I was meditating this morning. I cried a couple of times. It was a busy meditation session. Lots happening. The happening that ended in tears was my mom. My mom. Sometimes when I look at her wrinkled, beautiful face I want to cradle her in my arms and never let her go. Life is impermanence; I know that. Every person, flower, tree, bird, ant, river, mountain…all of it, ever changing, moment to moment, day to day, year to year, century to century. I just sat there as the sadness took over. Sometimes wrapping my head and heart around her deteriorating mind, around the mother who very slowly, and irrevocably, is disappearing becomes so difficult.
Dementia. It’s just what is. I know that. At ninety-six she has lived a good life. A happy life. Mom loved life. She didn’t just live it, she engaged with it. One by one, over the last few years, I have watched all of those engagements disappear: socializing with friends, playing bridge, enjoying Scrabble, doing puzzles, going for long walks, driving her car, scooting around town on her motorcycle, cycling, camping, synchronized swimming, crafting pottery, and laundry.
Yes, even laundry. I can’t even begin to count the times that I would arrive for a cup of tea and a chat to encounter her pinning up a blouse or a pair of shorts or a bed-sheet to the clothesline. She’d be all chipper and smiling as she greeted me, clothes gently flapping around her in the breeze. She loved to breathe in that wonderful outdoors smell when she donned a just cleaned blouse, or rested her head on a freshly washed pillowslip as she drifted off to sleep at night. No more.
It breaks my heart to arrive for a visit mid afternoon to be greeted by her, still pajama clad, hair disheveled, just sitting, doing nothing, on her living room couch. No more will I sit there as she nips into her closet and pulls out clothing, piece after piece, asking me if this color blouse goes with that color pants or no, wait a minute, how about this sweater instead? Did I like the pink top or the mauve one? Did this pair of pants look better than the other pair?
I encourage her to get dressed when I visit. It’s nice to see her perk up as she comes out of her bedroom in a sweater or shirt rather than a pajama top. I guess that the clothing thing hasn’t quite gone yet.
My Mom the go-getter. No more. Ironically, her memory might be gone, but she is still cognizant of the fact that her life is empty. She often tells me that she doesn’t know what she’d do without her television. She does still like to watch documentaries on nature and anything medical. She still knows who we all are, we, her children.
She loves for me to drop by. She always has a cookie to offer me. My mom the sweetaholic. That certainly has not changed. She still can make a simple cup of tea. Just. She used to love making her regular orange pekoe tea with a bag of Earl Grey added to the pot. No more will I listen to her emphasize to me how much she loves to add that one bag to the other two. I still remember the day I asked her if she wanted me to reach up for her to snag the box of Earl Grey from a high shelf. She just stood there with this blank look on her face.
Mom and I enjoying William Wegman’s book on Weimaraner dogs.
I do what I can when I visit to brighten her day, arriving with a couple of our favourite cranberry orange scones to nibble on as we chat, a book of cute pictures of Weimaraner dogs that we ooh and ah and laugh over, a book filled with pictures of the Queen Mother through the years that we enjoy together, and an interested ear to listen to her wartime stories.
My mom. A war bride who came to Canada in 1945. Married my dad, a Canadian soldier she met during World War 2 when he was stationed in Hove where she lived. Three months. That’s all it took. They met. Three months later they married in England. She came over here towards the end of the war, to be joined soon after by my dad. 73 years ago.
Love. Love is now. Love is forever.