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?
Posted in Before Versailles, Charles II, Dark Angels, Geroge I, historical fiction, Karleen Koen, Louis XIV, Louise de la Valliere, Now Face to Face, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged mothers, mothers and daughters, my Mom's Alzheimer's, parent with Alzheimer's, watching a parent decline
We’ve come to see the movie Sex and the City. She is enjoying it. I am, too. She had a hard time, like she always does, climbing the movie theater stairs. Too dark, and she’s lost her sense of depth perception, so that every step is a slow, careful, am I falling over the edge one. Later, we’ll go eat dinner, and we won’t talk much. The light from the screen is strong enough that if I turn to my left, I can see her. I turn and think, I don’t want to lose you. Now that we’re all losing her mentally (she has mild Alzheimer’s), I am much more aware of the bigger and final loss to come. All the old hurts and grievances on my part just don’t matter anymore. I miss her vanity. She could never pass a mirror without admiring herself. I miss her dedicated shopping. She could shop in high heels, going through every store in town, until I, in flats, had to beg for mercy. I miss her lies. She would just out and out lie about the oddest things. I miss her orderliness. She could fold a circus tent into a thimble and always sniffed at my messiness. I miss her coldness. My sisters and I always swore that if we murdered our husbands, she would come over and calmly cut up the bodies and put the pieces in freezer bags and tell us to stop sniveling and get the blood cleaned up. She holds my hand now when we go out into the world. She had another side: charming, warm, fun, curious, practical, generous. But it’s her faults I miss so much.
Later, I think about the movie and its final reunion scene with the four friends and various husbands and children. There are no parents at the table. No siblings. Just these resilient four and their loves. I realize that Sex and the City always cut out the family in the telling of the tale, except for Miranda’s mother’s death and a scene or two with Steve’s mother. Oh, and Charlotte’s mother-in-law, Bunny. It’s like these four sprang forth fully formed from Zeus’s head, enscounced in New York, living the dream. Here I am in my hot humid city down south far too plump for designer clothes with my patchwork career and surrounded by family and sitting in a dark movie theater with my dotty Mom. Living my dream.
Posted in Before Versailles, character, Dark Angels, family, Houston, Karleen Koen, life, love, mothers, Now Face to Face, story and character, story and family, Through A Glass Darkly
Tagged " "Sex and the City", Alzheimer's, Karleen Koen, living with Alzheimer's, mothers, my Mom's Alzheimer's, watching those you love fade