This is a day to pay tribute to people past and present. In a way, it is both where my beautiful mother is concerned. Up until recently, she was living by herself, with a little help (she turned 96 last November). Sure, her memory was fuzzy, but it was always energizing to be around her. Her life was sparked by her love of music, and in this picture I took in January of this year, she is discussing music with my son, Ron Simpson, who (among other things) is a gifted musician. Not long ago, she was quite ill with the flu, and fell during the night. This was a catalyst for her, life is forever different. This beautiful, talented, feisty, spunky woman became shrouded in the horrible fog of dementia, and it appears family and friends have lost that part of her that made communication with her so vibrant... One wonders if this type of a situation is more painful for the patient or for family and friends. It is different for each of us as we see her changing dramatically before our eyes. By the way, here's a picture of her and her dog, Toby, in November, 2006. I wrote something to my siblings when we realized how final this change was, and I’ll share it with you, because surely it has to reflect the hearts of so many people dealing with such illnesses:
I can't help but feel that if she were in a rational state of mind, she's tell us that no matter how much we feel pain, we must make the best of things, and move on in the sense that we are all surrounded by so many loved ones, family and friends. We don't want to lose those relationships. We are seeing a kind of illness that is so very cruel. For everyone concerned. And we must each face the gut-wrenching pain that grips us as we see Mom losing her sense of self. While it is terrible, we have the comfort of knowing that these days the right meds can make a great deal of difference for people with issues like Mom's. At another level, I don't know about you, but I think of my own mortality. I pray, "God, please, let me die in my sleep. I don't want to be a burden to my loved ones. And please let it be when I choose, okay? Perhaps during a nap would work. I need to have all the laundry and dishes done, the cats fed, and all my work caught up, and I want to write to all my friends and family and tell them how much they mean to me. And I prefer to be wearing some make-up. You know how awful I look without a touch of foundation and blush.” This truly a time when there is a tapestry of tears being created for our dear mother. Sometimes with just a few tears. Sometimes with many. But we're losing her. It's tangible now, and it isn't a good feeling. Knowing something isn't the same as experiencing something.This morning, I picked up a book I’m almost ready to review, Not Bartlett’s, and read the following, which is so appropriate to certain life situations:
We cannot help the birds of sadness flying over our heads, but we need not let them build nests in our hair.