Sunday, February 03, 2019

ok so i'm still in mourning, my parents both died in january, my mom three years ago, and my dad last year. i was there at both occasions, and i felt like i was lucky that they went naturally - that their four kids are still around, and still get along, and still love them - yet of course we all have unresolved feelings about them. now it is february, and i'm still in january, and even dreamed of my mother last night.

here's the problem: my mother's mind went before her body. this was tough on everyone, especially my dad. they'd been married fifty years, then all of a sudden she didn't know who he was. he took it hard; we could tell. he couldn't be there for her death. but i made the mistake of visiting her one evening before she died. alone in hospice bed, she didn't know who she was or how she'd gotten there. right in that room, she accused me of putting her "in the worst position a woman can be in." i couldn't believe my ears. all those years, she had taken care of me. she knew exactly what i needed every morning on my way to school; she made sure i took baths and got haircuts. as a child who hated boredom and was adhd, i wasn't an easy customer, and she was always there for me, putting a new toy in front of me, loving me, making sure i had something to do. now, she wasn't really sure who i was, or why i was in her room at night. she was upset, confused, agitated.

i thought, at the time, that it would be ok. after all, sixty years of attentive mothering, followed by a few months of not having a clue who i was, i could easily forget that last part. unfortunately, i didn't easily forget that last part. it's kind of like when a friendship or romance ends on a bad note. that bad note kind of dominates the whole thing, in a way that casts a light backward and makes it seem like the whole thing was for naught, because it ended poorly. well, i wouldn't want to say that about my mother, but i will say that there was a problem there, that her not knowing who i was kind of changed things at the end there.

it's possible that i was hurt enough that i didn't really ask for guidance, or work through the steps to make myself feel like her son again, or feel better about our relationship. it's possible that i had to put it aside for a while. i know that my brothers and sister felt that same way to some degree. we know that wasn't the real her. toward the end we were all there, at her bedside, and we pointed that out to her, but it didn't mean anything to her. she just kept asking when she could leave.

so, in my dream, i walk into this restaurant, and there's a statue of my mother sitting there next to the cash register. in a kind of spooky way, it was like the colonel sanders who sat in the kfc shop as we bought fried chicken for my dad, which he really liked. but here it was, her, and she was a statue; the restaurant was using her to publicize its good food, no doubt. i immediately spoke to her, and asked her if it was alright that they had used her like this, and that she was like a statue. but, again, she had limited understanding. or, maybe it was limited movement. whether she liked it or not, she couldn't do much about it, and she couldn't really say anything either. and if i tried to pick her up and carry her out of the place, well, that might not have worked out too well, i figured.

i woke up upset and agitated, and i'm not really sure how that dream worked out. there was no representative of the restaurant in it. there were no other people. connection between my mom and me was blocked, by her physical state. she was stuck in a body, or at least, her body was still around, immobile, unresponsive, and i was still reaching out to her.

it's one of the harder things for a person to do, stick by a parent's side when the mind has gone before the body. if you think about it, it's just a matter of chance, and, if we're lucky, the body will go first. my dad was lucky, he was still there upstairs up until the very end. my sister lives in terror that her mind will go first - then what? i tell her, she'd definitely more like my dad, but that is somehow not much comfort to her.

as for me, i can only hope, and as it's been pointed out, one never knows what is in store. one should live every day as if one will never get better, and, at a certain point, one doesn't get better. i know, at the end, my parents didn't even want to do jigsaw puzzles any more. and when my dad finally, out of boredom, turned on the television, all there was was you-know-who. sometimes life is an infinite chasm, and, if we look too carefully, the sheer emptiness of it will stagger us. in my infinite quest to avoid boredom, still i get a peek at it, the ultimate boredom, every once in a while. and i don't like it. i go back to filling my life, and postponing true retirement.

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