I’m here in Marietta, Ohio, with Stephen caring for my 94 year old mother for a week while my sister and her husband go on a well-deserved vacation. Mom now needs more or less constant supervision, and it is particularly hard for her, because she has been so active and independent all her life. Still, it’s amazing to see this very intelligent person operate in this new environment. She can’t see much any more, but we can work a crossword puzzle together, and she gets more of the words than I do.
I’ve been looking for good, healing things to do with mom. So for one thing, I make at least one home cooked meal a day, and try to make it things that she actually taught ME how to cook. That is going ok. Today I tried to make tuna salad the way she likes it. But of course, having no food grinder or sieve here, I took the food processor short cut. It turned out too thin. I served it to her with tomato soup, her favorite. “How’s that tuna salad, mom,” I asked. She thought it was pretty good. That is what I thought too, just ok, not great.
Last night she watched TV for the first time in weeks, maybe months. She found out the democratic debate was on. “Oh, I want to see that!” she waxed enthusiastically. So we got her comfortable in the recliner. “I want to see what this Obama fellow looks like,” she chimed as we turned on the TV. She was very disappointed that she couldn’t see him though. But she listened intently to everything he said, her head cocked to the good side. (Stephen and I were totally disgusted with ABC’s “gladiator coverage” of the debate, but we said nothing to her.) After over an hour, she was very tired. “I guess I’m going to have to give up, before it’s over. That Obama fellow, he would probably make a very good vice president.” This is a turnaround for her; before the debate, she didn’t trust him.
Today, I took a walk along this beautiful hilltop country road. On the way back to the house, I found myself picking mom a boquet of violets. And I remembered a poem I wrote for mom 45 years ago. As I entered her bedroom she immediately inquired, “What have YOU GOT there?!” I told her it was a boquet of violets. She was thrilled with it. “They look black to me,” she said. And later, “I can’t smell them, either, must be something wrong with my smeller.” I told her that I was going to sing this song I wrote for her 45 years ago and she IMMEDIATELY began to sing the words and the tune for the first couple of lines. And so I sang it for her, acapella, which was dumb, because I could scarcely get through it with out tearing up. Stephen, too. But mom just smiled and smiled.
Spring is here, mother dear, put your winter away.
Have you seen, skies are green, clouds are no longer gray.
Nature knows that the rose soon will spring from the earth
With a gladness that comes from rebirth.
Mother dear, dry the tear that is masking your smile.
Though you’re sad, still you’re glad all the while.
Winter wear, winter care, are disgarded each year,
Join the rest, spring is best, spring is here.
And so here in these days that mother is putting her winter away, we are able to remember the springs, summers, and falls of our lives together, and it is really good. And really sad.