
Back in the day when I took a slew of classes to learn how to use different softwares, the instructors hammered it into me to never go into the administrator window. Don’t go into it if you don’t know what you’re doing. It is good advice. However I did it anyway. By the grace of God, I was successful in navigating around to get her back up and running, connecting to the internet and able to check her emails.
A small miracle to encourage me to keep going. And then, two hours later, another call.
“My hearing aid has broken into two pieces. Can you come and fix it, or take it to the hearing aid place?”
Here we go again, with more prayer and more miracles of grace. These small miracles encourage me through this journey and I am grateful.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.