Monday, July 8, 2024

Decline and fall of motherhood

Despite local working circumstances, I was able to celebrate my mother's 90th birthday in person last month. It has been a long time since I've seen her. My brother has been in charge of her care for quite some time now. She is aging in the way her mother did, healthy of body, frail of mind.

I've noticed a change in her interal monologue over the past year. It's changed. I used to call her and she'd talk about my brother and his family, now the calls are about how she is fine and not to worry about her. There isn't worry, but there is concern.

She can be mentally 'there' at points in time, but there's a loss of the internal mind consistency. I helped her get her hair washed while I was there, after some appeal to her vanity, and there were a couple of false starts as she struggled to find the shampoo. She's losing the memory of objects in her place and if things aren't readily visible, they may not be found at all. She has a fridge full of leftovers that she forgets to eat from what I can tell. I have a hunch her body is telling her she's hungry, but she sees the plates and thinks "I've already eaten." and then doesn't sustain herself properly.

On her birthday, I arrived at her apartment and met a couple of women from her church she attended in the early 2000s through the mid 2010s. I don't know if she knew them well during her time there, but it was nice to see the outreach. We went out on an almost two hour drive around her former house, the church she spent time at, her mother's house from when I knew my grandmother, my old schools nearby, and the general neighborhood. She remembered none of them. What was particularly maudlin was the unrecognition of her house and church. She spent so much time in both places and kept them well. She wasn't sad about it, that was for me. She was happy to be about observing the late June Missouri countryside. I was happy to be there with her.

There will be a cessation of these events, hers and mine. Both of our lives have been and will be fleeting. It has been both a long time and a short one depending on one's perspective.

I have questions about my youth and hers which won't be answered. I can bear those regrets and I can celebrate what she time she has left. Love you mom, even though you won't read these words or see this photo.

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