A Scuffle with My Mother
Yesterday, I got into a fight with my eighty-six year old mother. You ask how is this possible and I say, its completely so.
I had an hour between meetings near her care home and the sun was a glorious golden orange for the afternoon. My mother loves the sun, and in my heart, I know it helps lighten her attitude.
I found her exiting her room, following lunch and a clothing change by one of the caregivers. As she approached me, we exchanged hello’s, she with faint recognition of me. Since she was already making forward progress, and she gets easily distracted, I immediately coaxed her towards the door to the courtyard.
“Let’s go outside, Mom.”
“Why? To get some sun?”
“But I don’t want to get sun.”
“But you love the sun.”
“No, I don’t.”
Exasperated, but determined, I knew her time in the sun was waning, as colder weather approached and she tended not to venture outdoors at the slightest chill, not understanding she simply needed a coat or sweater.
She grabbed my pinky finger and began to twist it around. Her face curled up in snarl.
“Ow. Mom that hurt.” I scolded her.
“Well. Well,” she replied with little knowledge of the pain she had inflicted – and why.
“Oh, Mom. I know you hate me telling you what to do, but just trust me.”
And suddenly, her eyes brightened. “Yes,” she answered. She followed me obediently towards the door, though it wasn’t clear which she was responding yes to, my bossiness towards her or her trust in me.
I maneuvered around her body, as she still had my hand in a death grip, to lead her to a chair in the sunshine. She no sooner sat down, relieved, closed her eyes and muttered, “Oh. That sun today is something else.”
Yes, it was something else. She was something else. For between those moments of loving each other, we both fought for control, we were both something else.
An hour later, I left her seated on the chair, snoozing with glass of strawberry Gatorade in hand, wondering if she would spill it on herself when she woke. I didn’t care. I will lose this war with her dementia, but at least for the day, I won a small skirmish. She, in the glorious sun, won a little battle too.
This piece was inspired by the declining number of days in which I know Mom will be able to sit outside at peace.
Her head drops
amidst the blue screen of sky,
as if her crown has landed
on a white pillow of down.
she is the picture of infant innocence
even past eighty-six.
God has painted her as art today,
a stained glass creation.
Close up, diamonds of skin
are flushed in flesh.
Her lips have been brushed with a faint rose.
Her ears softly fold over pixie-cut
gray hair. Brown lashes and brows –
near invisible lines –
He has deftly touched
to define what she can still see.
Occasionally, His masterpiece
wakes to the chirp of a bird
then returns to slumber in sun,
his final touches glazed in bronze.
She will never be more beautiful
than in this
moment of mastery,
subject of the maker’s brush.