The 70273 Project

with a side of Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

Tag: nancy (page 1 of 22)

Spending Thanksgiving with Nancy

My vision of a daily diary quickly
disappeared in an unceremonial poof
as the days grew long and full. Here are the highlights  . . .
Animals are usually quite leery of Nancy,
scurrying to unimaginably small hiding places.
I was very proud of Mother’s cats
who didn’t run from Nancy,
but got up close with their curiosity.

Our daughter’s cats were not . . . well, they behaved
like cats usually behave around Nancy.

Our 1.5 year old grandson Calder Ray
(Handfull, I call him. I’ll explain later – it’s not what you think)
simply accepted Nancy as she is without  curiosity or question.
Here we see him plopping himself down
in front of her in the restaurant’s waiting area,
talking to her about getting comfortable
by taking his shoes off.
Nancy talks a lot about shoes – her shoes.

We made it to North Carolina  around 2 in the morning
(way past Nancy’s bedtime),
and that could be why she didn’t understand
that I wanted her to
sit on the toilet not the bathtub.
She wasn’t hurt,
and I did manage to grab both of her arms,
breaking her fall
so she didn’t hit her head.
But goodness, what a way to
kick off Thanksgiving week.

Nancy, who loves her bling and doesn’t usually
share her necklaces with anybody,
seemed quite willing to let Handfull
explore his feminine side with her new necklaces.

We interrupt this blog post to share a shameless adoring Grandmother
(I think I want him to call me Sugar) moment.

We take Nancy with us (almost) everywhere – to see Santa,
to the Christmas Tree
Lighting at the Village Green,
to breakfast in Highlands.
(But not to the grocery store because
her mobility is such an issue,
and she is unable to operate
a motorized cart,
and not to Asheville on Wednesday
because it was a long day
filled with much movement.
She spent the day with our friend Debbie
where she could enjoy some quiet time.)

Handful spent a lot of his exploding
vocabulary on Nancy last week,
showing her the waterfall outside the door,
then climbing up to chat
with her about this and that.

Nancy wasn’t interested in putting puzzles together
or drawing – perhaps because
of the constant commotion – but she seemed
to have a big time, as my Daddy would say, anyway.

On the drive down the mountain from
North Carolina to Georgia Saturday night,
Nancy made a Real Big Mess in the backseat,
something she found quite funny,
even 24 hours later.
Perhaps it’s because it’s unexpected
or maybe it’s because she does it so seldom,
whatever the reason,
when Nancy laughs, everybody around her laughs.

After picking her up eight days ago, we deliver Nancy
back to her home in Florida yesterday,
and after a 72-hour nap,
we’ll begin making plans for Christmas.

~~~~~~~

Were we living in Germany in 1940,
Nancy most certainly would’ve received two red X’s,
been called a “useless eater”,
and declared “unworthy of life”.
What a drab world it would be without Nancy,
Brad, Robby, Rachel, Kevin
and my other friends with disabilities in it,
and that’s one reason I’ll be making
more blocks, quilts, Middlings, and Minis for The 70273 Project.
Join me?

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Diary of a Week with Nancy: Day One

Saturday, 17 Nov 17
Fayetteville, GA
3:30 a.m.

The alarm clock goes off. The Engineer and I dress and make our way to the Atlanta airport. We are flying to Florida to fetch Nancy today and bring her home for Thanksgiving.

9:00 a.m.
Arriving at Nancy’s house, I ask her for a hug and get a two-armed hug instead of the usual lean-in-my-direction with her upper body. She’s ready to “go home for Thanksgiving.”

10:15 a.m.
Andy drops Nancy and me off curbside while he goes to return the car. As I toss the carry-on over my shoulder (I make it sound so light and easy!), freeing up one hand to roll the checked-bag while the other hand holds onto Nancy, Wayne Friday, a Southwest Sky Cap, leaves his station and walks over to the curb. He takes the suitcase then tells Nancy and me for us to stay where we are while he goes to get a wheelchair “’cause I can tell you need one.” He is gone several minutes, then returns smiling with a wheelchair in hand. As I struggle to get Nancy seated  in the wheelchair as expeditiously as possible so as not to hold Wayne or any other customers up, Wayne assures me he will wait as long as possible. He is calm, kind, and patient. I want him on my Committee of Jeanne.

He checks the three of us in, then pushes the wheelchair inside the terminal and down I don’t know how far to the elevator he says Andy will surely be taking. “This way,” he tells me, “you can see him right when he gets off the elevator and you won’t have so far to walk.”

“You can’t leave yet,” I tell him, “because I have absolutely no money for a tip, and if anybody ever deserved a tip, it’s you, Wayne Friday.” He chuckles and says, “Just keep flying Southwest. That’s more than enough.” When Andy gets off the elevator, just as Wayne promised he would, we walk back to Wayne so I can leave $10.00 in his hand. It’s not nearly enough, but all the cash we have. That with the letter I intend to write will have to do.

11:05 a.m.
We arrive at gate 120 and position Nancy’s wheelchair just behind the sign that says “Preboard Area.” Twenty minutes later, two women come – one pushing her wheelchair, the other walking hers – and get in line behind Nancy, but only for a few minutes, preferring to sit directly in front of the gate agent’s desk instead. He tells them that while they don’t have to go back to the Preboard Area, they will need to move because there’s a plane landing in a few minutes and people will need to go right through where they are sitting. Perhaps fearing they’ll be forgotten, they don’t budge.

11:35 a.m.
I take Nancy to the bathroom where women don’t wait for me to ask for help. They simply see what I need, and they do it, all the while offering me reassuring words as I apologize for inconveniencing them. I didn’t know until we had everything off that Nancy wears two pairs of disposable underwear, and I only brought one. There’s nothing to do but go back, fetch another pair, then find our way back to the bathroom.

On our second trip to the restroom, a plane has arrived, so there’s a line. The woman in front of me holds the hand of her young daughter, and when it’s finally her turn, it’s the handicap stall that becomes available. “You go ahead,” she tells me with a smile as she steps aside to let me pass.

Now our first trip was to the handicap stall at the far end of the bathroom where there is a sink and room for the wheelchair and my mother’s family. This stall is mere steps away. It is much smaller, and when I finally manage to get me, Nancy, and the wheelchair inside, I am sitting on the toilet with my feet on the arms of the wheelchair, the feet of the wheelchair touching the toilet, and not nearly enough room to close the door. Though it disrupts the flow of things, I open the stall door, stand Nancy up, then push the wheelchair out. I catch the eye of a woman and ask if she’ll roll the chair over to the little cubby I spy. It’s a small bathroom, and to leave the wheelchair just outside the door would mean nobody could enter or leave the entire bathroom. “Of course,” she says with a smile, and when I open the door to leave, I’m greeted by the same smiling face. “I thought you might need help again, so I waited on you,” she tells me. I resist the urge to  kiss her.

On the way back to the gate area, we twice navigate our way past a woman who is leaning on her baby’s stroller, texting while she walks in leisurely, mindless circles, oblivious to the presence of anybody else. Three men stand in the middle of the aisle – also texting – their carry-on luggage on the floor beside them. For a moment, I wish the wheelchair came with a “wide load” sign, flashing lights, and maybe even the back-up beep of a golf cart. We must get past them to get back to Andy. I scout out options for other routes, there are none. In response to my, “Excuse me, please,” one grumbles, one signs audibly, and the other does nothing.

1:00 p.m.
I find the spot for my boarding assignment A55, leaving Andy (who has a higher boarding assignment in the C group) to board with Nancy. Eric, the gate agent, motions for them to board first because we were the first ones in line to Preboard. He notices, he remembers, he boards in order of arrival. I’ll write two letters to Southwest – Eric gets his own.

1:25 p.m.
Comfortably situated in the first row of seats, we get to hear and see Flight Attendant Bingo (“After four girls, BINGO, we have a boy!”), and that right there is worth the price of admission. He is firmly in control of this flight with reins we are happy to leave in his hands because he is so darn fun and pleasant. Friendly, really, affable. He greets every person – not every fifth person, not every time he happens to look up, but every single person –  as they board the plane as though welcoming us to a party at his home. He notices the bling of princess attire (we are in Orlando, you know), the hats of fellow veterans, reads the t-shirs on the young boys. This is going to be a good flight.

3:15 p.m.
We arrive in Atlanta, and because Nancy moves at the speed of frozen molasses, we wait to let just others get off first. Every passenger makes a point to smile and say “Thank you” to Bingo as they leave. It changes the air we breathe, all that gratitude. Yes, Bingo set the tone for the fight, and he is pitch perfect. I’ll write three letters.

Bingo frequently glances out the door to assure us there’s a wheelchair waiting for us. He even offers to hold up the line so we can get off, and we tell him we’d prefer to wait a little longer so as not to back things up. Finally it is time for us to get off, and just as Nancy’s foot crosses the threshold separating airplane from jetway, we spy a woman take her seat in the waiting wheelchair while her husband gets behind her to push, and off they go in a great big hurry. Bingo hollers after them, but they don’t even look back. We get Nancy completely off the plane and stop. It’s the only thing we can do. As they exit the plane, the pilots tell us they’ll make sure somebody brings back a wheelchair. Nobody does.

A female gate agent comes out and says Nancy will have to walk because there are no more wheelchairs. “It’s a long walk,” I tell her, “this could take a while.” I turn around so I can take both of Nancy’s hands in mine and walk backwards down the jetway, guiding her and alerting her to inclines and speed bumps. Though I know she’s anxious for us to get off the jetway so they can have an on-time departure, the gate attendant never says so, slowing her pace to match ours, holding onto Nancy’s left elbow as we make our way towards the terminal. Eventually, we make it to the gate area, and voila – there’s a wheelchair waiting on us . . . in the gate area . . . at the end of a l-o-n-g jetway.

On the train, off the train and into the l-o-n-g line for the elevator that will land us at baggage claim, we find ourselves behind the woman and man who took Nancy’s wheelchair. The man (her pusher) makes his way to the front of the line and informs people that his ride is waiting on them upstairs, and when nobody will let him break to the front of the line, a miracle occurs: the woman stands, hoists her bag, and the two of them walk back to take the escalator to baggage claim, leaving the vacated wheelchair sitting empty in line.

5:30 p.m.
We pick up our daughter, get a quick bite to eat, then drop Andy and Nancy back at the house to enjoy (I use the term lightly, as it turns out) the second half of the Georgia Tech game while we run an errand. Once back, I sit and try to write this post, but my brain is screaming for sleep, threatening to post unintelligible nonsense, so I prepare the photos then sit and stare at the screen until 9 p.m. when we can give Nancy her bedtime meds and call it a day.

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Time for Nancy to Blow Out the Candles Again!

It’s that time of year again – the day for Nancy to blow out the candles on her cake! If you’ve poked around this blog, you know who Nancy is, and if you’re at all familiar with The 70273 Project, you know that I was stitching Nancy’s drawings when The Idea came and whispered to the ears of my heart. Since Nancy is a woman of few words, I think we’ll celebrate today in photos.  Click on the photos and get to know Nancy, if you’re a mind to. I’ll be surprised if you don’t leave this post smiling and feeling a little lighter. Nancy does that for folks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy birthday, Nancy. May you have many, many, many more.

~~~

P.S. I want y’all to know that when I called to order flowers for our Nancy, the owner of the shop told me about her brother who is 1 year older than Nancy, disabled, and lives right down the street from her. Can we say “small world” one more time?!

Living Gratitude

To all who brighten days with laughter, kindness, and thoughtfulness,

To all who spill goodness into the world at every turn and opportunity,

To all who keep a respectful, open heart to those with differences large and small,

To all who shine light into the darkness,

To all who dare to think for yourselves and allow others to do the same,

To all who help commemorate the 70273 precious souls,

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from The Engineer, Nancy, and me.

Our Little Houdini

Nancy24Marh16c

Hospital Room 534
Orange City, FL
Wednesday
3/23/2016

Nancy is not as alert today as she was yesterday, though I think her tongue is receding in size. Tired of the catheter, she simply wiggles her way out of it, leaving it on the side of the bed. They decide to leave it out, and I am not sorry about that decision.

I  kick some serious ass today, and I feel really, really good about it. Boot one doctor, despite being told by many that it couldn’t be done. Put others on notice. Have an eyeball to eyeball with one particular nurse, and it goes so well that within 5 minutes of my little treatise about both of us being on Team Nancy, she was wheeling me in a reclining chair, pillow, and blanket. Without me asking.

Undoubtedly the best part (aside from booting the asshat doctor) . . .

mittens

Around 4 am I sit in my recliner, stitching. My feet are up and my chair is positioned about an arm’s length away, facing Nancy. In one sure and swift move that takes less than 90 seconds, our little Houdini wrestles her hands out of the protective mittens – without disturbing the velcro binding, mind you – and yanks that tube from her nose.

I fetch Nurse CeeCe who comes into the room and takes her position in one side of Nancy while I position myself on the other side.

“Did Jeanne do that?” CeeCe asks Nancy, giving a curt nod in my direction.

“Yes,” Nancy says, waiting a beat before busting out into a full body chortle. She laughs about once every 17 years, and let me tell you, the sound of her laugh spreads to those around her quicker than poison ivy on a hot day in a wrestling ring.

The three of us keep laughing, and every time we stop to catch our breath, I say “You pulled that tube out your own self, and you’re blaming it on me,” and the chortling starts all over again.

Three women, laughing their heads off at 4 o’clock in the morning. It is one of the sweetest moments of my life, one I will carry tucked into my heart forever. The sound of Nancy’s laughter is delightful in and of itself. And the cognitive connections she makes to enkindle that laughter – that astonishing element of surprise because sometimes I  don’t give her enough credit – well, wow.

In Our Own Language 16

IOOL16c

Usually Nancy (my disabled sister-in-law) draws,
and I stitch her drawings,

IOOL16Nancy2
but this time we laid the crayons down
and played with bits from my scrap bag.

IOOL16Nancy1
Nancy placed the bits of fabric on fusible sheets,
and I took it from there

IOOL16InCar

stitching in the car . . .

IOOL16Adonis

and under Adonis . . .

IOOL16God

and under Mr. God (dog, in reverse) . . .

IOOL16Dante

and under Dante.

It’s obviously a hit with the felines,
and Nancy seems to like it, too.

Nancy Does Her Part for The 70273 Project Blocks

Nancy does her part: makes a drawing that will become her block for The 70273 Project.
(Lighting was a little on the dark side on account of it was post-lunch nap time.)

And here Nancy and Jeanne (mostly Jeanne, actually) talk about
what it’s like to be a mother and an artist.

NancyChambers25Feb16a

NancyChambers25Feb16b

Here are Nancy’s finished drawings for her 70273 blocks.
Just wait till you see what I have planned for
my part of the collaboration.
Stay tuned.

Today we picked up the 563 (or so) drawings that will become
In Our Own Language 19.
Here are some of my favorites:

IOOL19a

IOOL19b

IOOL19c

IOOL19d

Tonight I was tickled to be invited to talk about The 70273 Project
with other writers over on Twitter
in #storydam,
a chat moderated tonight by Meredith Shadwill.

Don’t forget to help get the word out by mentioning The 70273 Project on
Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media outlet you hang out in.

and

Remember to subscribe so you stay up to date.

and

Let me know when you get your block finished
and let me know if you’re gonna’ participate in the
Make-a-Block-a-Day-in-March Event.

and, as always:

Thank you.

Turning the Tables

NancyAndAndy23Feb16

Nancy and The Engineer

Nancy Talks About her Baby Doll

When I was a teenager, too young to drive myself to the shopping mall and too old to want to be seen with my mother, I would sit on a bench in the middle of the mall and watch people. Sometimes I would pretend I was handicapped just to see how people reacted to me, then I’d switch back to me, then back to handicapped. On and on it would go, this private social inquiry, with me observing and noting the differences in people’s responses to me.

Though some were quite gentle, most pretended they didn’t see me when I donned the disabled persona.

(And yes, it’s true: I was an odd kid.)

(Some would argue that I still am.)

Some block makers have expressed reluctance to make a block fearing they will not do it right. Now I’ve known a lot of disabled people in my life (and my regular readers know how much I adore my sister-in-law, Nancy), and never – not once – have I ever heard a single one of them fret about getting something wrong. Right and wrong just doesn’t exist for them. Making isn’t about how they do it, it’s about doing it, period. The making is all that matters.

So I’m thinking that maybe, when we’re making these blocks for The 70273 Project, we could let Nancy and her friends be our teachers and just make for the sheer joy of making. And who knows? We might find it so freeing, we’ll decide to say “Good riddance” and leave judgement on the side of the road and never, ever look back.

\\\

Want to raise your hand and become part of the Make-A-Block-A-Day-In-March Tribe? Leave a comment here or send me an email or find me on Facebook and let me know ’cause I’m thinking about setting us up a Facebook page to call our own.

Want to subscribe? Click right this way.

And hey, if you’re on twitter, you’re cordially invited to join Meredith Shadwill (facebook /  twitter) and me (@whollyjeanne) in a twitter chat about The 70273 Project and writing. Look for (and use when you chime in) #storydam to join the conversation. It’s gonna’ be fun.

A(nother) Squeaky New Beginning

NancyNYD2016

Happy New Year from Jeanne and Nancy

Every New Year’s Day, my Grandmother would finish breakfast, get lunch on to cook, then take her seat in the chair underneath the telephone. She’d pull out the baby blue zippered 3-ring binder that held all sorts of important information, turn to the curled-up page where she’d written all the family phone numbers, and put her finger beside the name at the top. Carefully, making sure she got the number right, she dialed one number after another.

“Hello?” answered the receiving party.

“Hello. Is this 1-9-7-6?” Grandmother would ask, clamping her hand over her mouth so the person on the other end would take her seriously.

“No,” they’d say, thinking she was referring to a phone number, “this is 5321.”

“Oh yes, it is so 1976,” she’d say, “check the calendar,” her laughter erupting as she slammed down the phone. She’d take a few deep, satisfied breaths to collect herself before dialing the next number on the list.

New Year’s Day is the only day my grandmother ever turned prankster, and she wore that year-turned-telephone number prank slap out. Today, ignoring caller id because that’s not important to the memory, my cousin Stacy and I race to call each other on New Year’s Day, asking simply, “Is this 2-0-1-6?”, laugh, and hang up.

NYDFood

Happy New Year, y’all. I hope you’ve had your black eyed peas and turnip greens and pork cause there’s no need in tempting fate. But listen here: whatever resolutions you make, whatever resolutions you break, may 2016 hold delight around every turn. May you laugh more than you cry. And may you never question – or let anyone else question – your worthiness.

Now let’s get on out there and have ourselves a big time, why don’t we.

~~~

Doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, Nancy and I continue doing what we do . . .

Nancy draws:

IOOL4 023 copy

And I stitch:

IOOL4 23

And we watch to see where that carries us.

In Our Own Language 18

Ocean1

The ARC
last Friday . . .

Jeanne: Do you want to ride in the convertible?
Nancy: Yes.
Jeanne: Do you want to spend the night with us at the hotel?
Nancy: Yes.
Jeanne: Do you want to go shopping?
Nancy: SHOPPING!!!!!!
[I took that as a yes.]
Jeanne: Do you want to walk on the beach?
Nancy: [crickets] [Nancy does not like to walk.]
Jeanne: Do you want to look at the ocean?
Nancy: It’s green!!!

Nancy12Dec15

We went down to visit Nancy this weekend.
She didn’t know we were coming.
There were rides in the convertible

NancyInHotel

a spend-the-night in the hotel on Saturday night

NancyShops12Dec15

shopping

AndyNancyWatchWaves

and time spent looking at the ocean
the lacy, green ocean.

There was also drawing
of course.
86 drawings made at school since our visit in late October
and 46 drawings made in the hotel room.
The two batches make up
In Our Own Language 18.
132 drawings.

IOOL18Colorchoices

Note the color choices

IOOL18PositiveNegativeSpace

the use of negative space

IOOL18Borders

the border

IOOL18Movement

the movement.

IOOL18Symbol

She continues to make this shape
a vessel, I call it.
It will play a prominent role
when I begin to stitch these.

IOOL4 22

In Our Own Language 4:22

Right now,
I’m still stitching
In Our Own Language 4.
Yes, four.

~~~~~~~

Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.

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