It's been a whole year since the Random Journal Days began. I used to cock my head like a confused puppy when adults said time flew, because I couldn't figure out how time went any faster than it actually went. I mean, a minute's a minute, right? But now that I'm older I get it. I get the sense that though the shortest increments still move at the proper rate, in our rear-view mirror, the land behind us falls away fast and faster. So this last year has sped by, and it startled me to discover that it's been an entire year of people sharing from their journals. However, you can discover the truth for yourself HERE.
My journals have recently moved to their new home on a shelf high in our bedroom--so high, in fact, that I cannot reach them without a stool. However, this is Beve's Spring Break, so I had him reach up and grab one. His 14" on me has its advantages. And no, that wasn't a typo. He really is 14" taller than me.
ANYWAY. He pulled out the journal labeled Summer 2009, and I opened it to a page with two entries, both of which have much to recommend them, both of which I've written about before in this blog. The first was about the wheat harvest in the Palouse, and a quick perusal of my blog entries reveal a plethora of posts related to that. The second is about visiting my mother in the nursing home. Though I've also written about her plenty of times as well, this was a momentous day. So...
For the first time ever, Mom didn't know me today. A very odd sensation to sit with her because there's more absence than presence now. Even though we [my sister, RE and I] spoke directly to her, she didn't seem to hear or understand. As I told LD [our middle sister] the other day, I can't imagine how many more turns there will be on this sad, windy road. We got there right at lunch time and found Mom with her head bowed, not paying the slightest attention to her plate full of food. Maybe that's even more odd than not recognizing me, that she is no longer interested in food--Mom, who not only never missed a meal, but ate by the clock, no matter what. If the clock says 6 PM she had to eat, no matter when she'd eaten before. And every event, good or bad, wonderful or painful, made her reach for chocolate, bread or potatoes. But now her interest in food, her very taste for it, perhaps, has been forgotten. Along with everything else.
And she cries SO easily (well, she always has) and wants to go 'upstairs.' That's the one thing we could make out today. This insistent plea to go upstairs. It's like everything is in reverse. She's almost a newborn baby now, unable to do anything but cry, pee and cry some more. She not only has lost the ability to speak except for strange, random sounds, but also the ability to hear. Her bed has to be changed daily, because she wets it and everything in her room is foreign to her. And now, even her children whom she once loved more than life, are strangers. So she cries and wants to go upstairs.
So I want her to go upstairs, too. I want her freed from the prison that is her body and the darker vault that is her brain. Years ago, when she was first forgetful, I couldn't begin to imagine what this would be like. It almost seemed like she was making it up--or that we were. And sometimes I thought we were exaggerating the problem when we tried to describe her memory issues to others...and I know positively that there were some who thought we were making it up as well. Would that we had been. Would that it had all been nothing. Anything but this cruel pass. But this can't be made up. These vacant eyes, random sounds, total emptiness of spirit where a person once lived, it can't be made up.
So when I think of this being the first day my mother didn't know me--in my whole life--that isn't the worst of it. The worst of it is that worse things still lie ahead for her. Before she gets to go 'upstairs,' and be free.