Mary Ann Laing

From The Studio

(posted on 24 Dec 2022)



It's late-ish, I'm still on December 23rd but officially it is Christmas Eve.  Whatever we call this holiday, it really is a year end inventory on our lives.  I started decorating first day of December, only because I enjoy decorating.  Like making a painting, it evolves from original ideas that remain stuck in my subconscious mind since childhood.  I do believe those of us who had a happy childhood do love Christmas right through our entire lives.  Reflecting on the most difficult ones, I recall moments of pure joy and excitement.  Mom loved Christmas, too.  Even tho her later years were really tough at this time of year, she claimed she loved Christmas.  She also claimed it was way too much for her and she wasn't going to do it anymore, then we'd carry on and just do it.  I have had moments of saying Christmas has become a memorial service for things in our lives that just don't exist anymore.  I haven't felt that was an accurate description of Christmas this year.  It all still exists.  I can feel "Christmassy" by good triggers that happen from looking at bedraggled items I pull out of the giant boxes of decorations.  The inventory list still exists.  All of it.  The hard times, the happy times, that sudden burst of energy to want to stage another beautiful day where we share our gratitude for each other, it's real and still exists.

It is much easier now in so many ways.  Michael J Fox says that Parkinson's is the gift that keeps taking, he is so right.  Getting through events like Christmas is a huge challenge when Captain Parkinson's is in charge.  Yet, at the same time, there is this lovely calm in knowing what we have to do, and are doing, is important and only bringing us all in our family closer together.  I don't call myself a caregiver, never have, in fact, would get irritated at people telling me I need to take care of myself now that I am a caregiver.  I call myself a co-pilot, really, on this giant Star Ship Parkinson's.  Much of the time I can relax because the Captain is in complete control.  There can be turbulence, tho, and without his co-pilot, we both would be in trouble.  Acceptance and willingness to adjust in order to adapt is also key.  I did all my shopping online.  All my gifts are wrapped.  The house looks beautiful, if I do say so myself.  

No matter what we are dealt, life does go on.  After spending this month of feeling the effective triggers on my life inventory list, I know I was born from a long genetic line of survivors.  Can't help but think about Mom all the time this time of year, but I think about her all the time all year long.  Lot's of " I wish I didn't say that " to lot's of " I wish I could talk to Mom about this right now " to... " I wonder what life would be like if Mom were still alive ".  I'd probably be on the phone with her right now instead of tapping this keyboard at 1:35am.  The inventory list is long.  I've also had lots of HALLELUJAH moments because Christmas is much easier now in so many ways.  I may not be good at that "self care" thing, but I am intelligent and sensitive enough to realize how lucky I am to be able to figure out what life really is all about.  Only took me 69 years.

It will be a calm and beautiful and chaotic and tiring and wonderful Christmas.  It will bring peace to our exhausted bodies, a sense of hope for new beginnings, and reminder of all we are so lucky to have in our lives, the strength of love that gets us all through most anything.  I am excited about our new year ahead, lot's of ideas being brewed in my painterly subconscious now, not being able to paint for a month is hard, but good to take a break.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!


Mary Ann