A Puzzlement!

It is late at night and once again, I only hear the steady, electrical hum from the motor in my mother’s oxygen concentrator, which, is followed by a clunk that signals the release of extra oxygen. Those sounds mingle with the inspiratory and expiratory breaths coming from the ventilator and the whirr from the spinning of my computer’s hard drive as a utility program runs its occasional scan. The darkness and the quietude make this eerily special, as I sit at the little desk in the corner, because the darkness wraps around me like the arms of a loved one, sealing me in security; its effect heightened by the juxtaposition of computer light and the arm of the darkness.

As I listen to the sounds, it becomes painfully apparent that she has completed her journey within her Crepusculum. Now Momma waits in her darkness until it is time for her departure. Daily, she waits anxiously, patient for M to feed her, to bathe, to do anything. I am aware how anxious she is and I believe her boredom is unyielding and unacceptable to her. Up until August, art and craft projects filled her daytime and by six p.m. I reminded her to stop so that I could get her ready for the evening and Momma would always tell me she wanted to work longer.

Now the hours and minutes tick forward for her and eventually the only thing that she does is to transfer from the bed to the sofa, or another area to the bed. As I stay by her side during the day, I chatter on to keep her less lonely and bored. I am reminded how little she smiles; where once the smile was almost continual, now I need to urge her to give me one. Even then, she feels she has nothing to smile about; instead, she only tells of tales from her confabulated memory bank and creatively fills the blank spaces extemporaneously.

When I tend to her for medical or personal concerns she often wants to be obstinate because she feels the repetitive acts of care cause her discomfort as we move her legs, arms or head. I ask her why she is so stiff, is it for protection or is it a physiological change. Rather than answer, her “no’s begin and she shakes her head representing what she doesn’t want me to do, although and more importantly the no, the little break into being obstinate, is a way for her to break from boredom.

Both she and I are not good at watching her, as she exists. We both get edgy and unfortunately, I become too impatient and forget I am able to walk across the room and reach; I can reach and since I can, I must remember that patience is paramount because I know that she will not remember what she said. Often Momma does not know me. Immediately I know her agitation and I know her reaction to me is a defense against someone she does not know, some one she knows does not love her and someone she does not trust. If I look into her eyes, I can see the fire of fear and fight glimmer in the corners. She is always ready to fight to keep her “self”, her oneness, her right to be. In her life, she has defended herself continually and learned these defenses at an early age from her own family. In contrast, I rarely have that same defense mechanism. My “fight” is only to protect my occupational position, or for someone who is close to me; but I never cross into a battled defense, as she is capable of doing and winning.

Her “fight”, the key to her survival is important, particularly when you are growing old. I know I will need to remember and learn from her. I need to sit in a Doctor’s office and be willing to tell that person what I want and what my beliefs are, rather than just going along with the program. My mother still has the punch of her old character most of the time, but there are many times that she is mentally too fragile to know it is the proper time to take care of her needs. These fluctuating times and the other changes that have happened in my mother are reminders to me that I might have as much trouble, as she has had, in my upcoming program of crepuscular life.

Looking ahead, anticipating and even planning for different problems later in my life is particularly worrisome because I believe I may be alone during my final years. Presently, I like being alone; let me spend day upon day eating, sleeping, gardening, everything being alone and I am a happy person. The solitude and quiet is incredible. I am inspired to walk, paint, make my sculptures, and do whatever I like and in so doing the time quickly passes.

Yes, the time can pass quickly and pleasurably. In my thirty-four year relationship, I have always enjoyed being alone, yet if it ceased then a cold, emptiness will step-in and the aloneness will have little purpose. Therefore, I have this quandary. Even if I am able to reorganize almost everything that can negatively affect me later in life, then how can I assuage the apprehensions I have about my final destiny if I am alone?

This is a puzzlement.

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2 comments on “A Puzzlement!

  1. Frank
    When I was at the end of my pregnancy and the doctor said that the baby would be coming any day, I wrote in my journal (I started writing those 34 years ago because I wanted my son to know that his mother had an intelligent mind at one time) and wondered when I woke up that particular day, if this was the day of birth…( I was afraid of the pain of childbirth and that was decades before epidurals) Then, don’t ask me how I made this just in logic or thought, I wondered if this anticipation was what it would be like to wait in anticipation to die….What a contrast!!!, on the eve of birth thinking about the moment of death…
    After reading your post, the memory of my journal entry came to mind and its words would seem quite insightful for a young 21 year old woman.
    You know that the ending of your mother’s days are near, but each day, I am sure the question of ” Is this the day?” comes with the dawn and end with the sunset. Your days are filled with uneasiness, it would seem…
    Your words ring true for me as well. With each new complaint, a look of pain as he holds his chest, the moan of abdominal pain, the pasty look of pallar on his skin, all causes my mind to form the question, ” Is this the moment when he starts his leaving??? It can feel so torturous.
    Frank, I blieve that God sees and loves you for the patient love and care that you are giving to your mother…
    I have begun praying for the person (most likely it won’t be my son) that is to be my caregiver. I am praying that they will love me in spite of my confusion and obstinance. I am praying for that person just like I started praying for my son’s wife when he was 8 years old.
    I can tell you that Heaven heard those prayers because most young women would have left my son after he became injured. He is not the man she married and my daughter in law has said those very words to me. Yet she stays. She is his champion in all things. She battles his resistence when he wants to “Marine UP” and not do what should be done for his long term health. She willing takes on SSA, VA Affairs and who ever makes any kind of noise that they will not give him the treatment that he needs…She fights a tireless battle and this is on top of working full time, full time student and a mother to two active and beautiful young boys……she is exactly the person that my son needs and she is what I prayed for. She is his SuperHeorine and I love her, (even when she doesn’t love me much)…I love her for not taking the easy road out…
    Frank, you and I may have a questionable twilight as to who will bring to us what we have given freely in love to those we love so desparately. I believe that your kind of love is the creative “fire in your bones” that escapes into your art. I truly believe that your twilight will be a “good one” and I will start praying for your “angel” to minister to you as you have done for your mother…You are an extraordinary man, Frank…God Bless you, M and your mother….know that you are in my thoughts and prayers….

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  2. Frank says:

    Shadowlands, eerily, our lives run on parallel paths, not only for today, but as you have noted, on into the time that we will possibly be alone When you write and tell me of your days it helps me not feel so — well, alone, in the present,and during the journey that we will eventually embark on.

    Your words gather together in a way that I know you understand each detail I speak of, rather than just telling me (as so many do) that I need to just go on and understand that it is just a part of life and to accept it.

    I don’t see how that is possible if you have “heart” because it needs to be dealt with and questions answered. The heart or our mind’s love and compassion can not be just turned on and off. I prefer having to work all this out then just saying “okay”. Anyway, you are right about how those sparks of love are digested and feed my art.

    Your daughter-in-law sounds like a perfect answer to your prayers. I think her heart is big enough to give a lot more of it out one day—Thank you for being you! Frank

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