mortality

Feed the Birds

Feed the Birds mom in meadow

 

My 85 year old mother is staying with me. Her two month visit has been extended to four months, owing in part to health challenges. Her cognition is erratic. Porpoising. Sometimes up and sometimes diving down.

 

During this volatile period, I’ve found myself without guideposts or markers. I wake up not knowing what to expect.  One day last week I couldn’t locate Mom. After searching the house and the neighborhood, I found her in the guest apartment, hiding from a nightmare.

 

The next day she cheerfully announced she needed a daily chore list. I complied. Sweep the driveway. Empty the dishwasher. Brush the dog. Refill the bird bath. Water the plants. Now she gets up and goes to her chores. She is much happier.

 

In this time of unknowing I’m finally driven to practice some of the mindfulness stances I’ve read about for years: be open, stay awake, connect, be present, surrender.

 

The most helpful practices are totally ordinary.  We watch classic movies (Mary Poppins last night) read Dave Barry columns aloud, walk, cook, do chores, and feed birds.  These are my main spiritual practices now. They’re teaching me gratitude, acceptance and trust– trust in the present moment. That it is enough.

 

Another kind of practices are teaching me about surrender.. These include paying attention to blood pressure and medications.  And encouraging reminiscences, which take a lot of time. And letting go of what I thought I had to be doing, my routine ways of working and being which feel less pressing now.

 

We have only a month left together before she returns to the East Coast. A month to watch the birds, to write down every one we see.  A month to marvel at the splashing and chirping, the beads of water glinting in tiny beaks, the drops rainbowing from ordinary brown wings.

 

robin note


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by admin in family, personal reflection, spirituality, 0 comments

Sonoran Blues and White Quartz

momandfrankietrail2.jpg

Last week I took my 84 year old mother to the airport. She went home to Massachusetts, accompanied by my brother, who came out to fetch her. She’s been visiting me for two months, enjoying a respite from the snow. She’s also been enjoying walks in the canyon, jigsaw puzzles, Mary Stewart Gardner mysteries, Senior Moments potlucks at church, and one Old Fashioned every evening. She also enjoyed the mini dachshund and read the paper to him every morning, greatly enhancing his education, although I wished she’d turned her efforts towards his house-breaking instead.

Mom and I dubbed it the year of the butterfly. The Stagecoach trail has been aflutter the last month, particularly with rare Sonoran Blues, aquamarine, tiny as a fingernail, dancing in pairs alongside the path. Mom also picked up white quartz crystals gleaming along the trail. She thought she might bring them home but has left them in a pile by the washing machine. Too heavy, she decided. She also left, to my surprise, a beautiful heart-shaped rock beneath the icon in my office. She rested it carefully against a gnarled piece of driftwood.

Although I’m free to get back to my own schedule, the house feels empty. When I went to strip the bed, I found her reading glasses and rosary beads. “Don’t mail them to me,” she said when I called. “I’ll either be back for them next year, or I won’t.”


 

Posted by admin in family, 2 comments