Saturday, October 07, 2006

On Aging

Bea gazes up at the basket of colorful flowers, delivered on behalf of her nieces and nephews, and smiles. The light that reflects her spirit makes the ninety-seven-year-old face look beautiful this morning. I want to remember my mother this way, satisfied with life, happy, ready to let go.

Last night Bea almost choked. I pulled her up into a sitting position and desperately tried to pat her on the back. The food had gone down her windpipe, not a pleasant experience. She spit up a lot of thick saliva afterwards.

Swallowing food remains a challenge. I bring pears and porridge. Bea accepts two spoonfuls, then turns her head away. She is not hungry today. Something more urgent needs attention:

“Where’s my baby?” she demands.

“I’m here,” I say. “I’m your baby.”

Bea doesn’t look convinced. No, she is searching the room for a child, not a grown-up person. Distress fills her eyes. If she could only get up, she would do so in an instant and locate the recalcitrant infant she has lost.

We resume breakfast. Bea almost chokes on a piece of pear. I quickly switch to ice cream.

“Whose child are you?” she demands with suspicion.



“Preposterous!” my mother’s voice says. “Much too old!”

Then Bea starts talking nonsense.

I cannot bear the degradation and stay away, except to change her brief. How hard it is to care for an aged loved one!

I age, I aged, I am aging.

Before Bea reached extreme old age, she wrote this lovely poem:

On Aging

Bring me
in the spring.

Bring me new words
like “esoteric”
and “irony.”
I need to know
what they mean
while there is time
to use them.

Bring me a black checker
marked with a coronet.
Tell me why it uses
such a symbol.

Maybe it isn’t a checker
after all
and comes from Halablu,
a land where people
line up like chickens
in a barnyard
pecking order.

Before bed, I order daffodil bulbs from an online nursery, hundreds of them …


Blogger Karyn said...

This actually brought tears to my eyes. My father didn't know me at the end of his life, asking for me by name but unable to accept that the adult in front of him was his little daughter. Spring will be beautiful where those daffodils bloom...

11:59 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home