Saturday, June 05, 2010

Not yet an orphan

What a day I have had. It is too busy at the moment by half. Once again I resist the basics, like hanging out washing that has sat in the washing machine overnight. I rationalise it is because of the rain. I have also failed to ring my mother. Every time I try she does not answer. I worried at first until I spoke to my older sister who tells me that in the evenings my mother takes out her hearing aide and turns up the television. She cannot hear a thing. So I must keep trying and maybe during the daytime. My mother does not watch television in the daytime. She is far too disciplined for that.

And busy she tells me, what with activities in the home, trips to doctors, her bible reading group and reading generally, she has no time for television by day but she likes to read in the evenings, once she turns off her TV.


My mother, I think to myself, is the sort of woman who will die in her sleep. Not yet I imagine, but one day soon enough. She will die in her sleep because it is the least painful way to go.

Imagine it. Imagine that last night alive. You follow your usual routine. For my mother the news on television, a few programs till around ten o’clock when her eyes start to feel heavy and then a visit to the toilet and the long struggle into her nightclothes. Finally she will put her dentures into a glass beside her bed and pull out her favourite book. She has been reading Ann Tyler of late.

My mother has always been a gluttonous reader. She will read for sometime, a fresh burst of energy with all the effort getting into bed has taken and in time her eyelids will droop again and she will make the supreme effort of switching off the light before falling into sleep.

She will mutter a prayer under her breath before she slips into unconsciousness, before her unconsciousness slips into oblivion and sleep becomes death.
Then my mother will have made her exit from this world in the same way she made her entrance, oblivious to the hardship and suffering around her, which is not to say she has not suffered. My mother knows intense pain but her way of dealing with her pain is one of looking on the bright side.

And now it occurs to me. This might account for my resistance to those who seek always to create lovely images in life, my hostility to those who resent my efforts to present different and less attractive facets of life, those who might prefer to die in their sleep oblivious to the pain of moving on, from those who rejoice in the struggle. Those who claw at the last vestiges of their lives, those who insist, I’m not ready to go yet. I want to stay.

My mother imagines these days she will live until she is 96 years old. It used to be that she imagined she would die at 86, the age of her father when he died, but she moved past that age. Now she has a little over five years to go on her reckoning.

What this means for me? For me at the age of 57 I am still not orphaned. None of us, my siblings are orphaned. My oldest brother in his mid sixties still has an intact mother. It drags back development. We must wait until we are next in line and by the time we get there assuming my mother’s death precedes that of her children, we will be so close to the possibility of our own deaths age wise, we already are that way, that we will have little time to ponder on the subtleties.
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