Wednesday, September 29, 2010


after avoiding
after dawdling and washing my car
after stopping at the grocery store
after gathering my courage
I finally climbed the stairs
to the second floor of the nursing home
and crept down the hall to room 240
where my mother lives

how could I have thought for even a moment
that seeing her would be difficult

oh joy and smiles and tears
as we embrace for a long time
me rubbing her thin-fleshed back
and murmuring
mmmmmmm, oh mama, mama, mmmmm
her kissing my cheek
and repeating my name over and over
accepting each other's love

because she is 100% deaf
we use a dry-erase board
to communicate
I'd been afraid that she might not
be able to comprehend written sentences
at this time
but she does
even long, complex sentences

so we talk that way
me giving her news
about my sister and brothers
about my husband
about Yellowstone

she telling me her news...
seems she's been appointed
along with nine other scholars
to a special committee
of the Geneva Conference

ten scholars given the difficult task
to solve a problem of arithmetic
one that's never previously been solved...
the square root of seven

she, being the chairman of the committee,
has been very busy, she tells me
but she's happy and proud to say
that after several weeks
they have managed to solve the problem
and now the conference leaders
being satisfied with their work
have given her committee a new task

she apologizes in advance
saying she might have to attend
a meeting or two while I'm here
although they never meet for too many hours
I tell her how proud I am of her
and that it's OK about the meetings

this morning before I go to her again
(this time with warm anticipation)
I'm pondering her vivid fantasy life
and thinking about how getting old
might have some advantages after all

and Terri is so right
I am fortunate and blessed
to have her hands to hold
these many years
and still some time to come


  1. This is very timely for me, coming right on top of my post about hand holding. I can only imagine the comfort and warmth and other good feelings that flowed through your hands:)

  2. Fear for what you might find and anticipation of the worst. Be done with that and think positive thoughts. This is a different beginning for you. She has brought you into her fantasy world and she has found a way in her sickness to still be with you. How wonderful.

  3. Very touching - these memories will last your lifetime. How wonderful that you got to go, and had such a meaningful gift of those moments!
    Often in Nursing, a patient will say something metaphorical. Like "my teddy bear loves you" or "the boat is listing" and of course, the parallell is wonderfully obvious. Maybe?
    7 is such a meaningful number in our culture - and for her to have been asked to solve it....
    And the Geneva Convention = peace.
    She's solved and resolved her peace!
    May you (and all of us) find as eloquent way to find ours!

  4. I read your two posts back to back, so am posting here. I went through a similar feeling of avoidance when I went back east for my mother's passing. But it was okay. And your reunion went so very well! Maybe your siblings had trouble communicating with her because they didn't "get" what she was saying when she mentioned things like working out mathematics for the Geneva Conference. Whether it's a metaphor, a fantasy, or even a glimpse into "the other side," it's reality to your mother. By accepting what she's saying, you're letting her know that she's important and real, not someone to be humored along. And who knows? Maybe she does have important mathematical insight. I;m so happy this is going well. There may be some down times when your mom is having a bad day, but you know she's there and she knows you. That's golden!

  5. How blessed your mother is to have a daughter who understands and accepts the rich inner-workings of her mind. I hope the rest of your visit is just as enjoyable.

  6. Reading you current blog made me soooooooooooooo happy!!!! Old age might be more fun than I think.

  7. So keep this time close to you and make memories during this time with your mom.

  8. I wrote a post this morning but then my computer ate it. I'm so glad you are visiting your mama. As a nurse I was told to reorient confused pt's, but more often it's kinder and gentler to go with the fantasy. Sometimes profound truths are spoken when you go with it. Enjoy your time and know that she will.


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