Today is my Mother’s 85th birthday. She was 25 when she had me, her oldest daughter (second of seven children). Now her life is wrapping up. After a series of many small strokes or “episodes,” she has significant cognitive loss according to testing. (Not Alzheimer’s.) She was a registered nurse for many years (maybe 50?). But now she cannot recall many words that used to be easy for her and she more often loses her train of thought, which frustrates her.
Yet every Monday we have these amazing conversations, talking of our week, our lives, our memories. I try to be calming and newsy: what’s going on with the kids, my husband, or my writing. We try not to talk too much about the medical. I may describe a squirrel swishing his tail on the tree in front of me. And we both remember that my Dad loved to watch the antics of squirrels in our backyard. I am grateful she knows who I am and remembers what is going on with our family. We both consciously treasure these conversations, this time we still have. This is the most recent poem for her.
An Ordinary Conversation
My mother wanted to remember
and I want to remember
this particular conversation
which started out about disarray
of a problematic week and
took a journey to calm consideration
of life as it plays out.
And if her voice is rough, throat dry
and if memory slips in and out
well, so what? Here we are still
talking of past and mostly present
telling stories that mean something
lending support, encouragement
eye to eye, heart to heart.
What could be better than that?
Margaret Dubay Mikus