a Rip van Winkle moment with my mother

by kye on June 22, 2010

Her eyes opened, and opened all the way, and stayed open. I said, “this is your daughter, this is Kye” and she nodded once, decisively: “I know that,” said her nod. “Would you like me to tell you the news, or sit quietly with you?” No response. I considered. What was there to lose? I started talking.

Her eyes stayed on mine with total attention. When the news was the kind she likes (“I’m going to go up to see M. this week.”) her face would melt into a quiet little beam. When it was said news (“there’s been a terrible oil spill in the Gulf,” and “the economy is not good”) her forehead creased in distress. She was awake; she knew me; she was there.

Forty-five minutes later? an hour? I asked, “have I worn out your brain?” A rusty little “No” came in response–the first speech I’ve heard in a couple of months. So I told her about what I’m writing (the Tao Te Ching commentary), and her mouth made an ‘oh!’ shape, and she she smiled.

There’s no telling what I’ll find next time I go, but what a miracle and a gift that time was!

  • Madeleine Kolb

    Kye, How hard it must be to visit your mother and not be certain whether she will be “there” or not. It must be heartening to have her respond as she did during this visit. I wonder what her illness feels like to her.

  • kye

    It was harder at first; but lately especially it's gotten much easier. There is something to be said for the power of familiarity. Partly it's just that the thing itself has become unsurprising. Also, little ways of coping arrive over time, small rituals and ways of being with oneself.

    When she was able to talk, it appeared that she didn't really know she was ill. She doesn't seem to suffer from the '2nd order' kind of suffering engendered by anxiety. Her face is usually peaceful; sometimes she'll look a little distressed but not in general.

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