To Remember for All of my Days–

Momma Oval2

Please press the audio button for “Time to Say Goodbye”,

Sarah Brightman and Angelo Bocelli

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Within a few short days, the fifteenth of November will arrive, the day that Momma left.  I miss her  today even more than a year ago.  The days since she left have never been the same because there is always an emptiness in me, something that was never felt before.  Momma was my anchor, a guide that stabilized me since I was born.  Now,  I flounder occasionally  and when I do I look up to the place way above, to “Al di La”, where Momma looks down.  It is a place way up over the clouds, where Momma  goes to when she knows her spirit needs to tend my life.  Soon I feel her little hand touching my shoulder and it brings me the comfort she alone can bring.

Her favorite songs are still able to evoke raw grief, sweet memories and heartfelt love for her.  Tears will brim in my eyes and trickle down my cheeks whenever I play “You are my Sunshine” and  when Sarah Brightman sings, “It is time to Say Good-Bye”.  I know everyone wants me to say “good bye” but I never will.

Momma will always live  poignantly alive in my heart.  To think that a soothing balm may help me is ridiculous in reality.  Momma is as special to me as she was during each day I shared with her in my life.   She guided, loved without question and was always there.  On particular times I know she still is there and that nothing has changed.  When I drive, Momma is there in the front seat as always and I hold her little hand.  Recently, on the drive to Florida, there were two times that if she hadn’t been there I would have fallen asleep, yet her spirit was so strong it guided me through that desperate period.  And at night, when sleep doesn’t come, or being upset  becomes overwhelming,  I realize a warm and gentle calmness begins to surround me and I fall a sleep.

My little one remains with me regardless of what skeptics may say.  Grief doesn’t stop, not when the love during a life was so strong, regardless of what the relationship is.  Grief comes and goes at its will and one never knows when something will trigger it to return stronger than ever.  In grief, can come the most wonderful moments in your life.  Momma continues to fulfill my request to her that she always remain “My Sunshine, for all of my days!”


What can the ‘morrow bring?

A couple of days ago I wrote this poem. It came to me quite suddenly and without difficulty at all. When I read it I know that my heart hasn’t mended as much as it should. I worry that if I don’t settle my feelings now, that later they may cause me problems. I thought I felt a little better the last few day, but still my emotions uncontrollably break out at any time. I have decided that I cannot curtail the grief that I feel. It is inevitable and it will last as long as necessary. I believe I will reach a point where all emotions will coalesce and quiet and become little tags of remembrances on particular days.

I never realized death can cause as much anguish as I have felt and as I continue to feel. It is elusive and enveloping at the same time. It is debilating and foreign. It is something that should have been kept from the living equation. I can’t imagine if I were an animal and I needed to deal with the feeling that is inside. We once had two wonderful dogs. Max the beautiful white German Shephard left first. Moishe, the smaller English Springer Spaniel, although quite sick himself, showed such phyical signs of loneliness that we feared he would get even sicker. His look remained with him until it was his day. I think that was a happy day for him.

And now, with my thoughts playing their will on me, I think I shall continue at another time.


What can the ‘morrow bring?

If I let go of all the things I know,
if I toss from my heart what tugs at its’ walls,
if I take the chance to step on to the edge of my soul,
then will I be better or worse than I am.

Will the sun shine again as bright as before,
will I never again feel the anxiety within my mind or,
can I take a hold of all the scarred, ragged edges
and bring them back and sew them together again?

If I bend and pick up the pieces of me
If I reach and hold onto the sweetest of the memories,
If I sit and stare at the nothing I see in the vision of my soul,
then will color be able to return to the space I see with my eyes.

Will sorrow that pierces and gouges the heart,
be changed so that the spring returns to the soul
or will tomorrow only bring another spear
laced with grief that only I can feel its’ sting?

 

Thoughts That Lead to Thoughts, That Lead to My Twilight

When I was in undergraduate school, I became very interested in Anthropology/Archaeology. That led me to take enough courses to get a BS degree in it without taking many more courses. Before I officially turned in a portfolio for grad school, I toyed with the idea of getting the Bachelor of Science in Archaeology first and then go to grad school! If I had, I am sure that I could have arranged to enter grad school the following year. My concerns in art and the complexities within the studies of Anthropology and Archaeology are interwoven in my mind and because of their simularities many issues in Anthropology helped define my art.

I have always envisioned being a part of a team of Archaeologist excavating a mountain’s surface and exposing layer on layer of rock, sediment, debris and different forms of life that create the intervals of growth and help to supply material to determine the age of the fossils sandwiched between the stratum. As archaeologists uncover the remains of an ancient people’s midden their story unfolds as the site is uncovered tier by dusty tier. Each layer of excavated soil is carefully sifted to find artifacts that will tell a story and give a time line for the living that inhabited that particular spot. In comparison, our thoughts, memories and emotions become multiple tiers in our mind that lead us to self-understanding and expression. Regardless of which idea they both demonstrate a passage of time structured by a complex cycle of growth, life and decay.

Many spiritual dogmas, in the past and in our present day, enlighten the cycle by believing in an afterlife. When I think about the artistic possibilities of life being spiritually continued I imagine a line of hollow, fragile forms. Each represents an empty homogenous soul that waits patiently for a heavenly tomorrow. In reality, I imagine souls serenely floating in azure blue skies accented with billowy, white clouds as they pass through the immense golden gates of heaven. On the other hand, the souls may become a part of an interminable final que and as the line of fragile forms sway, one by one the souls fall and become anonymous hollow pods that are brittle, frail and worn from the passage of time. The fettered, empty shells give little information of who or what they were. Yet they are the remains of countless people who have lived throughout history.

Death Scene         Gothic Illustration          Girl Reading Book

Cave  at Lascaux        Simone Martini         18th Century

At times, it is those people, probably us in another five hundred years, that makes me stop and try to remember them for a moment. Can you possibly guess just how many people have preceded you in death. Can you look at the three images and feel that their lives were equal to our current existence? In the majority of paintings or illustrations held in Museums there is never information about the people that are in the painting, unless they are infamous.  Nonetheless, they need to be acknowledged. Imagine that the death scene, from the Lascaux caves, probably was drawn by someone with blood and urine.  The death scene had to have been important to the artist to have recorded it and is as important as one that is recorded today.

Nevertheless, the relationship between man and time continues within other relationships. In our youth and early mature years our backs are metaphorically, straight and strong, while we collect stacks of memories and information. Rarely, while we are younger, do we consider our ending chapter, although our subconscious tries to signal that we are changing. Where once our memories were occupied with dense information, later in life as we grow older, we find that they may thin and fray at the edge. Where once the back never tired it now asks for a moment of rest and we begin to understand and accept that there may be passages in life that leaves us perilously fragile and degenerately transformed.

I am sure one day, I will pass through an ominous threshold and I may find I cannot live independently because I am not able to control the escalating fragility of my mind and body. If this happens I will begin a transition towards total dependence for life care. This major, unidirectional modification in life care prompts feelings of vulnerability to the world and apprehensive of tomorrow. It is evident how important it is for me to find that certain, younger person that will understand and follow my directives for my life care. The directives have already been listed in my living will and so my only worry is appointing an executor for the more distant future should I be alone to die.

Death, the end to all this thought, comes when it wishes. There is no preset date or hour, nor is there a preset script. You may think death will come and sweep you away at that unknown moment, that it will whisk your spirit instantly up to the heavens, yet sometimes for some people death lounges at the door letting the person’s degeneration become unbearable for the family and their associates. Death, that final hour, will tick in the background of my twilight…………..

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Thinking Around Crepusculum

For the past few weeks, especially since I initiated this blog, I question what will cause me to begin the twilight years of my life and if certain things happen, how I will react and what will I do.

Since I am now sixty I may be at the beginning of dusk for my day. If I am the sun in my day then it is possible I have not as much energy as before. If I am the I grass or the flowers under the sun then definitely I need a little more care to make me look even half as good as I used to and especially if I am the soil that takes time to rejuvenate its richness, then I am more patient in caring about my fellow man, listen more carefully than I ever have, intuitively see beyond now and welcome the wisdom I have been able to be given.

Even though my intuition let’s me understand hidden conditions and I acquired patience as my wisdom developed I am willing to admit my deficiencies, I have yet been able to understand human aging, its causes and more importantly how it effects us. The basis for something to age does not sit well with me. I cannot accept, nor do I understand why humans, especially, need go from stellar existence to something so unacceptable when there is continual suffering or a change that makes mobility impossible. Yes, there are those who are able to live until they are quite old without harsh physical or mental problems, but they are much fewer than the vast majority of people that inhabit the earth.

Just a few years ago, during graduate school, I addressed my concerns on aging in my final art exhibition. I need to expand what I brought to fruition in those pieces and my exploration needs to discover the current issues and facts that concern the elderly. Presently I find myself fantasizing about shadowy recesses and other impediments that are within my twilight. In order to dispel these fantasies I want to collect and share the stories of others that have preceded me into their own twilight.

Not only do I think that the twilight years have shadowy recesses that will affect me, I imagine there are cracks, fissures and sunken holes I can fall into that will take some time to get out, proving that “The Golden Years” are a misnomer. When my eyes may fail from macular degeneration, when I fall and break my hip, or find that I am in the throws of a stroke, should I then be thankful I didn’t get prostate cancer, discover a brain tumor that immobilizes me completely or at this point in life should I be thankful that my journey has led me to my darkest hour so that I shall breathe no longer?

Any or all of those conditions worry me about my later years. I wonder will I be like my parents and need care to get me through each day. If I do, and if this happens at approximately the same age as they began to have problems, then I realize I may have to face the transition from my twilight into my darkness all alone.

How shall I ever get ready to do that, or more appropriately how will I progress through the ups and downs in my twilight. Will I bump along until the ups and downs become so monumental that I will pass from twilight to darkness without an option to return? I need to find a path to follow, one with preset stops that direct me how to become prepared, or is it wrong to sojourn on this path to enrich my consciousness for a realm of greater understanding? Often I have wondered if I should let all my questions and explorations go. I think of my parents and grandparents, as well as many others, who didn’t question or plan. They lived their lives and when something catastrophic happened they knew someone in their family would assume a managerial position for them. Is it because the world has changed so much that I need to be ready to plan out my stages in aging during my twilight and if they include degenerative processes is it really necessary for me to plan for them? Is it because we have blogs and other types of discussion groups at moment’s hand to write or discuss our worries or is simplicity of view the avenue of best choice?

I don’t know for sure, but even though I ignore much of what goes on around me (which is by deliberate choice) I still prefer knowing everything that I am ignoring. Yes, I must continue to question, seek answers and think around a place I call Crepusculum.

I Shall Never Say Good Bye

Presently, the night isn’t far from tomorrow. I can’t sleep and so I pace back and forth in the darkened room where my Mother sleeps. The only thing you hear, in the quiet of the house, is the swooshing sound of the oxygen concentrator and the cycle of pressured air headed toward the ventilator. In between those sounds, is the poof of blocked expiratory air by a peep valve that helps my Mother’s lungs remain open after she exhales.

The sounds of the machines, the glow of the numbers on the oximeter and the sight of her rising and falling chest calm me as I run from the reality of her death. I can’t imagine not being able to speak to her, be with her, listen to her voice and learn from what she says. So often she worries that no one who is around her will talk to her. She sits waiting or trying to talk to anyone, to whoever is here and then feels they never hear her. Oh yes, anyone can hear her, but I don’t think they realize she has something to say. It is difficult for them to grasp that Momma lives in two worlds. There is the one that is here in my home, the one within the terms of our reality, as we understand it. The second world is from her addled memories that concoct a world filled with her childhood family, still run by her mother, even though my mother is now eighty-six. Everyone tells me it does no good to explain to her that all this has happened because of her big stroke three years ago. Its not her fault at all and now after a month of explaining this to her I see a beginning to remember that it is important to trust me when I help her through these frightening times when there isn’t a way for her to recognize the right world.

Currently, not only is Momma frightened of her tomorrows but, I feel the same. I have been her son for sixty years and I feel I have just begun to find out all she knows, or especially all that is troubling her. We often laugh that we don’t have a problem communicating. I talk for hours and she tells me what is on her mind. No one understands just how much she thinks. I told her yesterday, that I believe they have no idea how alive with thought she is, even though it is inevitable that she slips farther and farther toward her darkest hour.

Occasionally she looks at me with a woeful face. I see her right hand frantically moving her warmer and I ask why is there such sadness and her response is: “I’m going to die.” Regardless of how many times she says this, even though usually it is used as an opener to share a thought, my immediate reaction is for my stomach to flip. I answer her by telling her I don’t have time for death at that particular moment. I ask if she can wait until I no longer am busy! However, she and I know what has just happened. Momma warns me, I hear her statement and I instantly ignore it.

Presently, Momma doesn’t even understand how I feel. Now every word, every utterance, every movement must be recorded in my memory. Often I look at her with eyes that truly are a camera because I need to memorize her face as she is now. I have her faces and voice recorded from the past, although there are times when my eyes are closed that I think my image lens must be broken because I can’t see or hear her. I panic because I need those thoughts and images to be available when I call for them in the future.

Possibly, it isn’t good that she and I are close. Momma was always there as I grew up during my first seventeenn years. She wiped up my childhood spills, encouraged my adolescent dreams and applauded my teen successes. When I moved from home to further my education she beamed with pride, yet during the first months following my draft she successfully hid her fears, only to have them reappear even more poignantly when I left for Vietnam. Each day held her in a paralyzing, embrace; an unrecognized panic by the people closest to her. When I returned I looked into her eyes and knew that she had suffered even more than I had.

Our inescapable bond continued during the intervening years before my father’s death, strengthened while we lived in Arizona and continued into our move to Illinois. Beginning before our last move, I became her consul, then Power of Attorney and now caretaker, confidante and companion. Inevitably, our bond continues and is maintained and allowed to grow.

Now, it is nearly impossible for her to travel beyond her doctor’s office. Some days to move from the bed to the sofa is too strenuous, while on other days her breathing can be sustained easily with the oxygen.

Tonight, the tenebrous room intensifies my mother’s own darkness. Standing by her I yearn for her twilight to return. I know that isn’t possible and I have promised to accompany her along her path of darkness; but continually I ask myself how I will ever face that ineluctable moment when I see two golden wings guiding her spirit to eternity. I know at that moment I shall bid her my heart filled with love, but I shall never say good Bye.