A Sad Memorial Day

“Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us.”
― Brian Jacques, Taggerung
The short-term rehabilitation/nursing home unit at the hospital is a sad place.  My mother is not adjusting well to being there and is angry and frightened.  She dislikes the community dining room where she is forced to be with the other patients, many of whom have had debilitating strokes, are suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, or have incurable, chronic diseases.  She cannot find compassion for them.  They have nothing to do with her, she claims, as she continues each day to feel sorry for herself in spite of anything I say to her.

In the dining room today there was a pianist playing patriotic songs.  The aides had brought in several women who lay in their recliners unmoving and staring at something no one else could see.  One woman sitting near me seemed to be in another place in her mind as she folded and refolded the terry cloth bib she had worn an hour before during lunch.  A man called Danny was wheeled into the room in his chair.  He seemed to be paralyzed from the waist down, but I had not heard him speak at any point during the previous week.  Two other women were lying bent into a seemingly uncomfortable position in their chairs half asleep.  Only a few women appeared to be able to speak or even appreciate the music being played.  My mother sat in absolute silence beside me, showing no response of either appreciation for the music or a desire to escape from the room.  At that moment I felt like I did not know the woman sitting next to me, the mother I loved, the mother I had cared for since the death of my father and my sister, the mother who this morning swore at me for not visiting sooner, for not taking her to see the Memorial Day parade with my granddaughters whom I see now only once or twice a year because I cannot leave my mother alone.  The accusations flew and the pain began.  I had spent most of every day for the last few months with my mother, either at her apartment, at my home, or in the hospital, and it was just not enough for her.

Where she will go next I do not know.  She may go home with 24-hour care that will quickly deplete all her savings.  She may go into a nursing home or dementia unit which will do the same thing.  No matter what, her time with me is limited.  I thought I had experienced all there was of sadness.  I was wrong.  When I bend to kiss her forehead and tell her I will see her tomorrow, I know as soon as I am gone, she will cry and be afraid and I will go home with an emptiness inside that will surely never leave me now.

One thought on “A Sad Memorial Day

  1. I went through that with my father recently before he passed away so I know exactly how you’re feeling. It’s really tough and nothing can be done except what you are doing – the visits and care you give her. Do what you can do and don’t worry about the rest.

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