For the Love of Mother

My mother – now committed to a long-term facility because of deepening dementia – lies also in a bed that psychologically seems to be one of her own making. As a prisoner of the past, she suffers from regrets and guilt… inside an imaginary jail cell for which only a loving and forgiving God would have the key. I too was held captive to that past by some sort of instant Karma.

Photo: Michael Anthony

Years before and after my parent’s divorce and my dad’s second marriage, after his death and even now at my mother’s bedside, your parent’s views … even if not right … were never to be doubted.

For example, my mother used to say of a quiet, unassuming uncle of mine, that he had a temper if he wanted to use it – as if it were a badge of honour. Yet, experience has taught me that I should wait to consider all the facts, with openness and understanding.

Sorry mom, but I never needed more grief in my life.

Her intent was good: to make sure I stood up for what I believed … I just had problems with the method. And, disagreeing with “dear mother” could be grief enough – herself being a person of uneven temperament.

So now, as I watch her thrash away, fighting her affliction and screaming at her caregivers, it’s like seeing a caged tigress heading towards extinction. I know how she feels: people asking her to give up … everything. Yet, who am I to judge?

I guess some things never change … like the word “love” … which the dictionary describes as a “term of endearment”. And who can’t – even in a small way – remember a mother’s love?

Yet I know as I write these words, there are those who still find it hard to break through their childhood experiences and remember anything like “love”.

“Mother you had me / but I never had you” – Mother by John Lennon

I know it’s not easy to forgive and forget. So, I’ve followed the advice to “forgive and don’t forget”… learn, but don’t be imprisoned by it, either. Otherwise you view life with an empty heart, seeing only the bad and none of the good.

 The tact I’ve taken is that it really doesn’t matter. Our lives are too short to be wasted. ‘Let the dead bury their own dead.’ The mistakes of the past have no place in the present and our future will be made from today’s moments. So, I don’t care; I’m going to love her anyway.

For I know I owe my existence to all those who stood by me in my hours of need. With them I can stand and say, “Hey mom, I love you; I’m with you, and will keep you safe, until the very end.”

I see her fragile state… her fears, her insecurities, her increasing sense of being lost, even her sense of personal peace … as resting in my hands. Seeing her cry, her bad dreams … before the demons come again.

All of the tears people cry/ Do they fall on deaf ears? Do you just turn a blind eye?                                – Blind Eye by Ron Sexsmith

She’s the prisoner. I’m the jailer. Will I throw away the key? I cannot.

Fred Parry         Oct 2013

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