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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Memory of Mom

I don’t know when Mom will die. Will it be tonight, tomorrow, a week from now? I have hold of her thin, papery hand, rubbing the top of it to chase away the chill. The room she is in has floor to ceiling windows and it is a beautiful autumn day. Crisp air, indigo sky, wispy, slow moving clouds. The windows look out on to trees covered with orange, yellow, and red leaves shivering from the light breeze. The sun is pouring through the windows bringing warmth and peace with every ray of sunlight. The air outside is fresh and clean, cool. When I take a breath, it’s like taking a sip of cold water. The air in here has that industrial food smell of all “old folks” homes. It smells of medicine and the slightly dusty smell of decay. This is hospice and the soft voices and sad faces say all there is to say. Uneaten food stacked on trays outside of rooms. Jell-O is on the menu, that shaky, gelatinous shit that for whatever reason ends up on every plate of every convalescing or dying persons’ meal. Is that a staple outside of Utah? I wonder. Everyone here will visit only a few times. Everyone in a bed will die soon. I’m here with my husband and my sons. Her grandsons.

Mom wakes up. She seems lucid and as usual ready to go, go, go! With a barely audible voice, she says, “Guys? Guys? Grab that chair with the wheels on it and let’s get the hell out of here.” We all chuckled softly knowing that Mom would rather be anywhere but here. She is fighting death tooth and nail. She has always been a fighter. “Let’s go to Disneyland.” Smiling and still rubbing her hand, I answer her, “Mom, we can’t go to Disneyland, the lines are too long. You don’t have the strength right now to wait in line.”  “The boys can hold me up while we wait. If that’s no good, let’s go on a cruise.”

She drifts to sleep, or something that appears to be sleep. Who knows what happens on our way to death? Looking down at her now, it’s hard not to think of all the good and bad times we’ve shared. The angry words and fights. Do all mothers and daughters have battles? Maybe not. I have known families like that, but mine has never been one to shy away from an argument. Is everything settled? Did we say everything we want to say to each other? Do we forgive each other? No matter. The time to rectify has passed. I realize she won’t be here much longer, and I remember the moment when I decided that I wouldn’t think of Mom as “mom” anymore. I decided to consider her my friend. That shift lowered my expectations somehow, and our relationship improved. Just because someone is a mom doesn’t mean that they know how to nurture, or even that they have the capacity to do so. I know she loved my siblings and me. She provided for us. She adored babies. Teenagers and adults seemed the challenge for her. It is as if she had no memory of what it was like to be young, needing a soft place to land. A comforting, secure space to count on.

These thoughts are running through my mind as I look at her. She looks so peaceful. The sun is shining down on her, the warmth spreading over her blanket, keeping her toasty and safe. She looks so beautiful. Thin as a reed, pale, almost translucent, but beautiful. As always.




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