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mornings with mom

mornings with mom, an essay by Judy Fox of When the Table Turns

by Judy
November 15, 2013 

There is such a sweet time that happens often with my mom...it's the window that opens between the time she wakes in the morning and has breakfast - that interim of time when she is just opening her eyes and I'm there to say good morning and give her a kiss. Sometimes she just smiles with such innocence and may ask me a simple question like, “Did you sleep good last night?” And then I'll ask her about how she slept. The other morning she asked me to get into bed with her - it was 8 am on Sunday morning. I crawled into the narrow hospital bed on my side -somehow I can always fit no matter how small the space - and cuddled with her. She is always so warm in the morning and soft. That morning she said to me I was the best antibiotic in the world – an interesting use of that word. I said to her that was the nicest thing I had ever heard. And then we just chatted about this and that...nothing in particular - and in our own familiar way, laughed together.  At those moments in the morning I feel like the luckiest person in the world. Where can one find such sweetness in this world?

One morning I decided to film her when she was particularly alert. This is a little bit of how that “ film interview” went:  

Judy: What's it like being 97 years old, Mom, having had a stroke 15 months ago and not being able to move a lot. What's it like at this point in your life?

Mom: Well, I've had better times. Naturally this has to be a low down – low point.

Judy: It's a low point in your life?

Mom: Yes, I would say so.

Judy: What kind of things do you find difficult?

Mom: Walking and I miss being able to work around the house.

Judy: What else?

Mom: I miss cooking. I liked cooking.

Judy: So you never thought this was going to happen to you?

Mom: No, nobody anticipates something like this.

Judy: Did you think you’d ever be this old?

Mom: Yes, I did because even though I was older, I didn’t feel that old.

Judy: Right, that makes sense. Do you feel old now?

Mom: No.

Judy: I didn’t think so.

Mom: No, I didn’t and I don’t.

Judy: So it must be hard when you actually don’t feel old and you can’t do the kind of things that you did before?

Mom: Right.

Judy: Is there anything positive that is happening for you right now?

Mom: Well you become more of a listener. And you let in the words - they become more pronounced.

Judy: Were you a good listener when you were younger mom?

Mom: Not particularly.

Judy: And you feel you listen well now?

Mom: Yes, I feel it’s more important. ((A little later) I always felt I could do more than I did and I enjoyed making different things just like I enjoyed doing different paintings.

Judy: So that makes it harder now because you can’t do those different things.

Mom: That’s right. The only thing I could do at this time is paint and that too is taken away BUT I survived. I love having people around. I enjoy people.

The conversation segued into talking about the boat trip we took together on the St. Lawrence River about a year before everything changed. It was a small intimate group of mostly Canadians and hardly anyone was under the age of sixty – most in their eighties and nineties. My mom loves to reminisce about this trip. It wasn’t a fancy boat – looked more like a riverboat and there was literally one room where everything happened – dining, playing games, dancing, hanging out. Almost everyone on the boat was just happy to be alive and be with everyone else. There was a deep sense of relaxation.  

We often end up laughing about the various characters on the boat who we made friends with and especially Harold, the same age as my mom in the early nineties, who I befriended and who formed an alliance with my mom in their shared experience of feeling sleepy on the "rocking" boat.

All this unfolds in these precious early morning hours when we talk often about nothing in particular and anything can be spoken about or when no words come, we just snuggle and kid around. This is the time when I find her the most relaxed, the most free from discomfort or tiredness. It’s the time before anything has happened and the love and joy between us permeates our being together.

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