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going gentle into that good night

by Judy
February 21, 2013

The thought came to me the other day that my mom is going gentle into that good night. That expression came to mind in relationship to Dylan Thomas’s famous poem that begins: “Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at the close of the day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” This poem, that I always loved, was actually written for his very sick father, but Dylan himself lived raging in his own way against the dying of the light. He ended up dying at the young age of 39 from hard living and drinking and...

by Judy
February 14, 2013 

It’s Valentine’s Day – a day all about love. Love between husband and wife, between good friends, sisters and brothers, parent and child. What is this love that moves us so deeply? What does it look like? How is it expressed? I asked my 96 year old mother what love is and she said, “It’s a deep feeling of closeness.”  So simple. Then I asked myself, what then is this closeness that evokes so many feelings; feelings of warmth, affection, joy, tenderness and even feelings that are overwhelming at times? I...

by Judy
February 7, 2013 

As I delve into writing this blog, I feel in some ways like a detective, a social scientist or perhaps just an acute observer who is studying the whole process of aging. What does it look like, how does it change? It’s not like aging hasn’t been studied before - now more than ever - but however much knowledge is out there, for each one of us, how our family ages and ultimately how we age, has its own distinct qualities. However much we know, we are all still going into new territory. In this way I feel that Andrea...

the joy of laughter

by Judy
January 31, 2013 

There is nothing so delightful and beautiful as a shared laugh. For some reason, with my mother, when she does or says something funny or when I do or say something funny, we laugh together and that laughter creates its own laughter and then like a ball set in motion we find ourselves just laughing. It’s an infectious laughter that springs from deep inside, can bring tears to the eyes and a deep sense of oneness. Sometimes my mother will ask me, “Why are you laughing? “And I’ll say, “Because you are laughing...

by Judy
January 24, 2013 

As my mother is moving toward her 97th year, post-stroke, post pacemaker and post aortic valve replacement; she is still remarkably there.  No doubt senses are failing: eyesight, smell, taste and to some degree hearing, but at the same time her sense of touch and feel have become acutely sensitive. It’s as though there is only a thin membrane, much thinner than skin, between her inner and outer world. She is particularly sensitized to the touch, sound and feeling of other human beings. She notices...

by Judy
January 17, 2013 

Since about three and a half years ago when the tides changed with regard to my mom’s health and independence, I have been involved with many people in the care giving profession: doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, physical, occupational and speech therapists in hospitals, rehabilitation centers and at home. And as in everything, there is a wide diversity of expertise and care that is shown by these men and women of all different backgrounds. In every situation that my mom has been in, certain people...

by Judy
January 10, 2013

I've been thinking about this whole phenomenon of hallucinations that happens, it seems, so frequently in the elderly. It also seems to be a phenomenon spoken about so little by doctors, nurses or caregivers. Why is that? Is it because it is so unknown and the medical field really doesn’t know why it occurs and so has not addressed it? Or maybe because they don’t know how to “mend” it? It’s like this unspoken phenomenon that no one really wants to get into, but as a family member, you are suddenly confronted...

by Judy
December 30, 2012 

I continually delight in watching my mother eat her breakfast every morning. First one has to understand that this was a woman who did everything quickly and ate faster than anyone I have ever known- even faster than my brother. She ate with a ferocious quality like she had not eaten for days. She particularly loved bread. She still loves bread and especially bagels but now when she eats her eyes are often closed and she takes one bite at a time and chews very slowly, extremely slowly. Except for her mouth...

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...