FunnelsMarch 23, 2017
As the days and years pass, so too does Mom’s memory. It swirls around like a whimsical vortex, filled with an eighty-six year old collection of Marie stuff. I suppose that is not surprising nor even unexpected if you know my mother. Something from 1973 might be clearer in her mind than a tale from seven days ago. Whether spoken aloud or a wandered thought, she has had much more time to spend with one than the other. Last week? Well, that just happened. It’s new, like shellac that has not yet had a chance to cure and dry. I chose shellac over paint, because I can hear Mom chuckle saying the word shellac.
I saw her last month at Bethany Village and we had our usual meandering conversation about things old….things new. It was over hill and dale in the truest sense. Sometimes when you travel a path repeatedly, you notice something new. But I suspect for Mom she finds comfort in a well worn familiar landscape that includes the same questions and sometimes even the same answers.
This ongoing change in Mom’s mind reminds me of a……. perforated funnel. One with extra holes in that upper chamber. It is apparent that not every bit of information makes it into the bottom channel. You know, the one that feeds the telling of her stories. Maybe that’s for the best. Not everything we recall is pleasant. Maybe she’s lucky. Besides, we all know what happens when you overfill a funnel. There’s a bit of a mess and somebody says “Aw shit, you filled it too fast!”
I wish I could plug all those little holes for Mom, but I cannot. What I can do is listen to her about the moments which funnel through. Help steady her hand as she pours, and be there when the conversation flow is uneven.
She was getting her hair done when it was time to say good-bye. I gave her hugs and another “I love you.” As I turned to walk down the hall I overheard her say: “Who was that?”
With those three words, I knew that we had crossed over into new territory. But it’s okay. It really is. I do not have an expectation for her to recognize me in the same way every time. If increasingly, she does not remember me as her son, my plan is to go see her and be Marie’s friend,Jeff. I’d loved to hear her tell about the time she drove down Main Street in Honesdale, with a “false face” strapped to the left side of her head. Puzzled onlookers wondering why this woman was not watching where she was going.And if by chance, she does not remember the story, then I get to share it with her. Either way there’s nothing stopping us from having a laugh or two.One thing is for certain. She won’t stop being Mom anymore than I will stop being her son. No matter what name she calls me. Mother and son or just two friends. A couple of funnels sitting around talking.
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