My 92 year old mother, to whom I have made reference on occasion in this space, passed away on September 29, peacefully under hospice care. We visited with her only moments before she died, returning from our hurricane evacuation site. While away, I wrote these reflections, and with your indulgence I submit them as this week’s column. It is my hope that these musings touch something within, as you reach for a fuller, more joyful life.
Dr. John Monaco
MA - near the end
She sits in her chair, slumped over, a rag doll version of her previous self
teetering between the now and the hereafter, touching a toe over the edge, a child testing the frigid water of a lake in spring
But then pulling back, not yet ready to plunge, lost again in her thoughts
Is she at the holiday table with her once large family, now all gone- yes, she is the sole survivor
Or running through the fields encircling her childhood farmhouse, playing tag or hide and seek with her younger brother - after school, putting off afternoon chores and evening milking, the smells of home cooking wafting through the screen door of the kitchen, which will soon slam with joy as they rush inside at their mother’s command to clean up for the hearty meal.
Or is it decades later, she has met her husband, on that blind date in 1952, only months after starting her first teaching job, and they have had two sons now, both in school, one a better student, the other a star athlete and socialite - together they make her proud while bringing her worry every day. It’s getting dark, when will they be home? Will they be safe with this partner?
Or is she standing before her class of 7 year olds, as they breathlessly await her instructions for the day, pigtail little girls running up to grab her skirted legs, asking for help with reading, runny noses or teasing boys. She can’t stop smiling, she never could. She still smiles, as her last vestigial emotions remain.
She will cross over at some point, soon undoubtedly, and hopefully peacefully.
Even days from the end, not always a “glass half full” being - she smiles and says “EXCELLENT” when asked how she is. Dementia or optimism? We will never know. Or will we?