where I am

“Where am I? When can I go home?
For more than an hour this morning, that was all she could say. And all I could do was reassure her that she IS home, that we all live together and this is our home now. “Look how pretty it is outside. There’s the red bird you like so much. Look, he’s here with his wife.” As she sits at the kitchen table and looks out the window at the three bird feeders, she is always delighted by the cardinal and his painted lady.
Everything hurts, she says. Her head, her legs, her neck, her shoulders, her back, her feet. I give her the pill she takes for nerve pain and a Tylenol as well.
She sits next to me on the couch, cries, mutters “I’m so afraid.” When I ask her why she’s afraid she says, “I don’t know.”
“Where are you going?” she keeps asking at least once an hour every day. Even if I’m planning to go somewhere — to the dentist or grocery shopping or to pick up a prescription — I tell her that I’m not going anywhere.
In her mind I’m often a friend that she had when, before the Depression hit, her mother took her and her four siblings to live on the family farm in Poland. Those are the times she remembers most, now. She keeps checking to see if the painting of the thatched-roof cottage in which they lived is still hanging on the wall. “That’s my grandfather’s house,” she says. I ask her if she remembers who did the painting. She doesn’t.
She wants to walk, gets tired of just sitting. But she’s not very steady on her feet, so I put on some “easy listening” music and put my arms around her and she follows as I lead small steps in time with the music. She holds me tight, and I can feel her relax into me. I lead her into her bedroom, help her climb into bed to take a nap.
My sibling’s way of keeping her company is to sit her down in front of the television while he taps on his laptop. She doesn’t like to watch television. She doesn’t get the plots or the jokes or the point.
“I want someone to talk to,” she says. “Talk to me, Ma, I say.” Tell me about when you were a little girl in Tuszyma.”

2 thoughts on “where I am

  1. when the time comes that i have to care for my parents i hope that i deal with them with the same loving graciousness as you. i also hope i receive that same loving graciousness when it’s time for my daughter to care for me. you are an inspiration, and every word you write about this journey you are on moves me deeply.

  2. Thanks, r@d@r, but don’t let me give you the impression that it’s like that all of the time. I periodically get fed up and lose my cool. I grind my teeth and don’t sleep well at night. This is not a fun thing to do, and, while I do my best to make the best of it, I don’t always succeed.

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