Enter your email address to receive weekly essays:

Check your inbox for a verification request. Thank you!


by Judy
December 24, 2012

When my mother speaks with her friends, it’s like she enters a world where nothing has happened. There never had been a stroke that changed her life so significantly. She’s the woman who gives advice, is interested to hear about what’s happening – a whole familiar stance manifests that has it's own particular aroma of ease and shared life history. 

So yesterday when Molly called and said she’d like to see her, my mother immediately invited her out for dinner forgetting that she can’t...

by Judy
December 18, 2012 

I’ve been up north for a week and coming back now to be with my mom, I notice changes. She is more restful in herself, not crying so much and has been sleeping most of the night. Also I can hang out with her and carry on quite long conversations. It’s like the ground is readjusting to the traumatic earthquake (the stroke she had) and pieces are coming back into place…the landscape is becoming more familiar.  And of course that has an effect on all of us who are taking care of her. I notice I feel more...

by Judy
December 13, 2012 

Such a changing landscape; one minute I am in communion with my mom. She is lying so peacefully in the early morning hours; dark outside as the rain comes down and it’s so sweet with her… and now I feel like screaming inside. She is moaning and groaning as she lies on a bedpan; her choice not to get up and go to the bathroom. It’s so hard to listen to her groans. I can’t distance myself from that as much as I try. It pierces consciousness.

Nearing the end of life aint always pretty...

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...