Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole the presidency in Iran. The president invited a professor and a cop to share a beer. There’s a warming trend. A bridge collapsed in China. Ricky Henderson will be inducted in some hall of fame. Mom is dying. In hours or maybe days, Mom will die.
And I’ll live. The warming trend will continue. Or it will cool. My husband asked me how Dad is doing. He asked how I am doing. I don’t know. How does one do while watching the one person on the planet who really knows everything prepare to leave forever? I don’t know how I’m doing. How should I be doing? I’ve never known less than I do right now.
Yesterday we talked about feeding tubes and breathing tubes. Mom had a stroke we think. Her right side does nothing, her left hand and leg still move. When she tries to talk it’s the left side of her mouth that moves. But the sounds are gutteral, animal like. Her tongue is the problem. Limbs are irrelevant after all these years suffering the losses gifted by alzheimer’s. But tongues we need. Tongues allow us to swallow. Mom can’t swallow. And when people can’t swallow they die. People need food. And water. So we could put in a feeding tube and she would live. Making funny gutteral noises when she wants us to know something. Sitting with pillows all around her, because she can’t really sit but has to be propped, with her mouth open staring vacantly at the wall of pictures that have accumulated over the last several years.
My children have grown up on that wall. They don’t remember when Grandma was still Grandma. When the brilliant woman who raised me could take care of them…when she talked to them and loved them and taught them. They know and love the woman that she is now. The Grandma who says words that aren’t real and doesn’t know who they are but holds their hands anyway and looks into their faces with all of the love she can’t express. Until yesterday, when her face went blank.
No, I don’t think she’d want a feeding tube. Or a breathing tube. I think she’d want to go with whatever grace she’s allowed. When she’s ready. If we wait for me to be ready, really ready, that day won’t come.