Monday, March 28, 2016

The Balloon Volleyball Champ-E-Yun

Balloon volleyball is hands down the Meems' favorite pastime.  She became an aficionado back in the late 90's during the weeks on end she spent in the Baylor Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant unit with my sister, Kathy.  Once a week, the activities specialist would arrange the patients (most in wheelchairs) in a circle and instruct them to keep the balloon in the air as long as they could.  They would count it out...one!...two!...three!...  "Let's try to beat our record of 30!  Can you guys hit it 35 times without letting it drop to the ground?!"  

My sister was too weak to scratch her nose much less put some muscle behind whacking a balloon.  Mom, on the other hand, played vigorously by Kathy's side.  I attributed Mom's enthusiasm for the "sport" to the sheer boredom she experienced day in day out rarely seeing the light of day as she sat by Kathy's side.  Seriously, balloon volleyball and the Thursday ice cream sundae party were the highlights of her weekly existence.  

This afternoon, I challenged Meems to a savage game of volleyball with the balloon that the occupational therapist left in her room.  Her eyes lit up as she accepted the challenge.  We batted the Happy Birthday balloon back and forth for a bit before she held on to the balloon and slowly leaned towards me.  I slowly leaned towards her because the "lean in" is usually accompanied by some random little juicy tidbit she needs to tell me.

This is where I need you to envision sloth-like slowness.  S.    L.    O.    T.    H.    -    L.    I.    K.    E.    S.    L.    O.    W.    N.    E.    S.    S.

Tidbit 1:  "I was in pain every day while I was pregnant with you."  [sloth pause - I know that there's more coming because she's still leaning in.]  "The minute you were born, I felt better." 

Tidbit 2:   "We were camping and they shot some cannons to scare the bears."  She just left that nugget hanging there.  [I was there when it happened.  Let me just say this about that.  The park rangers should have been ashamed of themselves for not posting signs to warn innocent campers that they would be awakened in the night by what sounded like gunshots.  Ashamed, I tell you!]

In the middle of a long successions of volleys, she quietly said, "Try hitting it with just your left hand."  [sloth pause]  "I'm going to use both of mine."  She plays dirty.

Tidbit 3:  "If you see a bear, you're supposed to lie down and play dead."

Our longest volley was 57 balloon hits.  According to Meems, she and the OT had only gotten to 35 during her last therapy session.

Tidbit 4:  "Balloon volleyball is a good workout."  [sloth pause]  "You should play it every day to lose weight."  I would have to play all day every day with a Balloon Volleyball World Champ to see any such loss of weight.

Tidbit 5:  "Wanda just had one labor pain, and then Sherry was born.  And, she only had one child."  

Tidbit 6:  "There was a woman on a farm that just dropped a baby.  I'll bet that hurt."  When questioned, Meems clarified that the woman didn't drop her baby like a sack of potatoes.  She gave birth to the baby.  You know...dropped it.

We played volleyball for 20 minutes.  It was then time for her to roll to the dinner table.  I could have played for another hour just to hear her interesting random tidbits.  I take great delight in hearing the thoughts that bubble up from her dimming mind.  It's like looking into a box of faded pictures.  You can remember that there were vivid colors, sights and sounds that day.  But, memory fades.

As I was leaving, she leaned in one last time.  "You don't have to come visit me every day,"  [sloth pause]  "but, I'd be disappointed if you didn't."  

I wouldn't miss these visits for the world.  
     A.  I apparently need the exercise.  
     B.  I might miss a juicy tidbit.
     C.  I need all the reminders I can get about Bear Safety.