It’s the odd little things that catch me: some middle-aged woman helping her old mum cross the road, a man sitting drinking coffee with his elderly mother, an elderly gentleman talking quietly with a teenage grandson. Things I will never get to experience. Mum will never be an old woman. Dad was never an old man.
I have really struggled with understanding what I need to write about this week. It seems much harder, which is probably a great reflection of the rollercoaster week it’s been. It’s not as though there has been anything too dramatic regarding Mum’s health – I think that we’ve all accepted (including Mum) that it is declining whether we like it or not.
Today Mum is still like statue. She’s here but she’s not. Her body isn’t reading any signals to move and her face shows peace.
I dress her in her pretty shirt that she picked out, help her into a chair, put her tiny tub of Bircher muesli and cup of tea next to her and we both sit. Still. Like statues.
This is part of My Mother’s Journey
How do you define one day from the next when you are dying
It’s a way we humans greet each other: How are you? And sometimes we care about the answer we give or receive, other times it’s like an entrée to the true discussion.
It seems easier to say that Mum’s okay, doing fine, than delving into the morbid details of the process of dying. I search my mind for some interesting tidbit that isn’t going to bore, or overwhelm people.
Even my response about myself has flatlined to a ‘tired’ because what else could I be.
The odd one out
It’s hard feeling like the odd one out. I am an introvert in an extroverted family. I crave silence, and while I love to see my friends, I re-energise by myself.
Mum is an extrovert, not that she would say that she is ‘out there’ or anything, but she is an extrovert or ‘someone who is concerned chiefly with what is external or objective’ (Macquarie Dictionary). Another way it was described to me in the early nineties during that whole Myers Briggs movement, is that an extrovert is someone who gains energy from others whereas an introvert is someone whose energy is drawn by others.
Mum. She’s dying. Ever since Judy our dog died when I was Ms Brand’s class in Grade 4, I have known that death is there, and that it is okay. Still, it’s hard and some deaths are harder than others. I find it especially hard when someone who is so alive, is suddenly dying.
With Mum it feels bittersweet. She knows where she’s going, and she’s following Dad to the same place. It’s where her eternal peace and love is and she has no fear. I’m sad for me and my kids. We will miss her and all her ways: wise advice, pragmatic opinions, and deep conversations. She’s the woman who introduced me to reading, writing (see my other posts about how she challenged me from being too bland and formulaic), gardening, sewing, cooking, music, play and God. She was also a great role model in mature age study, independent life within a loving marriage, and volunteerism.