A Wonderful Day

It has taken me two and a half hours and two mugs of very strong coffee to wake up this morning. I spent most of that time sitting in the stiff old love seat in the next room, marveling at the layer of dust on my mother�s old oak dining table, and at many other things � indoor and outdoor sounds, thoughts, memories, the hungry July sunlight gnawing at the blinds.

Late last night, just before she went to bed, my mother thanked me for �a wonderful day.� She had forgotten its rocky, sad beginning, the disappointment she had felt, the pain, the questions, the fears, and how part of the time she had thought I was someone else.

�What did my mother die of?� she asked me at one point, her eyes closed.

�Nothing in particular, really. Old age.�

�I hope she didn�t feel like this.�

�It�s hard to know how she felt. Everyone is different.�

When my mother�s sisters couldn�t take care of her anymore, they moved my grandmother to a nursing home in Napa, not far from where one of the sisters still lives. It was a long drive, but we visited her there several times. She didn�t know us. She was confined to a wheelchair, and seemed unaware, even, of her hands in her lap. My mother used to brush her long white hair.

Now, she is rarely able to see a connection between our visits with her mother and her own situation. There are brief moments of understanding, but they quickly evaporate. As long as I am here to take care of her, she feels safe. She has no idea how tired I am, and doesn�t notice, and cannot imagine, the effect her condition is having on me, my wife, and the rest of the family. Nor has she grasped the fact that there will likely come a time when I am no longer able to take care of her here at home.

If and when that time comes, I hope she doesn�t know it. For now, I�m glad when she thinks she�s had a wonderful day.

July 24, 2006

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