Saturday, December 03, 2005

Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms

Tonight at 5 pm as I drove to visit Mom, I saw the new crescent moon in the sunset sky near Venus--a lovely sight, similar to a few days ago at 5 am when I saw the crescent waning moon halfway between Jupiter and Spica.
I found Mom in the dining room shortly after 5 pm and saw that she was feeling sorry for herself because I had come so late--not at 2 pm or 4 pm.
As the dinner hour dragged on, I commented to Bob, sitting next to Mom, "There's such a pretty sky tonight. We should go out on the patio and see the crescent moon, just a skinny slice, next to Venus." He enjoys going out on the patio sometimes, but I knew Mom never wanted to go out there.
"It's too cold out there," Mom commented, rejecting the idea as if I had proposed it to her.
She ate her soup, mixed fruit, and cottage cheese but refused the cheese blintz. When I tried to get her to eat it, she emphatically refused.
Pushing her wheelchair back to her room, I was careless and bumped the back of an armchair, smacking her arm against the chair.
She screeched in pain, and an Ocean View caregiver came running.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mom" I began apologizing. "I wasn't looking where I was going."
Back in the room, Racquel, her private caregiver arrived, and I insisted that Mom do her daily exercise of walking fifteen feet to the bathroom and back.
She did fine with it but complained noisily as we pulled her up to walking position again after a rest: "In my own house, I get tortured."
I realized that her emotional energy had dropped because of the bumped arm, added to the fact that 8 am is a better time to do this daily walk. (Evening is more convenient for me.)
Within minutes Mom was at meltdown, the way my teenagers get when they are too tired.
"I don't want a shower--I already had one," she claimed, whimpering. But Racquel and I insisted that she had to have a shower and started undressing her.
"In my own house--I get tortured again," she said, now crying.
"It's just a shower--the warm water will feel good," I urged, but her desolation touched me.
"I just want to go to your house," she said.
"You're coming to my house tomorrow," I countered. "We'll have raisin toast. Tomorrow is Sunday, and we're going to church."
She continued crying. I told her goodnight and left her in the shower chair being soaped by her caregiver.
Driving out of the parking garage, I felt so guilty.
There she is, alone with caregivers for 23 hours, and the one hour I am there, I bump her arm, make her try to walk at the end of the day, and overrule her wish to skip the evening shower. Then I leave her with a caregiver.
Venus caught my eye, and I wondered if the moon had set beneath the ocean yet. I drove to the palisades above the beach and parked.
The crescent moon, now a brilliant orange, was still visible in the dark sky just above the black ocean. I watched it sink slowly into the ocean, its orange tip dipping into the black, then shrinking to a comet pointed into the ocean, then vanishing.
"The old moon in the new moon's arms," they call this sight.
My old mother in my arms, both of us sinking into the darkness.


phillipsfive said...

I stumbled onto your site and greatly enjoyed reading it. My mother suffers from "old age" and over the past 2 years has lost much of her memory and inhibitions. While my mom has not lost much of her physical capabilities I do recognized many of the same situations you describe. The other day while driving with my brother she said "I am glad you are a good driver because if we had a wreck you would be a hamburger and I would be french fries." Thanks for sharing your experience.

Anne Eggebroten said...

Thank you, phillipsfive! Yours is the first real comment my blog has had, outside of family and friends.
I enjoyed that great quote from your mother--wonderful example of a common expression "You'd be mincemeat/toast" ratcheted up by dementia.
Anne Eggebroten