Sunday, April 1, 2012

The long good-bye II

The hurtful things my mother said to my sister and me at our visit last week are haunting me now like ghosts.
Relaxing at home, I resumed reading a young adult novel I bought to share with my grandson, and suddenly I remembered Mom saying "You're reading a kids book on your Nook? I guess you can't handle anything more challenging now."  
But I didn't argue and then we read Nooks in silence, and Mom said the best part of my visit was the last two silent hours. 
Maybe talking to her is no longer an option, and sitting with her silently is best.
Maybe when I visit, she remembers things we enjoyed doing together the past twenty years, which we cannot do now, and I assume she is irritated with me when she is irritated by her limitations.
Maybe that's why she tells my sister in California that we had the best time ever, as if she forgets the unpleasant parts the minute I hug her good-bye or  as soon as she falls asleep.
Maybe she cannot remember her discomfort and short-temper with me, the same way she cannot remember that she told me the same story sixty minutes before she repeats it again, or the way she confuses names.
"Chris died March 5th, you know," she said and my heart fell to the floor, because Chris is my baby brother with small kids and a pregnant wife.
My brother Tim died March 5, 1989, when he was run-over trying to cross a road and now I regret arguing with her about which son was dead and whether she said the wrong name or I heard the wrong words.
I remembered friends -- several -- whose mother turned quarrelsome and controlling the last years of their lives, and doctors advised my friends that the person they knew as their mother was not there any more, that her heart and mind grew vague and dim as the ribbon of her life unraveled to the very end..
When I look at it that way, I don't mind letting my own mind and heart unravel with her.     

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