Dementia: A Mother's Final Stages..
Mother...Born March 3rd 1933. Reached 86 years of age one month ago. Pictures of her have long since reached a point of remaining best left away from the public eye, as she is calmly and quietly facing the final stages of neurological departure. A mother now fully bed bound; a once full world now lessened to that of mere inches.
Every March 2nd I am relieved and grateful. Every March 4th I experience feelings of deep anxiety yet again for the year to come, for she is at the final indigo - tangerine rays of her transitioning twilight. I often reflect on her rounding the corner in the '80s, both hands clasped and resting on her back, with a dangling bag or two of groceries for us to enjoy a little before putting away. Or the quiet moments we would have together as she would ready herself for the day - I would watch her in the mirror and always request that she curl her bangs because it looked so pretty to me when she did. I too often reflect on our afternoons out in old downtown, dipping french fries in our milkshakes at the Woolworth cafe counter. My thoughts return to her undying protection and safety that covered me when facing adults that had little to no empathy towards me as I grew into my own as a child. I think of her work as a celebrated local pianist, performing since age 3 for churches, weddings, funerals, and the Tri-C Jazz Band of which was my first introduction in 1982 to our now world renowned Tri-C Jazz Fest. I would watch her soft inviting smile as the band director would count off and kick in the tune - 2/4, 3/3, 4/4, 6/8... In those moments my mind would set adrift in tapestries of sound and dreams to one day perform and inspire audiences myself. Her work as a journalist is never far from my center, for her style of passive voice I now see is the unequivocal structural root of my own.
Yet in all of this, what remains most vivid, is the moment I finally grew big enough and responsive enough to halt the wrist of her advancing hand meant to slap me for reasons I no longer remember. It was in the basement doorway leading into the laundry room. I will never forget her eyes in that moment for as long as I live.. They were confused, temporarily disoriented, and hurt. For me, it was a mere rapid reflex response, yet in my adulthood I often return to rather saturnine feelings of desire to have then just closed my eyes and allowed the slap to reach my face, in order that I may instead recieve her naturally sweet motherly eyes to those of loving matriarchal command in my memory, that I may no longer see them as hurt in my distant eye. I shall however never have that.
But mother, I do still have you, and thoughts of all else your tired hands have held - hands that now grasp and curl for what we no longer see, hands that rest on long departed breasts of once abundant life-giving selflessness, hands that held thousands of bus tickets over seventy years as you made your way around the city on tireless legs to take care of your family's needs, hands that always made sure our backs felt supported by their strong and warm intention.
These days you rest more than wake. Rest now, for your sacrifice has been so much and for so very long, you have long since deserved to catch up on your rest in this world. You have given it your everything. I now know the time nears, that you wash and press your pretty flower dress and stockings only a few times more, for the long walk across the luminous bridge to come...
Another Blessed Birthday To You.
Your Seventh Son
Freelance travel-writer, musician, photographer, philanthropist..