Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Calm from the Storm

My sister is on vacation this week. In her absence, others in our clan scramble to fill the temporary void in 'coverage' for my Mom. Last night, my nephew, his wife, my niece, Jo and I all joined my mom for dinner at her favorite restaurant.

Towards the end of the meal, I mentioned that one of our cousins would be taking my mom out to lunch the next day. In these difficult times, when even a meal with my mom can be trying, I am thankful for those willing and able to continue to make the effort.

Not too many years ago, I attended the funeral of a friend of the family. I contemplated what I would say if one day called upon to eulogize my mom. I remember thinking that I would gaze out on a room overflowing with people, all with good reason to consider themselves her best friend.

Time has robbed her of many things. Chief among these is the constant flow of people in and out of her life. Her days were once filled with chatter and activity. From the moment she awoke, there was always something going on. The phone calls with all her sisters, and a myriad of others, was a given. Something was always happening or about to happen. Loneliness and isolation were words that belonged in someone else's world.

Now, she looks out at a universe filled only with space. With her memory having almost completely betrayed her, she is unable to visualize what lays ahead. Plans are never initiated by her, and often don't exist. Many days, she finds herself in the passenger seat of a car, being driven for hours to no place in particular by one of the women who are entrusted with her care. She has to keep moving to try to stay one step ahead of the emptiness.

It is a painful dance to watch. My sister and I are filled with guilt if neither of us is able to be in her company. We call my mom religiously, many times a day, so that there is something, anything to fill this moment, if not the next. We try to stagger our time with her, and alternate vacations. Each 24 hour period is now an exhausting lifetime for my mom. All we can try to do is make it a little less cruel.

I know that this story is repeated, with minor variations, in many households every day. For those fighting to maintain their dignity, and the many who love them and watch in desperation, it is not easy, never easy.

If I could have one wish for my mom it would be that each day not be the enemy. Let her just be able to sit in a chair, pick up the newspaper and read it peacefully. If I could have one wish it would be for calm from the storm.


Anonymous said...

You always make me cry. Your are clearly a wonderful son. Ted

Robert said...

Thank you for the compliment. I well remember your struggles with an aging parent and what a devoted son you were.

Anonymous said...

Great article on the merry- go- round of time. You are a wonderful Son surounded by a wonderful family. Your Mom may not remember much of the past but what she does remember are thoughts of happiness, kindness, compassion and the warmth of a loving family.

Jeff C.

Robert said...

thanks to you, and to those who have sent me private comments on this blog post.

Almost all of those in our generation have faced tough moments with one or both of our parents. Never easy for any of us to watch those you love in anything but their prime. So sad.

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