Rest Peacefully Now

All day I face
the barren waste
without the taste
of water.
Cool Water.

Dan and I,
with throats burned dry
and souls that cry
for water.
Cool, clear water.

The nights are cool,
and I’m a fool.
Each stars a pool
of water.
Cool, clear water.

And with the dawn
I’ll wake and yawn
and carry on
to water.
Cool, clear water.

The Shadows sway
and seem to say,
“Tonight we pray
for water.”
Cool, clear water.

And way up there
He’ll hear our prayer
and show us where
there’s water.
Cool, clear water.

Keep moving Dan.
Don’t you listen to him Dan.
He’s the devil not a man.
He spreads the burning sands
With Water.

Say, Dan can’t you see
that big green tree
Where the water’s running free?
It’s waiting there for you and me.

And water
Cool, clear water.

Dan’s feet are sore.
He’s yearning for
just one thing more
than water.
Cool, clear water.

Like me I guess
he’d like to rest
where there’s no quest
for water.
Cool, clear water

Cool Water by Hank Williams Jr.

I said goodbye to my mom on Wednesday evening.  She was surrounded by her children as her breath became soft and then left her completely.   I stayed with her a while in the stillness.  She came to me in my dreams last night, reassuring me that she’s alright.  She is Loved.

A Very Adult Thanksgiving

My mother is smearing feces on her bathroom walls.  She’s also urinating in her closet at night.  No, she’s not insane.  She has Alzheimer’s – and it’s getting worse.  This was the recent report we received from her assisted living facility.  Happy Thanksgiving, right?

She slept through Thanksgiving last night.  You can call me compassionless, but I think it was for the best.  It was a quiet dinner with my sisters, unlike our rambunctious extended-family meals.  My sister compared it to dining in a restaurant – good wine, good food, candlelight, adult conversation and a little jazz in the background – then mom woke up, talking crazy like a street person.

We made her a plate and finished our wine as she ate, ranted, and rambled.  During our earlier dinner, we discussed inviting neighbors or friends over – and then I see her and realize it’s almost impossible.  Perhaps they would be more empathetic than I?  I ask myself how bad she’s going to get.  My answer is:  much worse.

Alzheimer’s can be hereditary.  There’s a window of time between when you discover you have Alzheimer’s and when the dementia advances until you can’t remember. This morning, I wonder what I would do if I found myself at that juncture.  My response is sobering and frightening.

The Forgetting

 

My mother is losing her mind.

 

I can’t count the number of times, as a teenager, I must have claimed that while living under her roof – in typical teenage hyperbole.  Now, the statement is real – it’s adult.  My mother has mid-stage Alzheimer’s.

 

While flipping channels today, I came across a program on PBS called “The Forgetting” (2004) about the disease and its effects on the stricken as well as their loved ones. I curled up on the couch and cried as I watched it.  It could have been based on our family.

 

I’ve seen the progression of the disease first hand.  First, they forget simple things and chalk it up to old age.  Then, they lie about the things they forget – telling stories to convince themselves and their family that their mind is fine.  Now, my mother realizes something is wrong with her thinking.  “Why do I feel so weird”, she asks, “Why doesn’t my brain work”.  We explain to her, repeatedly, that it’s part of the disease of Alzheimer’s, but she doesn’t remember our explanations – the irony of the disease. 

 

One of the comments that hit close to home was a woman who has difficulty responding to the inevitable question, “How is your sister?”  She responds, “What am I going to tell you?  She’s losing her mind”.  I understand exactly how she feels. I know they mean well, but what am I suppose to say? Her mind is slowing disintegrating. We are losing her – there’s no cure and no miracle is going to happen. 

 

We have tough decisions to make in the years ahead.  I have fear that the disease could be my fate as well. I try not to think about it.  When we are together, we try to make our get-togethers as pleasant as possible for her, but she forgets within minutes.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s better that she can’t remember or comprehend what’s happening.