Sunday, January 10, 2010

Morning on Fire

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
Martha Washington

This is my mother's 79th birthday. I have thought long and hard about her situation today. She is mostly deaf, severely demented, although she recognizes people and loves the clouds and the sky. She has her lucid moments when she knows her brain has failed her, and sometimes that makes her laugh, and sometimes that makes her angry.

She is my mother. She taught me to sew and to cook. She taught me to put my back into everything that needed doing. She made my first wedding dress. She treated me like a wicked stepchild for much of my young life. My mother is a mix of failure and humanity.

I try to remember that she has an infirmity, that she is not crazy. I try to honor her and treat her with the respect I would want to be treated. I'm glad I'm sober and can be present with her today. Sobriety is the finest gift I can give her.

For the most part she seems content to clip out newspaper bits and write the remains of her signature on scraps of paper, as if she knows she is fading. I find those slips of paper and they make my heart hurt.

We had ten good years together out of 55. We laughed, we talked, we worked side by side. She saved the life of my firstborn child. I have forgiven her everything except her failure to love me when I was a girl and needed the love of my mother. In time I will have mercy on that too.

She is a triumphant, angry, God-loving woman who lost her husband at the age of 53. She taught me to work hard, pay attention to the details, and to drive. She loves her sons, her sister, her long-dead parents, and the memory of the smell of rain in the desert.

I deeply love my mother, and I want her back. I don't want to shepherd her as a four-year-old child. She doesn't know I have become a poet, but she always knew I was gifted and willful.

The greatest joy I can give her are these photos of the red sky this morning. She will be in awe of them. Life is reduced to its most basic level. The heavens call her. Farewell, my dear mother. May you go homeward soon, as you pray you will. God grant you the desires of your heart, my sweet, childlike mother.


RNSANE said...

This is something I share with you. My mother, at 85, with severe macular degeneration, is still living at home alone in Georgia. She refuses to take any medication - she needs it for hypertension. She manages fairly well in the small duplex where she has lived for the past 18 years with a lady who comes in once a week to clean and buy groceries for her. Meals on wheels brings in a meal daily and she heats a t.v. dinner for her dinner and has cereal and fruit in the morning. She remembers very little, though. I was there for a whole month in the fall and it broke my heart to see her just sitting all day, not able to read anymore. She used to be an avid reader and could polish off a book in a day. Fortunately, she doesn't have many physical ailments though she is very sedentary.

Anonymous said...

Oh it is a sad thing, dementia. There are only some uncertain times remaining, and you are filling them with love and kindness for her. God bless you!


the walking man said...

find your peace with the life you have not the one you wished you had, happy Birthday to your mom.

Just Be Real said...

What a very touching post to your mother. Happy Birthday to her. I am glad you had at least those ten good years with her dear one. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am sure it is aching. Blessings.

Shadow said...

oh this must be hard... hugs!

Crafty Green Poet said...

what a moving post, I think losing someone to dementia must be one of the most difficult things. I hope your mother enjoys these photos.

Karen said...

This is a beautiful tribute to a woman who proved in too many ways to be all too human. That you pay this tribute today speaks volumes about you, Chris. You have risen above the resentments and the needs of your childhood self to become the giver. Your own recovery is probably in many ways due to this forgiveness.

Lou said...

The simplicity and wonder of the photos is exactly what your mother needs right now.

Beth said...

How heartbreaking. You are a good daughter.

We are going through something similar with my MIL - but the moments of lucidity are fewer and farther between now. I pray for her to pass peacefully.

Prayer Girl said...

This post will surely touch the hearts and understandings of many of your readers. It touched mine. I watched my mother sink into the abyss of Alzheimer's. That is a difficult thing to watch.

God took her home when she fell, broke a hip, had surgery, some rehab, (totally unaware of most of it)and died within a few months. She finally was at peace and free.

Prayers for you and your mom.

Scott said...

There's so much honesty in your words this morning... Happy Birthday Mom!

This is indeed one of the most wonderful gifts of sobriety, that we can be there for our families when they need us.

Dianne said...

Well done, daughter. You are loved.
Happy Birthday to the poet's mother today, and everyday glad YOU were born.

ps, may I have a copy of the sunrise today... too?


Madison said...

It's difficult when you have to mourn the death of a parent before their heart stops beating. Beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

I admire your grace with your mother and yourself in this difficult situation.

BlueJayEye said...

the transparency of this post is admirable, and im sure as well as the window views that inspired these thoughts

Kim A. said...

{{hugs}} Your memories are so touching to my heart and resonate my relationship as well except my mother's sobriety was a gift to me. We are on rocky ground now but I am willing so am just trusting that my HP will provide the when and where and how. Your mother's best that she could give you just sparkles in your photos. Happy Birthday, Mom.


Brian Miller said...

andin giving her the pictures, maybe you are giving back some of the color she painted into your life. know this is tough. hope you have a great birthday together. my wifes mom was...her last two was hard to see, to live..

Monkey Man said...

What great perspective and a fine tribute.

Syd said...

My mother did similar things--writing her name over and over. It seems sad that adults are reduced to being children again with aging. I am fortunate that I had my mother for 95 years in spite of depression and dementia.

Larry said...

Chris happy birthday to your Mom and peace be with you. In this day I love the sunsets you took for her and I'm sure she will to.
My heart goes out to you today remembering the last time we talked about this was not long ago. I'll pray along with you that she gets her peace soon. It's what I pray for my Mother also. I'd rather see her go than to suffer and here her say she wish she could die now. She says it because she's forgotten how to do anything or simply can't do anything anymore.


Julie said...

Chris, this is so beautiful. The pictures are beautiful, and so are your words. The quote you have included is also excellent (and goes so well with the spirit of your post). In the short time I have known you, I have noticed your cheerful spirit, even in the midst of all the tough things you must endure. That is a true testament to your beautiful personality! You are an inspiration to me and many others. I admire your strength, love and forgiveness. You are giving your mother the most wonderful gifts of all.

Woman in a Window said...

My heart aches in the beauty of it all and for the losses, too. The writing of her signature. No one could write poetry as poignant as she herself is living!
my love

Anonymous said...

"pay attention to the details."

This is a lesson taught to me by my father. It took me getting sober to finally be able to put it into action, but it is one of the more utilitarian gifts he bestowed.

Have a great week, chica.

Poetikat said...

I can relate. It's like reliving the last days with my dad all over again. He sort of knew I am a poet. I wrote a poem about St. Patrick's Day for him before it was too late and he kept that piece of paper in his top drawer, but after all, it just became a piece of paper with words by somebody.
I pray that your mother finds her release soon and finds forgiveness on the other side.

Susan said...

Powerful, touching words.
I'm watching this process as my grandmother is dying. "I want her back" too.
I'm sorry.
I hope you find serenity in this difficult situation.

Beth Niquette said...

How beautifully eloquent. What a loving heart you have. Treasure every moment. Life is just too short. ((hugs))

Steve E said...

...and pay attention to the details!

This is a beautiful tribute to your mother (and as I read it--to YOU!).

I shudder to think of what her life--and yours--would be like if you had not sobriety today. God IS all of us, especially those who have found the way!

big Jenn said...

I am rendered speechless by the tenderness of this post. much love to you. jeNN