Monday, September 16, 2013

Diligo Fratrem

I love my brother.

The phone rang this afternoon just as I settled down for the last third of Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel. The pace was quickening, the bad guys were dropping like flies, and the phone was ringing.  I was all full of grrr and leave me alone until caller id told me that Brother was there.

I knew before I said "Hello!" that he and his girls were driving from their new home at the end of the Red Line to their synagogue much closer to town. Talking to me on their way to Kol Nidre was a good use of time.  It was good for my soul, as well.

There aren't a lot of people who want to hear me talk about my mother.  I write about it here because I know that you can click away if you find me annoying or self-indulgent or too morose for where you want to be right now. There's no harm and no foul; I don't know and you don't have to worry about offending me. I get it off my chest, and I feel better. Healing through blogging; it's the cheapest therapy I know.

Brother listens. He understands. He laughs in the right places and offers to visit at the right times and is generally there when he's needed. I'm not sure that he's needed right now.  I don't know what is needed.

He told me that they'd called G'ma last week and the conversation was marked by a certain amount of peevishness on her part. She lost track of her sentences.... and she knew it.  Her usually excellent skills at confabulation deserted her.... and she knew it. He was touched by the fact that she cared.  In the past, her default has been that anger won't help her to remember, so why should she waste time being peeved? She's funny and able to laugh at herself... at least she has been up until now.

Anesthesia is no friend to the demented.  After every procedure, after every sedation, there is less of my mother than there was before.  I don't understand the biology, and neither does anyone else.  Google anesthesia dementia and the first page brings you ten articles, alternately claiming that anesthesia does and does not increase the risk of dementia.

I don't care about the research. Just like when the pediatrician denied the correlation between drooling and sniffling and teething, I know what I'm seeing.  My mother was finishing her own paragraphs before she broke her leg. Since she's been home, she's losing the ends of her sentences.  I'm just sayin'......

So Brother listened as I got a little teary, telling him that I go to visit her in the mornings now, because my readers told me to focus on the love in the moment.  She's less tired, more herself before lunch; I'm a happier person seeing her that way.  I'm long past the guilt of visiting on my own schedule; now I try to keep a smile on my face for as long as I can before I go back to my car to sigh.. to breathe... to weep.

I miss my mother.

I read him a letter from G'ma's oldest friend. It speaks of a woman quite different from she who parented us. I want to be able to ask about that person, the one Gladys knew, the brave and resourceful one who is hiding someplace inside the body currently masquerading as my remaining parental unit.

Brother understands. He accepted my Yom Kippur inspired apology for any wrongs I'd done him in 5773, and he returned the favor.  He'll eat pre-fast pasta so he can nap through the sermon, and he'll be thinking of me as I'll be thinking of him. We're in this together, he and I.

At this moment, that's the best news I've had all day.


  1. I think it's important that you are able to lean on your brother and sister for support with your mother. They need to be there for you to even cry on their shoulders. Sounds like your brother is doing the best he can. It's hard to see our parents wither away. I remember my grandmother being a shell of the person she once was. It really upset me to see her slip into dementia and almost being child-like. She was dying of cancer at the same time--so she was battling two illnesses. :(

    Lean on everyone you can. There is only so much a person can handle and if that means others need to be there for you--emotionally or physically, don't feel like you cannot lean on them.

    Sending lots of love and hugs!

    Megan xxx

  2. Dealing with aging parents is tough and even though my mother didn't become senile, she did change. I wonder if it will happen to me as I think we all do when we consider aging parents. Is that what we will be like or will it be the other way? We never really know and not sure we have all the options. My husband's mom varied for her senility based on her kidney function. When it was higher, she could think more clearly but when it was lower, she was more confused. It's hard to see them decline and good you can share it with others and have a brother who cares.

  3. Both of my parents are long gone. My mother was with it until her final month, after suffering a major stroke, when she could no longer communicate. Your stories of visits to your mother have helped me to understand what others with aging and frail parents are handling. It also makes me think more about my own aging and what will happen, how much I will change. At 61 I already see a different woman than I was at 41. What will I be like, should I live, at 81? I have been writing journals now for 16 years and so I hope my daughter and grandchildren can find ME in those pages and not just the ME they see in elderhood.


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