I am spending two weeks with my mother in Tennessee. She is 96. She has senile dementia. It is not the Alzheimer’s type but that associated with chronic hearing loss, near blindness and the aging brain. She is at the point that I have lost 90% of her. “Her” being the full mom that I once knew.
Even the 10% is hard to draw out. It takes patience. It takes screaming into her maxed-out hearing aids. It requires repetition. Then a rustic conversation develops, but quickly fades again into the haze of an endless soundtrack loop of, “Are you healthy? I’m healthy. Do you have children? I prayed for children and God gave me some. How many did I have? Are you hungry? Do you have children? Are you healthy?” The loop plays continuously throughout her waking hours.
The missing will not just come after the end of all of this. The missing has started for all who know and love her. It started a long time ago. We miss a rational conversation. We miss the energetic woman who worked non-stop to cook and serve her visitors. We miss her hearing our words. There is so much to tell, but would fall on deaf ears, and even if heard, would find an incomprehensible mind.
Time is a wave form. Its final sum is nil. It brings great things. It takes the great things away. It brings the birth of a child. He takes away those we love, one by one. It brings to us our great loves. It breaks our hearts when our loves leave. It then mends the broken hearts. However, it brings the next heartbreak. Time brings our long-lost family and friends to our doors with hugs . . . but too quickly, time ushers in the day of their departure with tears once more. Time has no consciousness no morality. It is inert. It gives and takes again without intent.
I think it was a sister-in-law who said that life is a long process of letting go. We don’t realize this until we are thirty. Maybe in the years before, the wave of time has more bringing. But then the tide begins to turn and the leavings becomes greater. It is letting go. Then letting go again . . . and again once more. It is a miracle that any of us survive all of this.