Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can You Smell the Sound?


Oh I can smell the sound...

My mother, March 2010


When I arrived at the care home where my demented mother lives, she was beside her bed, folding and refolding her underwear. She had torn at the fragile skin of her arms with her fingernails until there were substantial wounds. This was a disturbing new behavior.

I helped her get dressed and took her for a long drive through the green hills and pastures. We had our usual Alice in Wonderlandish conversation. I pointed out a new bridge. Yes, she said, “We played there because it wasn’t being worked on that particular day.” I pointed out a horse in a pasture. “Look at that camel!” she said.

I had to stop the car at one point to make a phone call. When I was finished, she looked out the window at the tall green grass. “Oh,” she said happily, “I can smell the sound…”

It was a beautiful moment. Never mind I had to cut her fingernails because she’s forgotten how, and it grossed me out. Never mind the one-sided conversations. She could smell a sound! How wonderful! I’ve never heard of such a thing.

I was lectured yesterday by an older woman friend who went through Alzheimer’s with her mom. “This is just another part of her journey,” said my friend. “Laugh at it when you can. Go with the flow.”

Well, here is what flowed last night, a poem from my mother’s comment.

Oh I can smell the sound
a freesia makes in its sweet purity
It is the sound of all life has to offer
in one fragrant package of petals
It is the sound of roots growing
deeper, the sound of joy,
the smell of music swelling
on the breeze from the west…

25 comments:

Brian Miller said...

i love that phrase...i can smell the sound...i get it...

Secretia said...

Every waking moment is a single thing to be cherished. When it reaches that uncertain point it is shocking. we adapt to the changes in an alzheimers patient so the end of all reality for them takes us by surprise. You and your mother are in my prayers.

Secretia

the walking man said...

and in the hearing of the smelling you are becoming a bigger person Chris.

Anonymous said...

Two beautiful words...my mother. What a sad, stressful situation to find joy in. Great writing and insight, as always. (Mad :))

Collette said...

How beautiful that you take your mother's words, that sometimes make no sense, & turn them into a poem that fills your senses! (((HUGS)))

TechnoBabe said...

"the sound of roots growing deeper". I really like that. What a sturdy and strong sound. I really really like this poem. And you have your mom to thank for the inspiration.

fickleinpink said...

that made me teary eyed...

...smell the sound, so beautiful!

love your blog and so I've got an award for you! Please come and pick it up here


xoxo,
fickleinpink

Woman in a Window said...

Frig, this is beautiful. This is a beautiful, beautiful poem. I've chills, you know. And I'm so glad. What perfect advice. As you were telling the story I was thinking, Oh, please tell me you can enjoy some of it as there's such beauty here, innocent beauty in amongst the difficult.

xo
erin

chitowngreg said...

Sounds like these moments are making what could be a totally unendurable situation a little more endurable. Hang in there! You're going through something you will always remember and be grateful for!

Syd said...

I like that your mother has those happy moments--seeing the "camel" and the glory of smelling the sound. She seems to enjoy her outings. I feel so much for her and for you. These are days to remember because in their way, they too are precious.

Magpie said...

Collette said it beautifully.

What a wonderful poem you found in your heart to share the moment with your Mom.

And just between you and me - I'm glad I'm not the only one who is sometimes put off by the things we have to do to care for our mothers. It helps to hear the same from you. I always felt guilty that I wasn't "loving" enough to not be bothered by some things. Thank you for showing me it's okay to be human sometimes.

Realliveman said...

It's funny how the most creative people in the world are sometime the one's we would never in a million years suspect of being guilt of it.

And now you know where your's comes from :)

I had a grandfather with Alzheimer's. It painful to watch someone with that. I feel for you

I want you to know that what you are doing (the walks and clipping her nails and talking with her) is the greatest thing you can offer her.
You, my friend, are "smelling the colors"!

evalinn said...

Beautifully told!

Kim A. said...

What a gift in the midst of the confusion and gross-ness :-D I wonder how many of these little moments I missed before I came into Alanon. I was too busy running away, living in fear, listening to the committee in my head to hear the smells along the way. Your mom's insight is a gift to me today. Hug her for me...and you for tending to her hands..

♥namasate

e said...

That you and your mother find beauty in days like these and you share them here is wonderful. Your mother is still teaching you, isn't she?

lakeviewer said...

You are looking at her and think of how she was. She is new, and connecting in different ways. Your poem is about this, isn't it, this new connection you made, she made.

I love it!

Enchanted Oak said...

I'm thankful for your comments on this difficult situation that is teaching me acceptance. A person who wants to change doesn't just jump from here to there in a moment. It's a daily task. And you're encouraging me to keep on looking for the beautiful in my mother's journey.

Karen said...

Day by day, Chris. Beautiful poem.

Jenny said...

What an absolutely beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this.

Judy Sheldon-Walker said...

What an enchanted poem and touching story. I lost my father to Alzheimer's among other things. The small moments are treasures.

Take care & God bless.

Gabriella Moonlight said...

Oh how I get this post. My great grandmother had dementia and watching her proceed on her journey was difficult, painful, confusing and at times mind blowing. My mother had dementia from the effects of her disease also, so it was at times heartbreaking for me, but there were momemnts like you had with your mom that were absolutely heart opening and yes at times there were things I had to do for her that were a bit gross so I get that too...just know you're loved and so many of us understand this journey.

xoxoxo Gabi

Prayer Girl said...

Absolutely everything about this post is beautiful.....the smell of sound, your 55, your mom, and you.

PG

Matty said...

With such a difficult situation, hopefully you can take that woman's advice and go with the flow.

RNSANE said...

I can really relate to this, Chris. Very beautiful, yet sad.

Marla said...

I love the way you love your mother. It reminds me of loving my dad.

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