A Point in Time

I’m sitting in a dark room sandwiched between two old women in wheelchairs. The one on my right is my mom. We are watching An American in Paris. I don’t think I’ve seen it before. Over the last month, my mother’s health and well-being have preoccupied my life. As a writer, I’m not happy to have my writing schedule thrown off track, to miss deadlines, to feel my creativity stifled. However, as a daughter, I am far more distressed to see my mom decline.

As I adjust to my new normal, I find time to write, as I’m doing now, in odd places and situations. In a strange and sweet way, Mom has become my muse. I’m spending more time with her now than I have since I was a child and she was the one who tended me – keeping me safe and fulfilling my needs. The ultimate role-reversal.

Hanging out in a senior home, surrounded by elderly, is both heartbreaking and humorous. If you think kids say the darndest things, try talking to old people. In general, they have no filters – they say whatever comes to mind without regard to appropriateness. The other day at lunch (yes, I eat lunch here on occasion), an old lady said to her friend, “Don’t order dessert, you’re getting fat.” I nearly choked on my orange jello. As it turned out, her friend didn’t hear her, or she pretended not to, or she just didn’t care. She ordered pie a-la-mode and a cookie.

As writers, we are keen observers – every person is a story. I’ve seen countless interactions here  – a loving moment between husband and wife; an adult child holding her mother’s hand; a family bringing a new baby to meet Great-Grandpa. I imagine the pasts of these old people, who and what they used to be. The man who worked for the CIA, the woman who raised eight children on her own, the military couple who lived all over the world. vintage-1319058__180I think about the lives they were living decades ago, when they could run and drive and use power tools. The lives they lived before their bodies aged, their minds faded, or illness robbed them of independence.

I’m trying to remember my own mom as the woman she used to be – my mommy, my advocate, my champion. Right now, I  can’t, it’s just too hard. But someday I will. She would want that.

Note: I wrote this on August 24, 2016. My beautiful mom passed away six days later. I will be eternally grateful that, almost on a whim, I decided to spend that afternoon with her, watching a movie and holding her hand.

 

9 thoughts on “A Point in Time

  1. That was beautiful, Julie! We don’t respect our elderly like we should. They’ve lived interesting, successful and adventurous lives, and when they pass, it’s like “a library burning down.”
    I’m very sorry for your loss.

  2. I am so sorry you lost your mom. I am so glad you were able to be ‘present’ enough!
    (I know, never enough!) You will never get over the hurt, nor should you. But, with time, the hurt turns sweeter.
    Sindy

  3. Julie, I’m soooo sorry to hear about your mom. Such a huge loss no matter how old we are. I love your writing and particularly in this piece your wisdom and perspective on elderly people. Everyone should wear a sign with their “story” – it would be so interesting to know, right? Thank goodness you got to spend a lot of time with her these past months. You’ll NEVER regret that. Keep writing my friend – you do it beautifully!

  4. Beautiful and poignant Julie. I shared similar moments and experiences with each of my parents during their final stages of life. They were precious times and a gift in their own way. The hardest part was the role reversal between parent and child. Your Mom will be missed dearly by so many, especially her family. XX

  5. Such beautiful thoughts. So glad you had that time with her. And thank you for reminding us how wonderful it is to spend time with older people and to remember what treasures they are for all they achieved before their bodies and minds wore out.

  6. So sorry to hear of your loss. Your post is so right on. It is so hard to accept “the new normal” of your aging parents — they just aren’t the mom or dad you remember from your childhood and adult days. In a way I feel like you do a separate kind of grieving when this occurs as well as the “traditional” kind of grieving of when you actually lose them. Your post reminds us that they all have a story and that story Evolve’s just like anything else. Hugs to you.

  7. Julie, thank you for not only for sharing your very deep and personal feelings, but for reminding the world of the value of the elderly and memories! Your words are not just words written on a page, there is beautiful music of life in what you write.

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