Together, We Light the Way

Visiting Mom

This is something I wrote several years ago. I thought it was worth revisiting.

I spent time with my mom today. She is in an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s. She looked sad even in her sleep; sad and anxious, like she was having a bad dream. When she woke up it took her a while to focus on me and longer still to register that I was visiting her. She seemed to be reaching her hand out to me and trying to communicate with her eyes. She doesn’t seem to be able to make sounds at me, or maybe she just forgets to try. She doesn’t remember who I am at all anymore.

I talked to her anyway, telling her that I love her and miss being with her. I told her that I wish we could talk again. But as I said it, I realized I didn’t want to talk to her; I wanted her to talk to me. I wished I could have one more chance to listen to her. I would listen without judging anything she said. I would like one more chance to listen for the wisdom in her words. I spent way too much time before this happened to her thinking that I knew something. I missed a lot of what she could have told me. I felt sad for the lost opportunity.

If I had one more chance to listen to her I would give her my undivided attention. I wouldn’t be thinking of the next stop on my list or something I heard on the news. I wouldn’t be listening for the errors in what she said, and I wouldn’t be thinking that she was behind the times, that the world had moved ahead and what she had to say was out of date. If I had one more chance I would not be so foolish. I would just sit and listen as if she were the wise old woman, and the words falling from her lips were treasures she was freely giving. How lucky I would be.

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