Tag Archives: mothers and daughters

i keep saying good-bye

IMG_0277_2I’m straightening Mom’s room at the place which cares for her. She’s in year 10 of Alzheimer’s, healthy but unable to do a single thing for herself or communicate clearly. I’ve made her room pretty, but more and more I take things away and store them: the costume jewelry someone gave her to play with, the received cards she so loved to tear to pieces and then rearrange, clothes which are too difficult to put on her. If I bring a plant, she doesn’t notice it. I gaze at the things I’ve selected to comfort and define her. Without her zest and vitality, their definition is less and less clear. cameilla

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frame

I just talked to my mother, she says in her soft voice. I’m at a spiritual retreat in New Mexico, and its leader is speaking. She has dementia, she continues, and she talks about our mothers being our first witnesses…..for we are working on developing a witness self within, and I start crying. My mother has Alzheimer’s. Before it began, she was beautiful, engaging, friendly, smart. She is still beautiful, still friendly. But over the last five years, I have watched too much of her depart: the woman who loved to shop; the woman who could take apart a car motor; the woman who could kill a snake; the woman who loved chocolate; the woman who was vain; the woman who was always generous with money—the first woman I knew. My Mama. She was a reflection of me. She was my earliest frame of self, and now I watch that frame splinter into fragments very slowly.

When I am through weeping at what is, I think about the idea of being a witness in someone’s life, reflecting back. What do I reflect back to those in my life? I wonder.

What do you?

shepherd

They tell me she’s using the pillow that hung from a cord on her doorknob as a purse these days. That, and the zipper case that holds her Bible. Since the pillow has a Bible verse on it, the news comforts me a little….I like to take it as a sign that the Lord, whom she always believed in, is looking after her. She likes to have both of them with her. They have a wheelchair for her on excursions. It tires her so much to walk very far now. Otherwise, they tell me, she’s healthy. I’m on a kind of sabbatical, so I won’t see her until August, when I return to Houston. I left her easily, the on-going changes in her having made me tired and impatient. The Lord is my shepherd, says the pillow. I hope so. And I need some shepherding, too….

Do you have a family story, maybe lovely, maybe not? What an interesting and often exacting conundrum life is….