Is it me or did the world flip over today? Mary E. Latela, October 19, 2015
My brother called this morning to chat, and to remind me that this is also the anniversary of Mom’s death four years ago, because he knows that I want to be reminded. I’ll say more about that time later on.
During chaplaincy training, I worked with a lady named Ruth on the Advanced Alzheimer’s Unit. She was so very confused, noisy, repetitive, yet somehow endearing. I always greeted her. Toward the end, a nurse met me at the entrance of the ward and told me that Ruth seemed to be dying. Curtains were drawn around her bed. Soft classical music played. I was invited to sit with her as much as I liked. Over the next few days she seemed to rest, her eyes became clear blue, her skin almost glowed. It was as if all the distractive stuff of her illness had been peeled back. She was finding her freedom. She lay quietly, and in a couple of days I received word that Ruth had died during the night.
This morning, I took out the beautiful portait I had taken of Mom on that Christmas afternoon when we were all together at my brother’s home. There was so much stuff on the table and in the room, that I had to get in very close and had to crop the final picture. It came out beautifully, so well in fact that I made copies, encased them in mahogany frames, and sent them to the sibs.
I placed the photograph on my cedar chest, lit a pink candle, and sat and watched it for a while. What am I doing? Why am I mesmerized by this picture, by the scented candle, by unformed thoughts brushing through my mind?
Now I know. This is Mom – without speech, without that anger that exploded in her, a mystery about what she was thinking – by then she didn’t know our names. This is Mom, he brown eyes clear, alabaster skin lovely. She was losing her role in our family drama, bystander, non-protector, aloof, too tired to share herself with us. Requiescat in Pace.