I took my mother to see her sister in Florida. My uncle was flying in for a reunion of the siblings. Mom has mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. It was a driving trip and hard for us both. She was a trooper but confused, overwhelmed by choices and new places and the familiar being always unfamiliar. She had very much wanted to go to Florida, but by the time I dropped her off she was fretful, quietly upset, and ready to go home. Within a day, she was soothed, but all of us realized that her days of traveling zestfully to other places were over.
She and her sister are close. Theirs has been a vibrant, loving relationship. They were black belt shoppers and mothers of large families. They exchanged clothes and wore the same hair-dos. The day before I brought her back, I was so aware that my mom will never go to her sister’s home again, sit in those comfortable rooms with all the photos of family, sit on the porch, drink coffee, talk about children or weather or husbands or the weight they’ve gained or lost. It’s another ending for Mom. She doesn’t know it; that’s the kindness, I guess. But I felt it, felt sadness and loss and life’s moving on, its steel-edged inevitability.
I felt the same during my sister’s last weeks. I walked the yard, daffodils ready to bloom everywhere, with my college-age daughter and thought, my sister will never do this, this very simple, we take it so for granted thing, with her grown daughter. It hurt in the most exquisite way––life’s hardness and our fragility, death and rebirth, luck and that which will be.