Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the Dying Light

As we baby boomers collect our social security checks and contemplate retirement, we have become a generation of orphans. Our parents are gone, or soon will be.

My sister and I spent an excruciating decade watching our mother become ever and ever a smaller semblance of a being. Her dementia engulfed her mental and then her physical state while we were but helpless witness.

But the one most amazing benefit of this experience was the opportunity to see the relentless nature of my sister's devotion to our mom. One could only imagine that the mental fatigue, the exhaustion of the intimate examination of a life wasting away, would eventually lead to cracks and fissures. The visits would diminish. The favorite foods would be forgotten. The attention to detail would fade. The devotion would wane.

But until my mom's dying breath, that never was the case with my sister. The same sweet treats appeared even when it became virtually impossible for my mom to eat. The calls to the caretakers were as steady on the last day of their duties as the first. The  coloring of my mom's hair years after she went blind and was not even aware of who and where she was, was unquestionable.

There was an uncompromising, unbending, unyielding attachment of child to parent, and time and pain were no match for an indomitable will.

Dedicating hours upon days upon months upon years, repaying a parent's love. Contemplating nothing quite so much as never having done enough.

Our children have witnessed the worst of our generation. The idealism of the 60's turning to the excesses of Wall Street. The belief that we were going to be different, going to make a difference becoming a question of whatever happened. The promise of tomorrow becoming the often sad reality of today. But, in my sister's unwavering commitment, and even in me as I was pulled along in her wake, they have seen something far better.

If you were to ask my son or daughter, or my nephew and niece, about the best part of the children of Dorothy Nussbaum, it would not be in what we have accomplished in our work, in the toys we may have accumulated or even in the love we have shown towards them. It would be in how we have treated our mom in the dying light.


Anonymous said...

So poignant. Makes me feel good about how I took care of my father and sister who I am missing today on first day of the New Year.

Anonymous said...

what a beautiful tribute to your mom and sister. it seems to be your goal tomake me cry first thing in the morning. lois

Anonymous said...

So moving. Your words always put the important things in perspective. I live a better life because of your blog.

Anonymous said...

BRAVO! Beautiful.


Anonymous said...

Very touching


Gail said...

Rob is too modest--he was as devoted and caring a son as I was a daughter. It was 50/50 all the way....with not one disagreement. (Well, maybe the hair dying.)
Our children watched a difficult situation over many years but I feel certain that our mother, the great teacher, left one last lesson on how to treat an ailing family member.

Anonymous said...

So nice.

Anonymous said...

What beautiful words- so spot on for the beginning of a year- to remember those who are no longer with us but who we remember with great love. On some level I think your mom was smiling through the dementia, knowing how deeply her children and grandchildren adored her.