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an earthquake

by Judy
September 17, 2012

The hardest battle my mother has ever fought is going on right now at the ripe old age of 96. A little over a month ago she had a massive stroke in her midbrain on the right side which left her almost paralyzed on the left side of her body. And it has also affected her emotionally and who knows in how many other ways. I think of it like an earthquake that has occurred and she is still feeling the aftershocks. It has changed her whole inner and outer environment. She is struggling and going through a lot and still she is fighting.  In spite of everything, I see her still trying with the help of aids and therapists to get better while at the same time knowing she is nearing the end of her life.  She tells me at her lowest times how very unhappy she is – something that I never heard her say before, but she has not given up.  And it’s touching because she still has space inside her at times to think of me - not always - but at times.

It was about 16 years ago now when my mom was in her early eighties and she traveled all the way down to Australia to visit me. I was of course aware of my mother’s advancing age and at the same time she was still such a force and center of attention wherever she went. In that way she wasn’t an easy person always to be with as she dominated the stage so to speak. She was not a good listener. Although I always loved and admired my mother greatly, I felt a certain resentment towards her in those days…she was always in control. I was always the daughter, her little girl, and she was always the strong independent woman who did everything. But on that trip, one night when we were staying at a spa that turned out to be very run down, she was cold and asked me for a hot drink. I saw a fragility in her that I had not seen before. She needed me. She wasn’t so strong and I could see how easily she could get sick. Something shifted in me that night. That was the beginning. The simplest way I can describe it is I softened and whatever resentment had been there also softened. In retrospect, there was a conscious recognition that the tables were turning.


(Originally written July 26, 2012)

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