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.