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Kit Currie – Missing Woman and my Thoughts

Published August 26, 2014 by megdedwards

Fair Play or Foul Play – Awaken my Rage against Violence Against Women

Kit Currie - missing since August 14th - Last seen on Queen and Bathurst inToronto

Kit Currie – missing since August 14th – Last seen at  Queen and Bathurst in Toronto

I am re-posting this post about a missing woman who was last seen at Queen and Bathurst in downtown Toronto, jumping on her bike. As soon as I saw her photo with her wide smile and two braids I thought of a friend of mine. When I saw where she lived and read that she did art modeling like me, I felt an extra affinity.

I feel a ‘fellowship’ with all women but this woman is very like me. It could have been me. Or my old pal from Toronto. Woman and girls go missing every day and they are of all races and classes and sizes. But this one looks like me and that sort of strikes into my heart a little deeper.

I know it is selfish to feel more empathy for a person who looks like you, but I suppose it is human nature. I can picture my friend hopping on her your bike and heading to .. What happened to her? Where is she?

The thoughts that run through my mind (and the police investigators) are: did she have a crazed ex boyfriend, a weird colleague at work? Was she randomly taken? All these things are possible and have happened recently.

There was a woman in Moncton who was grabbed by a strange man and locked in his basement for a month who escaped and can tell the tale now. There was the woman my age who was stabbed to death early in the morning in the alley a few years ago in Toronto when I was visiting my Mom. They did not know why she had been stabbed and I couldn’t help but think, are middle aged woman being randomly stabbed now? But the murderer turned out to be from her homeland and resentful of her position as manager at their workplace.

Obviously I don’t need to look for specific examples of women killed by their ex spouses.

We are always sort of hoping that our actions and our style of living is the right one for survival. We may not say it aloud when we read the news but a quiet voice is saying, ‘I would have avoided that’. It helps us feel safe. But when a fearless strong trusting woman disappears, it sends a shadow over me.

I know there is threat of violence at all times. Women live with that as a constant. It is our underlying reality. It is always there.

Recently I have had a person calling and hanging up the phone at any hour night and day. If I stayed on the line, they stayed for a while and then hung up. I never talked. I remembered what a police man had told me long ago, that if they don’t say your name then they probably don’t know where or who you are. But it still made me feel under surveillance and harassed.

Eventually I convinced my husband that this was something other than an electronic automatic call gone weird. He could see that it was beginning to upset me. He started answering the phone every time it rang and the calls stopped. A male voice was all I needed.

When the calls were day and night I started looking over my shoulder; what man around my neighborhood had been looking at me weirdly. There was the skinny dude looking me up and down at the gas station… Does he think I need to be taught a lesson? Too confident in my body? Is there a man who has become obsessed or decided he hates me? Enough to harass me?

If a man is attracted to you but hates you, you could be in big trouble.

My effect on misogynists is almost immediate. As soon as they see me they don’t like me and I smell them as soon as they walk in the room. I watch and wait for the signs. How quickly do they demean a women in my presence. Do they always turn to the man in the room when they speak? Do they sort of sneer when I talk? Do I see in their eyes the distinct critical light of a man who feels uncomfortable with my body language?

Ever since I was a young woman I take this as an invitation for a fight. Especially when I was a hot tempered young 20 year old I would speak my mind and speak it clearly and see how they reacted. I remember a very big man arguing with me about something at a party and eventually he was looming over me as I sat on a chair below him. I pointed out his body language to him, ‘look at you showing how much bigger and stronger than me you are’!

His face went all red and he left the room. A bright red face in an argument meant I had won. I took it as a flag of triumph if a man who thought he was superior to me would get all red in the face when arguing with me. I would think to myself, well, aren’t you all upset because I have not agreed with you.

If a man tries to push me about I stand up as strong as I can. If there is the presumption that I should be too scared to look him in the eye. That is what I do. I look him in the eye.

I puff up like an angry cat that will not be brought down easily. I swear to God that if I am ever raped and murdered, if that is the way I am going to die, I am going down fighting. I will fight til I die. I will not go down quietly. I will knee the groin and stomp the top of the foot, I will poke eyes out and jam my hand in the throat. I will do some goddamn damage. Just so you know.

I am not weak and I will fight to the death. That is what I start thinking about when I hear of a fifty year old woman disappearing. All of us women do.

For any man that does not know that this is the reality of a woman’s life no matter what race or class or religion or part of the world she lives in, take note! This is what we live with when we bravely go to work at night or lock the doors and close the windows of our apartment at night when it would be nice to let in the breeze.

These are the roaming thoughts of a sister. I hope that Kit Currie is alright. As a woman,  my immediate thoughts are of ‘foul play’. Foul Play, what a term. Like there are rules in this game that was not written by or for women. Foul play: unfair or treacherous conduct especially with violence; not playing by the rules of the game.

My deepest wish is that she had a bit of a break down and will be alright soon. Have strength. Fair play to you. Please don’t be another victim of male rage.

If Van Gough was a woman, he would be my friend Kit..

In Memoria Mum

Published February 25, 2014 by megdedwards

In memory of ‘Mom’, known as ‘Nana’ to her grand children and ‘Nananat’ to her hordes or admiring younger women friends and ‘Nat’ or “Natalie’ to her cohorts in her own age group,

I shall quote from a journal dated 1960.  On the opening pages of a date book it is inscribed M D Edwards, Production (Radio) Radio Building 305 and Mom has lightly scratched out Dad’s name and written Old Lady.

The first page has a list of her children and their sizes for her sewing projects.

The second page begins with a quote in capital letters:

AFTER ALL, A MAN WHO HATES DOGS AND CHILDREN CAN’T BE ALL BAD…

W C FIELDS

This is followed by,

” I try to look forward gaily to the 60’s but the thought of the next ten years…strikes terror..”

That one sentences reminded me of a painful patch of mine when I was dragging myself through anxiety and depression. I kept smiling while barely eating or sleeping.

You know when you are in love and every time you meet someone or talk to someone you wonder if they are in love? Or when you are pregnant and you see pregnant women everywhere? Well anxiety and depression has a similar effect. You wonder how people get to old age, and why. Every individual encounter leaves you wondering what keeps that person going.

When I read Mom’s sentence I realized she must have been exhausted. She could not picture getting my brother Rhys (who was very sick on and off) from seven to seventeen.

How does it happen? And then it does! And everything changes in ten years in ways you never would have expected.

From the first page you know the rest of the journal  is going to be interesting, and it is. Her insights do reassure young mothers and ‘homewives’  (as my child calls me)  even now.

Natalie is an industrious wife; painting, cleaning,sorting and budgeting madly while caring for her 3 little children. She is thoughtful about her faults and her diary is interspersed with information on the children and their development, comments about marriage, reviews of theater and books, and recounting many parties and informal gatherings of drinking.

A comment on my Dad that I find more funny than depressing because, well, I am married.

“Murray off to Guelph – thank heavens! Phew. He’s been worse than impossible to live with lately. Furious at catching ‘my’ cold ( but of course he always catches everyone’s and mad as hops at me for daring to get ANOTHER!) – and no doubt worried and concerned very much (and this I think is it) over his folks arrival and the problems he will have to face – and added to this the continual thesis – the thesis he scarcely works on and yet is always there – – .. so Let’s hope he enjoys his trip away as much as I think I will.”

Then she moves on to one of her bursts of honest self analysis:

” A horrible conclusion today – struck me as a result of something I happened to read  – that I am one of those women who see their ‘job’ primarily as a shopper and cook; a housekeeper, cleaner etc. – as opposed to those who see themselves first as wife, companion and mother of their children. I do indeed think of my value as useful, economic etc. – how capably I shop is far too important. Why? On reflection, to consider my value from the human standpoint is certainly preferable. I’ll think more on this – perhaps the key to change in me is right here.”

“I try, of course, to rationalize myself out of this and look for some way in which it could be the OM (Old Man) ‘s fault. (if he didn’t think of me that way I ..) but realize it’s quite useless. All too obviously this relates only to me – and I think I’ve made an obvious and a stupid error, underestimating my self and giving little value compared to what I could by a different outlook to Murray and children.”

She continues, “Colds are loathsome and so in my temper. Rhys does 100,000 disobedient things – resort to wooden spoon. All unhappy”.

The details of her diary bring the sixties housewife to life. Well, this sixties housewife. She is always taking on huge jobs while juggling the three little children. And then having a party. She delights in recounting good meals and good theater. She writes down what flowers she has planted and what colour she has painted the back entry. She writes some details about the children’s health and school.

She has a house cleaner. (Oh, what I would give for a woman to help me clean my massive house too, it is not just the extra hands but the company).

“Mrs Mueller cleans up and we all feel  better for it – also things better too and I keep distance and try to hold temper. On verge – if I ‘m good I’ll get children on my side and then OK ,of course. Mustn’t be so  nervous and irritable –  Just like my Dad! Ah if only I could recapture that sweet calm negligent attitude of pregnancy for other times!”

The next page:

“Paint the kitchen radiator from 2- 2:30 solid (use aluminum paint). Then sand and paint the little tricycle for Kate.  Spent nearly all a.m. repairing trikes: fixed the pedal back on Rhys’ (Liz’s now) and then drilled holes in Kate’s saddle and bolted seat back on and repaired pedal etc. Feel clever and useful. (smiley face). Bake an angel food cake too. And don’t lose temper at all (face with halo over it, smiling). ”

She also worries and frets and feels anxious about cost of new dryer until they finally decide what to buy and have it in installed. (No she does not install it herself).

“Laundered- oh blessed dryer! What a joy!! What a difference it makes to  my work- and I can dry anytime- and laundering seems so little effort now- ha heaven! (big smiley face!)”

Can you believe that I don’t have a dryer? Well, I don’t. Have not had one for ten years and I have got used to it. But, blessed dryer, you could dry any old time!

One more bit, but this could go on all day:

“Had a dream – woke up after hysterical screaming ( in sleeping – not real) and all I can recall now was that Rhys had died- I kept realizing I’d never feel his soft skin and his hair. I couldn’t get over the awful horror of him gone; couldn’t believe – oh it was a hideous dream – and also in my dream someone else died soon before and I remember feeling I was losing everyone. And then I woke up – my anguished screaming still resounding in my head- and slowly became aware of the truth – the lovely sweet truth! I lay still and appreciated it quietly and peacefully – and then I went up to see Rhys and we lay and talked and I touched the soft skin and the hair and we smiled at each other. How wonderful! In my dream I recall he looked so young and soft and little, and surely he is – just a little boy. It was a good dream and I hope it has done me good- for I forget how close everything can be to the end at anytime; I forget to appreciate. ”

All right, you have heard from time vault today. The 1960’s appeared before your eyes. Your house wife,even while cleaning and drilling holes in tricycles, was most likely wearing a pretty dress that she had sewn herself, tight around her tiny waist. She had on large black glasses and her blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail. She was proud of her house and her dramatic and moody husband working in theater and radio. She loved her beautiful children, especially when they were good. When she dressed up she wore red lipstick and put foundation on her nose, which she considered big and red.

Now  I must run off and clean and cook. By the time I was a young maturing girl my Mom had left this sixties housewife life long behind. She left a different legacy with me. When I was 13 she was changing her life – it was all about writing and working and loving, but more of that later.

I missed you but I was busy thinking

Published December 2, 2013 by megdedwards

portrati of meg by frankI have gone through a quiet stage. I even hesitate to write in my journal.  Sometimes I feel tired just thinking about putting my thoughts into writing.

But I don’t feel bad or sad at all. I am cruising. I am thinking.

I remember talking with an American cousin of mine about whether natural birth changed the character of the person born. Did the painful and intense process of going through the birth channel make the person different compared to those that were born by opening up the belly and emerging directly into air?

She said something about ‘pra sess’ and I did not know what she said at first but then I recognized the American accent and the word ‘process’.  Now whenever I am thinking about the concept of ‘process’ in  psychological  development I say ‘pra sess’ to myself.

I am ‘pra sessing’.

My Mom died last spring on March 1 st.  I am still thinking about that and what it is like to go forward without a mother for the rest of my life. It did not  happen before time, in fact it happened at a natural time. It all happened very naturally.

Of course, I am shot forward in my head to my death and how many years I have left in my ‘back pocket’ as Mom put it to me one day as I sat in the sun on the phone, and waited for the school bus.

I still cry over missing my Dad. He died five years ago on December 15th. I realize now that his death really broke my heart. I was in such pain I actually felt physical pain in my heart and limbs.  I don’t know why it was so much more painful except that it was more sudden. And he had made he me feel less lonely in this world. Always.

During that time of physical exhaustion and mourning, two adolescent  boys, emerging from sort of squalid childhood hidden behind middle class conventions, sexually assaulted my baby child. We fought back, we protected her, we survived the police, social workers and general ignorance around this issue. 

So here I am, five years later, seriously aged but extremely grateful. In this seemingly short span of time my oldest daughter has grown up entirely and my middle child is turning into a man. My baby is no longer a baby. My marriage is stronger than ever. 

After more than a year looking for work I have given up. The final piece of the puzzle was handed to me when my youngest said she wanted to ‘home school’ again. After a day or two to ‘ pra sess’ I jumped in with my full mind and heart.

We are having a blast of full on love and joy every day. We do crafts and cook and clean. We walk and skate and swim. We talk and dream. Math sneaks its way in with no stress or anxiety. We learn as we go. 

I know that I allowed this time with my other children and I see that my life patterns don’t change. Having a baby at 40 meant extending my type of parenting for another 20 years.

I need to adjust, tighten the belt on the budget, and think about writing for money again!

My Mom moves through me. I feel her enjoyment with my domestic bliss. My Dad smiles on me too. They nod at each other, from their distant peaks,  like faulty Greek Gods, united in their pride.

 

Calving Season

Published October 1, 2013 by megdedwards

There was a sharp glint of pink in the universe,

northern lights crackled in the night sky.

There was a deep crack and rolling rumble,

a seismic icy shift, and a quiet shaking

that formed a crack in the mountainous block of ice, the glacier,

the glacier that is me, the mother of you,

when you moved away.

My little world, my grown woman,

you broke off and dropped into the deep cold blue waves.

I see you bobbing up, crowned with the rosy morning sun.

Sparkling like a diamond, glowing ruby,

an aura of love and warmth around you.

The whole world will change, the water will heat up,

Volcanoes will erupt underwater, hot lava freezing on contact with icy water.

The tremors will shake the world, continents will shift a few centimeters,

because you moved.

The earth’s surface is altered, the skin has rippled,

islands are rising out of the sea,

and the mountains have leaned back, sighing.

“Looking down and Away”

Published September 23, 2013 by megdedwards

bb 061“I just smiled at a potted plant, thinking it was you”.

She thought she saw me at her table when I was having a long distance phone call with my Mom.

This was when her mind was beginning to go a bit wild.  I did not know it then but it was a sign of things to come.  I could see her in my mind’s eye, smiling at the plant and I felt her affection, it did not matter that the plant was receiving it. We laughed merrily about the absurdity of her giving her glowing loving face to a potted plant.

We laughed a lot in the last years.  We had as much fun as you can have when someone is evidently dying. On my many visits to Toronto the walk from the bathroom to the couch became increasingly like a marathon with pep talks and breaks along the way.  “This is fun”, said Mom, “a sort of fun, if a bit ridiculous…”  as we collapsed on the pillows in exhaustion and giggles.

“The upside of dying is having your kids come around, a compensation of sorts” said Mom, and also, “I can be insightful, in bizarre moments when I am not making jokes or confessing sins”.  Conversation was intriguing and unpredictable, full of unforgettable images, such as this description of a discussion, “We huddle like rugby players and figure out what next to tackle”.

There were times when her spirits lagged, tired of the tricks of her mind; “I have forgotten why I am here. I don’t know where I am, and, I have forgotten who I am”.

She began to live with one foot in the other world. She saw things; she described images in her mind, as you sat before her. Other images, other times, other space. “I see you looking down and away, most likely at your child ”.  I was sitting beside her, seeing myself in her mind, looking away.

Visions were dreams, objects were symbols, actions or fleeting moments were caught and symbolized. Her mind was making a film, writing a novel, dreaming a poem. Her mind was doing what it was supposed to do, move into the ethereal, leaving behind the earthly limitations of time and space.

My Mom’s main advice to me was to write it down. “You won’t have the energy later. Write it down now”.

I am writing.  And I am thinking about mothers and daughters and what they teach each other. What advice do we act on, what lessons are more bodily memories than lessons. Did my Mom teach me how to make bread or do I just remember her hands and what they did.

What did we learn by accident, what lessons were not meant to be lessons?

My Mom decided that 25 years was long enough for her marriage and that we were all old enough to handle the separation. She would make proud jokes about the 25 year deadline. Once I had been married 25 years I entered a panic. It was as if the due date was over, the marriage was ruined, spoiled, unfit to carry on.

But also I remembered how my Mom thought that her time was up when she was 63 years old, the age her mother died.  We set dates in our minds. I had set myself an invisible deadline.  I felt a surge of emptiness and a dread of the future. I was not sure what I was supposed to do.  I was not sure how to proceed.

When I was a young girl my Mom decided to put aside her married life and become a new woman.  I see now that although her actions destroyed the family unit as it was, it also gave me a very strong sense of what it was to be a woman and look after your own self. Her best gift may have been her destruction of herself as a housewife.

From then on I never questioned looking after myself, my rights, my ability to attract a man, or my right to a good sex life that satisfied me. I felt right about asking for and getting what I wanted. And my beautiful older sisters may have had more trouble with that, being brought up by the good housewife.

I did not question my Mom’s right to live her life fully.  What I did not realize was that I thought that I was disappointing her by living with the same man all my life. I slowly became conscious of my own assumptions about the 25th year of marriage and my own buried wounds.

It was her ball busting moves, limited as they were by her hesitant feminism, and not articulate or entrenched enough to give her a real release from her insecurities, that made me the woman I am today.  I was capable of falling unwisely in love and walking away when I saw the unhealthy nature of that love. Afterwards, I had fun searching for the right man.  I knew when I had found my partner, and I knew when monogamy was worth it.  I knew how to express myself so that we could argue if necessary, and communicate without lying.

Just as my mom must have thought her days were almost over as she aged closer to 63, I had an unconscious unarticulated feeling that my marriage would be over at 25 years. My Mom lived for another 20 years longer than her mother. And she traveled every year, enjoyed her younger boy friend, and did acid in her sixties just to see what it was like.

I see now that I can have the long term marriage that she later spoke of wistfully, watching her old friends who had ‘stuck it out’ in the hard patches and then had loving relationships in their elder years. She wondered what that would have been like. She did not go so far as to regret her actions, but she was not too stubborn or proud to question the path she took.

I recognize that a long term marriage is not a lapse of courage, or an easier path, but a path of my own.  I know she never meant to set up separation and ‘independence’ as the only path.  During the painful process of discovering who she was and what she wanted, she did give me the tools for a real and stable relationship.

She would have been happy to see my husband and me out on our 29th anniversary, laughing and kissing. “Oh Meg”, she says from her location in the ether and energy, “But, of course!  You know, I have always thought Joe was a gem”!  And I smile at our other worldly conversation, and I continue to follow her advice, to write it all down.

Red Sun in Morning

Published September 5, 2013 by megdedwards

morning sun

I type in the dark, fingers missing keys, as my daughter sleeps in shadowy futon couch bed in the corner of my study; a grown woman planning her big move to the west coast of the United States. Today she turns 21.

The first fall without my Mom. She has passed away. Passe Compose.

When I first started this blog I had ideas that ran one after another, in a little line, a queue. The ideas had a persistent quality as if they had to be written down.

I enjoyed writing so much that I can’t remember much else about that time except that I stained my teeth with tea and wrote every day.

After a while I began to nag myself about writing for a more demanding audience than just myself.  I ‘should do this or that’. Write for competitions, write for publication.

That imperative shut down the creative juices pretty dramatically.

Then I read Alice Munro non stop and studied short stories and thought about writing.

In the midst of this I was writing a lot of cover letters for jobs that I needed but did not want.  A lot of writerly charm went into those letters.

I got rejected or never heard from most of those jobs. In the same period my Mom died and left a large gaping hole where I had been focusing a lot of love and care.

In the wake of her death some close relatives of mine took it upon themselves to take out their mourning on me in the form of seemingly arbitrary and hurtful criticisms of my very self.

I felt at a loss to respond to any  of it and was glad to have my own family to love and be loved by.

I lost the joy of writing and I did not post much until one day I was sweetly surprised when a  friend of mine said that she had followed my musings on my Mom’s illness unto death. That she had cried and been moved. And I thought, huh. Well, that is really an amazing compliment. It is a quiet answer, a nod and a smile.

All our voices are people waving at each other from a distance.  We like to share common experiences. We are sociable and optimistic.

I have come to some conclusions after my thinking period, For one thing, short stories are actually memoirs and memoirs are short stories.

Also, I still need a job but my persistence and stoicism in applying to dozens of jobs this spring is starting to give me purchase. I have an interview tomorrow and if that does not work I have another job lined up.

I loved my mom and she is still with me in spirit.  She is happy as a spirit. She was always a bit bigger than this earthly world.

I am still in doubt about obligatory relationships where I am not treated lovingly.  I have been forced into an unpleasant matriarchal position; an irritating authoritative figure who must be denied. I am not my Mother. I reject this whole set up and I retreat.  Carry on without me.

Mama

Published February 19, 2013 by megdedwards

SNOW!My Mom’s dying is so gradual that I feel like I am watching a tree return to the earth. She hardly moves now, and Parkinson’s is stealing her voice and her expressions, just as she feared.

But if I sit beside her and look into her eyes I know what she is thinking.  Her eyes tell me all there is to know, in a place beyond words.

Her hand might reach out to something I cannot see, and sometimes her eyes are looking into another world.  But then she focuses on me and I see all her ideas in her mind.

A few years ago she would have told me anecdotes, or advised me, she might even have indulged in some annoying gossip; those were the days when she was well and whole.

Last summer she became elliptical and poetic.  Her sense of drama was alive; she spoke of her hallucinations and made grand poetic statements.  She was half in a dream world and she became even more articulate and eloquent than usual.

I wrote down some of what she said:

“ How many years do you have left in your back pocket”?

““Do you have any unfinished dreams? How about you? Is there anywhere you want to see? When I look back at my life I notice with some dismay that I have done everything I wanted to do, like a book of coupons”

“…in bizarre moments when I am not making jokes or confessing sins”.

“What is the name of the state that exists when you are not dead, but on the way?”

“Can we reduce the speed”?

“I have a countryside, potatoes, sunshine…”

At 6 am on waking, “Shall we stroll the decks”?

“I am listening, I hear the stories behind the stores, it’s not so much who is getting pregnant by whom, but the gaps in between and what we make of them”.

Last winter and spring I took my youngest children to visit her and sleep on her feather couch, last summer my sister Liz and I took Mom to the cottage, in the fall I took my eldest daughter to spend her birthday with her Virgo Grandma, in the beginning of winter I went back to Toronto and had a few days with all my siblings together with Mom. Then I got really sick and told my Mom I had to go home and rest and I would see her after Christmas.

It was February before I could get to Toronto again, and I traveled by train with my youngest daughter. The little one is full of love and care, kissing her Grandma and laughing at her bizarre comments. Mom gathered her little soft body in her arms and said quietly, “Let me linger over this hug”.

In the last two visits my Mom has talked less about poetry and apparitions and more about me.  Words of love and acceptance, compliments about my personality, my life, my marriage, my kids, myself; it felt like she wanted to be sure her third daughter heard some positive remarks, as if she was trying to make up for a childhood interrupted by divorce and separation.

After a lifetime of being told I was plain and ordinary, I heard that I was beautiful. “We all admire you so”, she said, referring to a cabal of Jewish women her mind had created that had all apparently discussed me. “You are so beautiful”, she said, making me feel suddenly very beautiful. “You have a large amount of kindness; I have only a small amount of kindness”.

I soaked up those last words, the love and the acceptance, the admiration and compliments.  I felt a bit like a potted plant that has been sitting in old dry earth for a long time, still somehow putting out green shoots against all the odds.

Now she has stopped talking and I don’t think there is a more painful experience than our phone conversations.  I call and I can hear her clear her throat, and I can hear her caregiver say, “It is Meg on the phone, talk to her, I will hold the phone for you”.  I say” Hi Mama, how are you?” She says, with all her strength, “Hi Darling”.  She may have something she wants to tell me but she can’t get it out. She struggles, the line goes quiet.

I fill the void by telling her about my day: the washing machine broke, we had a big storm, and the kids are doing this or that. It is very quiet, I say,” Mama, are you there?” She says, ‘Huh’, so I know she is listening.

Last night, as we ‘talked’ I put the cellphone on speaker and made the bed up in new sheets, and put away the laundry. She could hear the squeaking of the misfit drawers and my rustling around; a mother who never stops moving, just like she was for so much of her life.

I told her what I was doing. I rambled; I talked about the infrequency of people who are truly honest about themselves or their motives. I could tell that idea had her thinking. I talked about the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique, a writer who surely influenced my mother and consequentially all of our lives. She sighed. I said, “I know you have something to say and I am imagining what you would say”.

When she does rally to communicate, it is sometimes surreal.  Images from the TV work their way into her reality, mixing with her memories; her wildly imaginative mind conjures up anything and everything.  There are still hallucinations that are very real.

One never knows what she is going to say; sometimes it is ordinary but unrealistic. When I told her that I was leaving she cocked her head, gave me a flinty expression, and then started to say, “Well, we know we will have to wait 15 minutes for a street car” in a slow raspy voice. Or, she might use all her strength to tell me that she is going to whip up a simple dinner for us.

This is heart breaking because she is no longer capable of whipping up a simple dinner or hopping out to catch a streetcar.  But I don’t cry, and there are no tears. I laugh, and say, “OK, Mom”. And I smile into her face, and she sees me with her reptilian eyes, green and cool, and makes a small expression of irritation and love.  Just in her eyes; the look that says,’ very amusing’, an eyebrow cocked, a small smirk that says, I am still your Mother.

Last year my heart began to compare her to my sweet pets that have aged and died. I guess it is my closest experience to loving someone who is old and dying. I remembered a frail bony cat that would move its head to catch my eye when I spoke to it. Her fur was no longer rich or thick but dusty and thin. ‘ Don’t tell me to put my cat to sleep’, I told the vet, ‘when she still creeps out to the garden to lie in a sunny patch of grass, a smile in her eyes’.

The one time I put a cat to sleep I felt sick about it. I was late in my first pregnancy and my stray orange cat had a tumor in his eye. I was planning a home birth and I had already lost my other cat to illness during the pregnancy.  I thought it would be better if I did not have a death and birth at the same time in the same apartment.

A nice vet came over and gave him a sedative. I cried over his still lush orange fur, and a tear hit his ear making it twitch. He struggled to move, he must have felt scared by what the sedative was doing to him. Then she held him and put in the needle. I felt very sick, overwhelmed by my actions. I couldn’t eat without the food rising up in my throat.

I don’t know if there is a good time to put someone asleep but I don’t want to do that again with another animal. My first pet beloved cat died lying on my chest. After sighing his body went limp and his body released the last bit of urine, a warm spot on my sweater. He was like my first child; we mourned him like a child.

Since then I have had other sweet cats die of illness and old age and every experience is different. Everyone has their own path. There may be times when sedation would be good.  But doctors tell you that they only sedate the patient to relieve the pain of the loved ones who are watching. The last gasps are not necessarily calm breaths.

I left my Dad before he died.  It seemed like there were enough people around to hold hands, and my Dad and I had always had such a reserved love.  I was also holding out hope he would recover.

My sister said that it did get harder, he did fight death. And then they sedated him so that he could slowly stop breathing.

There are times when I don’t like to be stoned, and I am pretty sure my death is going to be one of those times.  I want to control the experience myself.  I don’t want to feel dizzy and nauseated on top of whatever else I am feeling.

My husband has told me that he wants to kill himself before it gets too late. I have actually heard this a few too many times, so the last time he told me about his desire to end his own life in a timely fashion I told him I will take over the shooting if he becomes too much of a pain. That seemed to amuse him.

As we gently care for our once strong parents, death is always on our minds. We are grateful to have our health and our lives, but it is without the lightheartedness of youth.

We wonder what sort of elderly people we will be, who will look after whom?  Will we be good tempered and brave?  My Mom is giving us her very best. In fact on my last visit she managed a full sentence, sitting up after dinner.  She slowly pronounced, “I am losing my faculties” she said, “but I am trying very hard to be brave”.

I would be proud to go into death as good temperedly as my Mom, “Like a character out of Dickens’” she joked last time after a big cough.  She is moving off very slowly, “Shall we stroll the decks?”  “Can we reduce the speed”?   She is getting every last drop of milk from the saucer.

The spirit in her eye is still flickering, love travels from one eye to another.  I am sending love, I am feeling love and I recognize love.

My last visit with Mom may not be my last visit.  My fingers are ready to fly over the keyboard, book a ticket, pack my old worn bag, get back on that little plane and fly back to her side.


 

 

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