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  • Jane

Mum and I visit the hut


We're up here in our hut for the weekend. We came last night. It’s a skin/nerves/heart experience spending time with my nearly 94 yr old mum, who I love and I see as so vulnerable and regressing. She's like a little kid, but still like herself.

I feel pleasure knowing she is happy here with me. It is an exercise in true patience. The accumulation of 60 years of reactions, together with my effort to remember how she must feel - losing her senses, her speech, her thoughts, her actions, her hearing, her understanding of what I say to her. I continue to feel the reaction and quieten it. Smiling always helps me soften my tightened body. 

We came here last night. It took over 2 hours because of the traffic. She must have wet her pants - soaked her pants in fact - for when she sat down on the couch and got up again, there was a large, round, dark wet patch. She was unaware, and I thought whether to tell her or not, or how to tell her. I left it for awhile, and then, when it felt right, I mentioned to her that she left a wet patch on the couch and she needed to change her pants. She answered that she only has to change her pad. 

It’s so surreal when you think of it - that this is your mum who gave birth to you and raised you - in whatever functional way that was - and here she is wetting her pants and unaware of it. Unaware of many things but yet aware and doing the best she can. It’s an uphill battle or maybe a downhill one; when you're born you develop with every passing day. Mum has passed that peak long ago, and it’s such a noticeable decline - going down that hill, slowly losing everything. 

Old age is tough. But if you observe it, experience it, soak it in and bless it with that word (empathy), it is easier. It definitely is a slow death - life in reverse. A movie played backwards, or a gurgling brook bubbling backwards into the dark hole of its beginnings. I really am rambling on here but I’m trying to capture this time, this treasure, this event that goes on day after day but will, one day, finally stop. No more powerful reactions that are triggered and explode.

This is the practice - to observe it over and over again - to smile at it, feel it, examine it, move on and back again. Is it worth all this time and effort to get to feel and understand the vibrations between us. Does it help? Yes of course. What better thing is there to do in life? (Even though I can think of many things I’d like to do at the moment i.e.. time to get back to thinking/doing art).

I watch mum as she fusses around. With her big bottom of pads. She looks and watches, stands for a minute or two, and thinks. You can just about see the thought nerves travel from her brain to her hand. Her hand isn't sure about its next move. It holds itself there, in mid air, semi outstretched. Then the thought nerve arrives and tells the hand what to do, and the hand finally moves. Like opening the fireplace door. Collecting a dish. Turning the tap on. All with much thought - tick tick tick. 

She’s better sometimes, and slower sometimes. She’s ok. She’s finding her place here, in this little shack. The shack she and dad bought about 45 years ago. I remember I came here when I was about 17 (there’s a photo of me and mum at the front door even before they added the extension room). I’m the same but 45 years older). In the photo I have plaits and a cosy jumper and look cool in my own way. And happy. Mum too.  

I’ll tell you about this shack, the story of it and how it came into our family, and still is. Who knows what will happen in the future but we’re here at this moment. Maybe later. Now I have to go help mum with the mess in the kitchen. And find the pliers that I left next to the water mains last night when I had to turn it on. 


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