Monday, May 14, 2018
Before We Disappear
It is a beautiful sunny , cool and windy Monday morning. I am thrilled to be home. I just had a few busy, somewhat demanding days in a row and the gift of quiet and home shines through brightly this morning.Compared to the extended demands of my teaching years these intense bursts of activity are nothing but in the wonderful , slow and steady life I now lead they stand out. When traveling is required and putting myself out there is expected I can usually step up and pull it off. After the frenzy I always feel so happy to return home and return to the predictability and choice of my days and seasons. I texted my daughter on Saturday voicing my anxiety regarding the fact I had not made a list since Thursday morning . My list making I realize is just an attempt to stay grounded and my need to process and stay in control. I am sure a therapist could have a field day with me but I don't need to have a professional tell me why I do what I do. I do what I do because I need to. My daughter wisely replied. " Mom , sit down somewhere and make a list, go outside and look at the buds on the trees and listen to the birds". She knows me so well.She sees me and that is a gift beyond measure. Yesterday I sat and gazed at my mother. She sat as a queen on her throne dressed in her signature manner, jewelry , a scarf , her clothes somewhat layered possibly not matching but each layer fashionable. She patted her hair and smiled. Every gesture is now open to interpretation as Mom can no longer speak and her thoughts are locked inside. Was her hair touching a comment on how messy she believed it to look, how unhappy she was with the hairdresser or the color, a plea for a compliment or a way to tell me my hair needed attending to? In that brief gesture I saw all of who my mother was and still is . It feels like in so many ways she is disappearing right in front of my eyes. She is tiny and elf like, child like I suppose and fading.She no longer has a primary role in the family group.She is not cooking for us , asking questions or making comments. We talk and laugh and our exchange excludes her in many ways. We pull her in to the conversation as one would include a small child , reacting to her body language and following her if she goes outside or into another room. Dad is reluctant to discuss in front of her the challenges and frustrations he is experiencing, trying hard to maintain her dignity and the sanctity of their almost seventy year marriage.Yesterday with my brother, sister in law and my father I looked through pictures laughing and remembering and I was so sad not to be able to ask Mom for details and hear her recollections. I dig very deep to find my beloved mother in the shell of the little woman who sits before me because I know she is still in there. Her disappearance makes my current role as mother and grandmother even more poignant. I left my mother and went to my son and daughter in law's for supper. I absorbed every aspect of that get together. The house was filled with 21 members of the two families who were connected when Chapin married Brianne. Nancy sat in her place of honor as two of her children, six of her grandchildren and eight of her great grandchildren interacted around her. Burton and I reveled in our sons, their life partners and three of our grandchildren. We laughed, we ate , we hugged and told stories and made memories.We saw each other and celebrated family. As I walked home afterwards I listed my reasons to be thankful and it occurred to me that I had a big part ( as did Tricia) in steering the ship that brought us to the moments of family that was Mother's Day 2018.From the youngest to the oldest I see them all and am so privileged to be seen by them. I will fade and disappear but so much will be left behind and will continue to flourish and grow.