Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Flickering Light

For those who have followed the journey, you know that the trajectory of my mom's condition, both physical and mental, has known only one direction over the past half dozen years. Expectations have been lowered to the point of extinction and an uncompromising reality has descended.

I enter my mom's apartment with my son, anticipating a repeat of the scene that has already played out in my head. My mom will be in her wheelchair, either in the kitchen or near the window in the dining room. I will make conversation, but that is really the wrong term, for there will be little or no discourse, just my monologue. 

My recent phone calls to my mom  have taken on a different quality. Some dormant spark has been ignited and she is almost chatty. What she has to say has made little sense, but just to hear her voice, to sense its intonations, and to be the recipient of words rather than the giver, is in itself a gift.

I begin chatting with my mom, stroking her head and her arms as I speak, telling her of the recent details of my life. Then, suddenly, she takes over. During the next 5 minutes or so, she weaves an intricate tale involving a plateful of interesting characters.To the best of my understanding, the primary focus is on a baby carriage, possibly a tiny child in a classroom and the lineage of this little person  (my mom is told that she is something like the cousin of an uncle of what appears to be a student). My son and I are almost giddy with delight as we try to piece together this story in our heads.

At one point, my mom gives an almost Seinfeldian "ya da, ya da, ya da", and my laughter is audible even to her ears that seem to take in almost nothing. "What is so funny?" she asks, and I am startled that she has connected my sounds to her proclamations. "Nothing, mom, you are just so cute."

She jumps back in to her storytelling, people wandering in and out on a moment's notice. Finally, she comes to a conclusion. She now seems to be in front of a large group, thanking everyone for having come to listen, and inviting every one back in the future for the next chapter in this saga. I applaud as the last phrases come tumbling out.

There is an unadulterated joy in knowing that, at least for a brief moment, my mom's downward spiral has been stopped. The vibrancy and vitality in her presentation show life where I had long ago given up reasonable hope of ever finding anything but ashes. To see the light flicker on, to hear even faint sounds of my mother coming forth, seems almost a miracle.


Dennis said...

You deserved that moment. You have been a good son. Cherish it and remember it always.

Alex said...

You have a gift for capturing moments with your words. Wish that I could have been there.