Friday, October 7, 2016

The Chair

I sit and stare at her. She has her eyes closed, as they are almost always are these days. She is fully awake but no longer has any vision, so making the effort to open her eyes must seem an unnecessary exercise. The reality is she doesn't even comprehend that she is blind.

I speak in loud voice (which, sadly, is my natural tone). I repeat my questions or my tales several times, hoping a slightly different inflection or a shuffling of words will make the synapses in her brain fire.

Sometimes I give up, spending long periods looking through my emails or just sitting in silence. I try to conjure up some new story to fill the dead air, or maybe I ask her to tell me about her favorite vacation, as if she were fully capable of responding in chapter and verse.

And if she should answer, if she should laugh, whether what I said was humorous or not, if she should say something, anything that would lead me to believe that there is still some residue, I call my sister. "You won't believe this, but Mom just......"

The chair I sit in has been glued back together by my wife. Years of heat and the rays of the afternoon sun made the chair brittle, the top third separating from the rest.  The old area rug, worn and frayed, which filled up much of this room, was removed and in its stead there is a much smaller carpet, a gift to my mom's caretaker. It does not cover nearly all of the still remaining old matting which announces its continued, if unsightly, presence.

I talk to my mom for but a few minutes, shuffling through her mail, ripping up the notices from the country club she has not been to in almost a decade, the solicitations from car companies even though she has had not driven a vehicle since 2008 and not even traveled in one since 2011.

My sister and I share this chair, alternating days when we appear so that we can fill up my mom's days each in our own way. We meet together at my mom's only in the rarest of times and only then as passing ships. But virtually every day we report to the other what has transpired from our seat in that chair.

This chair has been witness to the deterioration of my mom, and it is but mirror of her decline. It was once young and strong, surrounded by other pieces of equal beauty and vigor. But now it is aged and broken, fragile and barely held together.

I always leave this room by telling my mom that I love her, kissing her on the forehead and informing her that I will return soon, maybe tomorrow if my schedule allows. Just as my coming almost always elicits some type of response, so does my parting. On the best of days she will tell me I should return right away.

Tomorrow I will sit in that chair, repeat the same stories, rifle through the mail, stare at my phone, perform my version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day.  And hope that my mom, with all her limitations, will still enjoy my visit. Like the chair, she perseveres.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

She preserves and so do you.
So very loving and touching.