Sunday, July 22, 2007

Poem: Cherish Your Last MomentsTogether

Cherish Your Last Moments Together

I walk towards her

not yet seen

so I can sigh

it did not take long

before she began

to look like one of them

92 years old, my mom

two weeks ago in the hospital she did not look like one of them

now her gray hair brushed back institutionally flat

no make up

blank expression

slumped in her wheel chair

blank expression

breakfast crumbs on her blouse

blank expression

where is her wedding ring?

blank expression

“hi mom”

for the first time she does not recognize me

focusing her eyes

then the smile

pushing up against her cheeks

brightening her eyes

and she starts to cry

she had not seen me yesterday

where had I been?

she was worried something had happened

“mom I couldn’t see you yesterday

every day is becoming hard

and you’re not here

two weeks from the hospital

you have to get used to being here

at least until you’re stronger

maybe when you’re stronger

you can move back”

the phone rang, interrupting the lie

it was on the table next to her

she looked at it

she looked at it

the suite was three months ago

a distant dream for her

sitting in her retirement community

the illusion of independence

aides and nurses there every hour

giving her the medications

helping her use the washroom

but she could sit on her own couch

watch her own tv

in her private apartment

moving her to this nursing home

splintered her confidence

each day a little more frightened

a little more confused

a little more unable

putting her this environment has worn her down

like a glorious wooden sculpture

always out in the sun and rain and ice

daring life, living in the moment

beautiful until its creator forgets it

and no longer protects it

the sculpture ages and dries

the beautifully carved wood cracks

splintering piece by piece in the wind

until nothing is left

but the memory

the memory of her

I look at her now

she already is a memory

has been for a while

I remember my mother, sitting next to her

that is why she is in this nursing home

that is why she lives her last days in a facility

that is why we no longer have a use for her

she has not been here for months


five years ago, after that surgery

she could not add her cheque book

two years ago she suddenly forgot

how to use the message system on the phone

I will never forget

driving in the rain to her retirement suite

to show her how to press the buttons

I will never forget

this will not happen to me

I will never forget

she will otherwise disappear

I try to cherish our time together

it is a challenge to cherish a cruel joke

yes I’m neurotic and worry too much

she gets worried but ten minutes later she has forgotten

and we share a joke together

I leave her smiling

then drive home in the night gripping the wheel

I have it good

most of my friends their parents are gone

at least she is still here

I can look after her

I can be her son

I can slip into childhood memories so easily with her

we enjoy those golden days

she can not remember lunch

but recalls vividly our playing in Brookville Park

for a few moments now we play together again

she is always the mother

but I can never again be the child

the child does not push the wheelchair

and I pretend to let her look after me

with endless questions

what I have eaten

have I had enough sleep, how is work

I let her mother me

give me advice like I should eat better

and there is some comfort in being that child again

until she asks the questions all over again

and I remember it is just pretend

but I was her child for a moment more

finally there is our time together

last times together, knowing the end is near

sitting in the same room

looking at the family photos on the wall

the blue sky through the window

knowing I can reach out and touch her hand

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