“It’s nice out here.” Over and over she would return to that simple phrase. Perhaps it was a place of comfort in her mind. A place far removed from the confusing world of trying to sort out facts. We went to see Ceil and Marie the other day, aka Aunt Ceil and Mom. Sitting outside, it was our first in-person visit that we had in quite a stretch. Ceil grumbled as she came down the walkway to sit. Grumble, grumble, grumble, I don’t know what in the hell we are doing this for? She softened immediately upon finally recognizing who was there to visit her.
Mom on the other hand was a bit more distant. Very pleasant, but also somewhat detached to any real conversation. We would toss in a topic of familiarity to try and help. Remember your days at the courthouse? Working at Newman’s clothing store? It seemed she could only hang on for about thirty seconds, being only mildly interested at best. I even brought a keyboard and asked if she wanted me to play the piano and sing some songs. No, I don’t think so. ….”It’s nice out here.”
I think she lives inside snapshots these days and can no longer view the full movies of her memory. There’s just too many images and too much information to try and sort through. She just stops, then looks out over the lawn…”It’s nice out here.” Meanwhile 95 year old Ceil was providing ongoing commentary about the chronological age breakdown of the four siblings. Tommy was the oldest, me, Marie, and Tess was the baby. Each time Ceil mentioned this well known fact (and it was 10-15 times) Marie would nod her head in agreement. Then the two of them would make the same, almost choreographed hand motions indicating where they fell in order. Mom would then turn, smile for the camera...”It’s nice out here.”
I wonder if “out here” is just easier. It’s less crowded. The wind and the trees require nothing. There’s no questions to answer. No details to keep aligned. None of us knows how deep the well of someone else’s memory is. Or how it might change over time. Nearly ninety one years is a lengthy list of things to remember. And don’t we all long for those moments when not a soul is asking for anything from us. Maybe Mom’s memory loss has given her such a place. A front porch in her mind where she can sit in the gentle breeze and rock...”It’s nice out here.” Yes it is Mom. I’m glad you found it.
It’s Nice Out Here - © copyright Jeff Raught May 2021