Dear Friends, Dear Family,
If you ever find yourself in need of an acute rehab center for either yourself or a loved one, among the many points you may want to consider is whether or not the place has washing machine and dryer. While Jamie has been in acute rehab, I have been splitting my time between commuting to my job in Palo Alto and sleeping most nights at the rehab located smack in the middle of the Castro in San Francisco, while also taking some breaks in between to feed and love our cat Maggie and grab some new clothes.
I’ve found it it surprising during this health adventure that clothing has turned out to be such a big issue. Instead of wearing a hospital gown, Jamie is required to wear t shirts and sweat pants for his numerous workouts, plus a few sweaters for outdoor excursions. My needs are different; I require appropriate clothing for work and comfortable clothing while at rehab, all of which I pack into the suitcase that I gave to Jamie for his birthday last year for the many travels we have hoped to go on together.
Since the event happened, two enormous piles of clothes have been accumulating: one pile of Jamie’s dirty clothes at the rehab and one pile of mine at home. As luck would have it, earlier this week a fellow caregiver let me in on a secret: washing machines and dryers for the families of patients in the rehab!!!!!!!! Last Sunday as the Superbowl began, I joyfully geared up for a full afternoon of clothes washing, drying and folding in the rec center of our floor, accompanied by patients and their families who were all gathered around the tv watching as our 49ers played. As the game started, I threw piles and piles of dirty, sweaty, filthy clothes into the machine, finding a strange satisfaction in the sorting of greys, darks, whites, being careful about air drying sweaters, considering hand washing of my tights, whether or not to fold sweat pants… just happy that clothes were finally being washed and not washed at home.
As boxers were washed, hoodies were dried, and t shirts were folded, I stopped to savor the significance; we were all having a great time, I mean, a really great time! It is understandable that a lot of people might look upon a place like actue rehab as a terrifying place to end up; the mind easily conjures up images of misery and terror. While it is undeniable that there is a great deal of difficulty for all of us here as our loved ones have suffered strokes, severe brain injuries, and massive trauma, there is so much more going on. On a daily basis, Jamie, Rob, and I witness moments of sheer excitement, joy, happiness, and even laughter as breakthroughs happen in recovery and togetherness.
While the Super Bowl was on, a teenager who suffered a severe head trauma and subsequent brain injury was having a fantastic time with his parents, who were there by his side cheering our team, fellow stroke patients and their spouses laughed at commercials, and spinal cord injury patients were with their loved ones. We all had a happy day together watching the Super Bowl just like most families across our nation and the world. This weekend I opened up a favorite writer’s work and came upon this passage:
“I was eager ro reach the extreme verge [of Yosemite Creek] to see how it behaved in flying so far through the air; but after enjoying this view and getting safely away I have never advised any one to follow my steps. The last incline down which the stream journeys so gracefully is so steep and smooth one must slip cautiously forward on hands and feet alongside the rushing water, which so near one’s head is very exciting. But to gain a perfect view one must go yet farther, over a curving brow to a slight shelf on the extreme brink… To me it seemed nerve-trying to slip to this narrow foothold and poise on the edge of such a precipice so close to the confusing whirl of the waters… So glorious a display of pure wildness, acting at close range while cut off from all the world beside, is terribly impressive… the rainbow light forming one of the most glorious picture conceivable.” – John Muir, Yosemite
At the top of this rocky precipice together we see the most beautiful vision of love and care imaginable. It is a beauty that I had not anticipated, and one that has been imprinted on my mind forever.
Phillip Glass, from “The Hours”.
17 thoughts on “Super Bowl Laundry Sunday”
Gorgeous post, Julie! Jamie we talk about you every day and I’m glad you guys are are finding moments of pure awesomeness in amongst the ass-pains and rehab. Make sure the stinky laundry doesn’t ruin the suitcase. You’ll need it to come see us!
— Adelle Caunce, February 7, 2013
I think of you guys and say a prayer for Jamie every day, ‘Superbowl Laundry Sunday’ is one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever read.
Love to you both,
— Scott Tolmie, February 7, 2013
Lovely and inspiring entry. I’m impressed with the silver lining that you found in something as mundane as doing laundry!
— Jana Canellos, February 7, 2013
Dear James & Julia,
I totally relate to the laundry story — in our encampment here in L.A. we have a communal laundry (just one washer, one dryer) and it’s always a gamble as to when to get the clothes done. I’ve opted for 7AM on Saturdays since that seems to be when my fellow apartment dwellers are sleeping off their Friday Big Nights Out. Getting out of bed to do laundry at that hour is a MAJOR act of will — the over-stuffed basket of clothes just looks horrible in the pale dawn light. But then, when it’s all done, everything folded and clean and warm, I can almost hear angel trumpets blasting in triumph! it’s like I can knock off for the rest of the day! I love all those clean clothes! Hey, my favorite shirt! Etc! Why can’t I REMEMBER all that when I’m first getting up and wandering around muttering sullenly and thinking of excuses? From now on I’ll invoke your description of the joy inherent in the process of doing laundry, use your story as a rocket-boost, focus on the warm and clean and folded results instead of the hassle and the tedium and all those other false and lazy negatives. So… THANKS for illustrating the details of your rehab adventure, thanks for helping the rest of us to see laundry-as-metaphor for mindfully cheerfully doing what needs to be done, in all Life events, whether tiny or huge.
— George Evelyn, February 7, 2013
Jamie & Julia,
I have spent a most life affirming hour. Just finished reading all your journal entries and very single Guestbook message. I have ran the gambut of emotions of tears and laughter.
From my own small experience I know that the love and support from family and friends has the most excellent healing powers. Jamie you are enveloped in that power. I add my own love to the pool. Here is another little film for you…. You need an harmonica!
You both have my respect & Love
— Kim Craste, February 7, 2013
Hey Jamie and Julia,
It is lovely to read your posts. We think of you both and are so glad to hear, Jamie, that you have things like “outdoor excursions” in your days! That does indeed sound like good progress. Maybe if you are lucky you will see the naked guys in the neighborhood and can weigh in on the laws around public nudity, cuz it is never the ones you might want to see that flaunt all their god-given charms, or “bits” as Phil might say…
Julia, I quite enjoyed the music you posted and wondered if you ever listened to Thomas Newman, perhaps a little more sparse and pensive. his music has been very soothing to me in harder moments.
Oh yeah, Ed sends the usual bad humor:
1st Eskimo: Where did your mother come from?
2nd Eskimo: Alaska
1st Eskimo: Don’t bother, I’ll ask her myself!
ba dum bum, tshhhh
Keep up the good spirits and good work!
— Allison Brown, February 7, 2013
Look what i just ordered:
Bruce Lee Disco Outfit
Bruce Lee Businessman
After I get these, I will then have:
Bruce Lee Enter the Dragon Bruce Lee Way of the Dragon Bruce Lee Kato
Bruce Lee Disco Outfit
Bruce Lee Businessman
Wow, I’ll be Bruce Lee RICH!!!
I hope you are feeling stronger each day, my Dragon friend! I look forward to the day you and Julia will join us for dinner again!
Your pal, Stew
— Steward Lee, February 7, 2013
Hi James, Julia and Rob! Work got the better of me for a little while but have wrestled free to send positive vibes your way. Full of admiration for your rehab efforts Jim and of course for Julia and Rob’s support and the team at rehab. Very hot here in the Blue Mountains. Matt is with me as we tackle Stage 2(b) of the landscape works. Came across two snakes today: a tiger and a copper head. They seem to be attracted to the frogs in the ponds – which act like fast food outlets! Keep focussed Jim….you are in our thoughts, Cath and John.
— John Dillon, February 7, 2013
I’m glad you found the laundry, Julia. Clean clothes certainly make one feel much better, straight away, and the warmth and laundry smells are therapeutic. I wish I were a bit closer, so that I could help you with the washing.
— Family Baker, February 7, 2013
Hey Jamie and Julie. I am always thinking about you and hope you are moving forward in your rehab. Everything on this site is amazing- from your posts to your friends’ posts. I am humbled to be in your circle ;). Jamie, you drew some pictures for Chris that we have hanging above his bed. We look at them every night and send our happy thoughts your way.
Thank God you haven’t spent the last month in a hospital gown…
— Jenny Fleming, February 7, 2013
the updates. Jamie, it’s great to hear you are trying to draw with your left hand. I happen to be a lefty myself and I have to say it’s great.
My older sister Cynthia is a lefty and she taught me how to write with my left hand at an early age. My older brothers claim I was originally a righty and that by switching sides it made me silly in the head. Of course, nothing like that happened. I am completely 100% normal. :)
Sure, I like to occasionally curl up in the fetal position in the Stownstown Trader Joes and howl like a stray cat, but everyone does that right? Yep. Totally normal. @_@
On a more sincere note, hearing you fight through these difficult times and still have brightness in your heart just makes you an even bigger BADASS Hero in my book.
Stay strong! Alan
— Alan Lau, February 7, 2013
Julia and Jamie, Secret washers and driers! Maybe they have secret luxury massage parlors and cocktail bars they haven’t been telling you about…
We miss you guys. Not a day goes by that we don’t talk and wonder when Jamie will be back here to show us how it’s done. Glad you have clean clothes, and please continue making great strides towards recovery.
— Pete Docter, February 8, 2013
Jimmy I was strolling around the back lanes in camperdown today and noticed more than one single fronted cottage with a frangepanie tree in the front yard… I never
could spell frangepanie. I remember you saying it was a council requirement in crows
nest when you would come over and leach Sunday roasts off Joy and I. I look forward to having you leach some more Sunday roasts off us. I also hope that Julia hasn’t shrink wrapped any of Maggie’s turtleneck sweaters while watching the game.
— Deane Taylor, February 8, 2013
Julia you have the most incredible way of describing things, I felt as though I was right there beside you all cheering. Just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you all. X Joy
— Joy Taylor, February 8, 2013
I love reading your journal posts Julia and Jamie. Certainly bringing back memories of Ashley’s months in acute rehab. They are great places of refuge and healing and it sounds like Jamie is making good steady progress, but I’m sure you’re getting sick of it all. My shining moment was when I basically told the entire rehab team to go to hell. It can make you a little crazy. The Occupational Therapist wrote on Ashley’s discharge papers, “mother unsafe to do transfers,” in other words, “mother a psych case.” It’s not easy getting through a life changing catastrophic episode like this. You guys are doing great!
Remember, as Julia’s grandmother use to say, this too shall pass. Love you guys!
— Deborah Schutz, February 8, 2013
I’ve been off galavanting around America again but I’m back here on your bulging ‘guestbook’. You may feel at the mercy of medical science right now but long before this, unbeknownst to you, you were part of an experiment. During all of those hours at work and riding BART together I was observing you, noting your every facial tic and gormless, erm- thoughtful- expression. It was all to inform my work on improving FACEBOOK’s Emoticons! Yes, YOUR face will form a new universal symbolic language that everyone fingering their mobile devices worldwide will use to insult, flirt and wink at each other! Read all about here:
— Matt Jones, February 8, 2013
jamie, i am glad to hear you’re improving, i hope to see you soon so we can totally geek out on stuff, keep on truckin’! your earth 2 buddy,
Jamie! How’s it hangin’ bro. just checkin’ in to say hi and we’re thinking of you bud. it’s officially the year of the Snake today and i kicked it off by buying the artist edition of Rocketeer!! Some classic Dave Stevens artwork. His draftsmanship is even more amazing at full size, blue pencil and all. Maybe if i stare at it long enough some of it will rub off.
thanks so much for the updates Julia. i eagerly anticipate each one.
— steve mock & bosco ng, February 10, 2013