The Walled Garden

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting my mom at the nursing home in which she now resides. The Parkinson’s Dementia she has been diagnosed with has taken a horrible toll upon a woman who I always considered the foundation and the glue holding our family together.

Mom weighs as much as a sparrow’s feather now and is just as frail yet she has moments where superhuman strength takes over her body and she leaves all of us shaking our heads in wonder. Part of Mom lives on in those flashes of indelible spirit and we all laugh at the memories it imparts.

Seeing my mother in this state humbles me, saddens me, and makes me feel like there is a hollow pit in my stomach and in my heart. The remorse comes from the realization that at my age, Mom had already accomplished more than I will ever dream of doing in my entire life time and I never took the time to appreciate her as much as I should have.

Every time I punch in the code number to exit her new home I feel a pang, a desire to turn around and snatch her up and take her with me to my farm where I am convinced the fresh air and goat milk would snap her out of this illness.

I drive around my old hometown and the surrounding area trying to recall images of when I was a child and Mom was Mom. I see her out in the garden pulling weeds, an open garden full of flowers growing in profusion amid flawless vegetables and long stemmed raspberry bushes. I see her in the back yard hanging up the wash with sun bleached clothespins on a bright summer day. I catch ghosts of memories out of the corner of my mind in every place we ever visited together and try to reach out for more only to be reminded that those carefree days are over.

I have not written here for a while because I am coming to terms with all of this and scrambling to make more of my life than I had been. I am growing my dairy goat herd, trying to start my own business, I switched jobs, and I am in the middle of moving to my own farm. A hectic schedule keeps the dark thoughts away I guess and forces me to do more with my life than just pass through it.

Yet, as a milestone birthday approaches, I am reminded that at this very age my mom was anticipating my birth. A woman who had already raised 2 children was starting over with a newborn at 39 when she should have been starting to live life again free of all restraint. She embraced my life, made it incredible by her sacrifice, and also made all of my attempts look feeble in comparison to the mountains she silently moved.

Memories cover the wounds of reality and soften the harsh glare of the present. I see that fragile form sitting in a specially equipped wheel chair, her chin being held in place by a head harness so that she does not dislocate her jaw, and I wonder what is still going on in her medicated mind. As we sit together in the walled garden does she catch glimpses of the past like I do. Gilded images of the holidays at home, birthday parties, celebrations? Or is her mind swept clean only capable of doing things by muscle memory like eating and breathing?

A huge part of me hopes that Mom is somewhere else, healthy and living life away from that broken mind and body. I think we all wish, in times of hardship that we were somewhere else where life is as we remembered it before the reality of the real world soured our perspective. It is with thoughts like this that I vow to find that better place  before it is too late. To establish a life that means something and will make a difference the way in which my Mom did.

I vow to write more, to do more, to be more and hopefully inspire my readers to do the same. This life was never meant to be rushed through, it was meant to be cherished, to be built and rebuilt over and over, to be lived in the present creating fond memories to turn to on occasion,  and to be remembered as something good, something incredible!

 

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