Monday, November 17, 2014

Dreaming time


I got to Kingston last night, my mom already in bed when I came, but we sat together in her room, my brother and sister in law, my niece and nephew, and the lovely woman who is on night duty this week, and we chatted and laughed and caught up as my mother dozed in and out under her plush red blanket, and at one point she said clearly and loudly, "It is wonderful to hear all these so loved voices around me," and my 13-year-old niece said, "Wow, Grandma, we heard that!" Because my mom speaks so softly now, and sometimes you're not even sure she's saying words you would recognize if you could only hear them, but that sentence came out strong and contented.

There are new symptoms since she got chikungunya, even though she contracted a fairly light strain of it. Her left shoulder hurts all the time, and she is thinner than she was before, although I did not think that possible. At night, her arms and hands tremble until she falls into a deep sleep, which she did not do for some hours last night. Instead she talked in her almost sleep, and at first I tried to engage her, asking questions, but the caregiver, who sleeps on a futon under the window across from her bed, said kindly, "You need to just let her talk until she's done talking," and so I began to listen instead, not trying too hard to understand, picking out random sentences here and there.

At one point she called for someone in her vision to help her hold a tray: "Come and help me hold this, sweetheart, because my hands are tired. Okay, set it over there." She spoke gently, the way she did to her grandchildren when they were younger and they were helping her set up for one of her famous tea parties with the good china and silver tea service. I imagined a beautiful tray laden with the finger sandwiches of finely grated cheddar and thinly-sliced cucumber, all the crusts cut off, delicate triangles artfully arranged. It made me happier to imagine she was holding an elegant tea party in her dreams, because she was so in her element at such times.

Later, she seemed to be talking about a picture on a wall, and the need to straighten it and put the frame around it just so. And throughout, this sentence, clear and whole, "God has been so good to us. He clears the path for us always and his light shines down," said again and again, her hands rising into the air of their own accord. I just listened, grateful to be there, scared she might die as I lay beside her, and so overcome that my cheek was wet at times, and I tried to just be in the moment, come what may.

Eventually she slept. It's morning now. She has had breakfast of a cheese omelet and ginger tea. She has a little trouble swallowing sometimes. The caregiver who is on day duty this week is patient and gentle with her, such wonderful women my brother and sister in law have found to care for our mother. My mom is dozing now, HGTV's The Property Brothers a soothing backdrop of sound. I am getting ready to do actual work as I don't have the luxury of a week off, but I do have the luxury of sitting next to my mother's chair as I type this, and kissing her forehead whenever she opens her eyes.


18 comments:

  1. Sometimes listening is the hardest thing to do. I am a new reader, but I absolutely love your writing style and your perspective on life. You've been through so much in the short time I've found you blog. Thank you for sharing your world with us, your beautiful photography and amazing point of view.

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    1. hello there! I'm so glad you commented so that I could meet you and discover your wonderful blog. Thank you for this kindness.

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  2. You know, I hate to admit this, but my relationship with my mother was so fraught with complication that I never considered sitting at her bedside to be a luxury. Many years and ages more experience later, I can see why you look upon sitting with your mother to be a luxury and I wish I had more than the luxury of hindsight. I do hope you enjoy every moment you can.

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    1. e, to be honest, i think my brother, in setting up a caregiving situation for our mother that is patient and loving, has given me this luxury. i think if i was the one doing all the caregiving day in day out, i wonder if i would have the presence of mind to know what a great luxury and blessing it is. So I am deeply grateful to my brother and his wife, the women who take care of my mom, and the fact that i was laid of a year ago and so have the freedom to be here without worrying about losing my job. So many blessings. Thank you for prompting me to stop to count them. Thank you, always, for being here. xo

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  3. Quiet peace. Being present.
    Sending love.

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  4. i love reading about your mother serving tea; there's such a serenity in that image. and she is so open, so receptive to receiving blessings. such a rare and special woman. she must be so happy to have you there.

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    1. susan, she is indeed happy to have me here. i used to love watching her do her tea parties, too, especially when she pressed her (willing) grandchildren into service. She was always so bursting proud of them and they so adoring of her.

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  5. You mother looks so regal with her beautiful silver hair.

    Her caregiver sounds wise. Sometimes we just need to talk.

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    1. Bridie, she always did look regal. Even now. Thanks, friend.

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  6. A picture of repose. But maybe not so restful in reality. Sending love.

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    1. Denise, a picture of repose, more restful in appearance thanks to the angle of the photo. She was in some pain. Thanks for this, for being here.

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  7. How lucky you are to have this time. It's beautiful. I'm so happy and so sad for you.
    sending you love and hugs.

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    1. Yolie, happy and sad, both at once. yes. love to you, friend.

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  8. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this. I am not certain you realize how close your family is to those of us in this weird virtual community -- it's as if you've spun them near us and we can hear them -- hear your mother's soft voice, see her thin and beautifully clothed person, touch her soft skin. May you all continue to love one another in this extraordinary way that touches so many people.

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  9. Your exquisite family. What grace for you to be with your mother now.

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  10. She is beautiful in all ways. It seems to me that a magical thread weaves the women in your family together. In your mother, in you, in your daughter. You are all so luminous.

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  11. Wow. This is beautiful, and really conveys this special time for the both of you. Not an easy time, but special nonetheless.

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