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essay by Andrea: when the window opens

by Andrea
December 6, 2012

Caring for my mother has brought unexpected lessons and insights into my life. Some of the most valuable and beautiful discoveries came through the necessity of slowing down. In that slowing down, it's like a window opened up into another world. Before that window opened, there were all sorts of anxieties and fears to do with my mother's aging and how to best care for her. But after the window opened, something changed. The anxieties and fears did not go away, but they moved far into the background. 

How do we slow down when there's so...

by Judy 
December 3, 2012 

I have always been touched by the ending of life. For some reason the experience and fact of birth has never pulled me in a big way. I have no idea why but it hasn’t.  Instead since I was little, I’ve been very aware of death, thought about it - my own and others - and also as I got older, very aware of the poignancy of a life lived that is coming to its end. This acute awareness of death perhaps has something to do with the fact of being a postwar baby, Jewish and very conscious from a young age of the...

by Judy
November 26, 2012 

And now since the stroke, that’s a whole other jump from who she had been. Now sometimes my mother will moan and cry with no thought of how it appears; caught in her emotions and nothing else matters. I notice I am getting more and more perspective on the whole phenomena; it’s perhaps partly to do with my own survival, but it’s something else as well.

I have more understanding of how strokes effect the emotions and that it does seem to be out of her control or my control. Today...

by Judy
November 18, 2012 


At the age of ninety-five my mother relaxed.

She let her hair that had always been colored

go white.

No longer relentlessly restless

She was content to lie in bed most of the day - doing absolutely nothing.

The "put on" smiles and faces for the public dropped.

"Relax," she said to me, "Relax."

Still beautiful, but now so quiet-

soft - still funny.

This mother who had always been larger than life - taking up so much space

shrunk...now small - sensitive - loud...

the inside of things

by Andrea
November 12, 2012

Recently I was speaking with a few close friends, and someone asked the questions: "What it is in life that is attracting us right now? What are we drawn to?".

My first response to these questions was "the inside of things". Strange I know. The inside of things. What does that even mean? As I reflected on this over the past few days, it grew in meaning and significance, and I realize that the inside of things draws and attracts me more than anything else. And as far as I remember, this has always been true.

When I was a kid, I...

by Judy
November 7, 2012 

Who are we? How is it that our personality can change so radically? Even before the stroke, my mother had gotten so much quieter…actually a better listener than she had ever been and not trying anymore to be the center of attention. That had dropped away.  It all changed quite dramatically three years ago when my mother was 93 after being hospitalized for low salt and more importantly for a restricted aortic valve. From that time in the hospital, she went from still living on her own in the condominium she had lived in for over thirty five...

Andrea and her mother, in rehab

by Andrea
October 9, 2012

Everything is so uncertain right now. In this uncertainty I am flooded with forces from every direction. I don't think there is a moment in the day where my mother is not on my mind, where questions pour forth. How is she right now? What is best? What should we do? Who is visiting? What can I do? What is right? This goes on all day, and even into my sleep - which I'm not getting much of these days.

Two weeks ago on September 20, I arrived at my mothers cottage on Lake George. It was time to bring her home to Boston, where she lives in...

by Judy
October 30, 2012 

The agony and ecstasy: the agony of being with her at night when she can’t sleep; can’t get comfortable; she’s miserable and restless and is moaning and babbling. It’s like she enters a different realm at night that is full of demons and there is nothing you can do to help except continue to stroke her and then maybe she will sleep for five or ten minutes before she wakes again. Sometimes she wakes from a nightmare and confuses reality with dream and what can soothe her in that moment may be as simple as...

by Judy
October 24, 2012 

The title of this blog is “when the table turns” and really the table started to turn quite a while ago. There are subtle and then not so subtle changes that have been happening over quite some time. Life is about change and yet we don’t always fully acknowledge that or live by that undeniable fact.

So when did the table start to turn? When did my strong, ever independent mother who late into her early nineties still insisted on doing all or most of the driving when I was with her; who continued to cook not only for herself but at times...

by Judy
September 24, 2012

It's a continual letting go; letting go of who my mom used to be; who I used to be with my mom; letting go and at the same time taking on new attributes like patience and more patience. I remember when my mom’s memory which had always been quite good began to change and she began to repeat questions or not remember what I had told her. At first there is a rebellion that takes place or perhaps a better expression would be a resistance to really accepting what is happening. I would get impatient and annoyed with my mom; “Come on mom you...

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