This afternoon, I sat next to her bed while she was resting
and I thought "This is a nightmare" but then I changed my line of thoughts because
what's the point about being negative and having harsh statements run circles
in your head so I tried to have more positive and creative thoughts such as
"No, it's more like a marathon". A long marathon for sure and a bizarre one
where we have no idea where is the finish line. And I also corrected myself
in thinking that I'm not even the one doing this marathon, she is! Me, I'm just
the "marathoner's helper", I keep running along the sides and asking "Do you
want another sip of water?" or "Are you ready for your Power bar now?". My job
is to keep encouraging her too and for that matter, I am not alone in doing
this, I told her that her grand-daughter sent a message saying how much she
loved her and to give her kisses, that her niece called and said she thinks
often of her and that she is coming to visit soon, that even the cashier at
the supermaket asked me how she was doing! I said that we all love you and think
you are wonderful and don't you worry about anything, just keep running, just
To be exact, the word "running" is a little bit too grandiose for what we are both doing, slow motion shuffling is closer to reality but what matters is that she knows (verbally or intuitively) that we support her and we are there surrounding her. The finish line will come soon enough. In the meantime, we keep going.
And I got a treat today as I was talking about the weather. But I need to give you the context and say that "the weather" is a big deal in my family. My father was quite a weather buff and had been all his life. His passion for the mountain included understanding (and sharing) what he knew about the weather. He always used to say that as an alpine guide you better know and respect the weather. At 60 years old, he went to the university in Chambery and did a special program on "Alpine glaciation conditions". He told me (proudly) that, at the time, there were only two places in the world which offered this specialized program, one was in Boulder, Colorado and the other one in Chambery, Haute-Savoie. So my father (with his amazing photographic memory) knew tons of stuff about it and certainly loved to share it. In my family, talking about the weather was not considered "small talk" but as important as any political or philosophical subject. For my mother, as she got older and Big Alz progressed, she developed a quirky thing. Whenever anyone made a comment on the weather she would say "On gouverne pas le temps!" (we don't control the weather). It was one of her key phrases which she used a few times a day… If we look at our brain as a bunch of drawers full of data, she had numerous ones that she could not open anymore. On the other hand, some of them would pop open constantly at random, usually triggered by a key word. I must admit that it sometimes bugged me because of the insane repetition. But I had noticed that it was actually a clever one that would always get her a good response and was usable in ANY TYPE OF WEATHER! In the summer, when the baker would say "That's quite a heat wave we're having" My mother would say "On gouverne pas le temps!" and the baker would answer "That is so true!" and they would smiled together. In the winter when the neighbor would say "When is it going to stop snowing?" He would get a solemn "We don't control the weather" and he would replied "You are so right, Marguerite!".
Earlier today, sitting next to her bed and looking out the window at the November fog, I kept chatting because she was not really asleep, she was just lying there resting quietly, buried under the covers, and I think it is good for me to talk for both of us, it does not matter if it is a one way conversation, she needs the stimulation and the company, so I said "What nasty weather we are having today" and a little voice from the bed said "On gouverne pas le temps!"
I laughed and I was so delighted to hear her say this! It was the longest phrase of the day and I treasured it. It put me in a good mood right there on the spot. It felt like the marathon was hitting a nice gentle slope and we were actually cruising for a little while. I daydreamed about my parents and "the weather" and how both my father's encyclopedic knowledge and my mother's one liner were morphing right here and then on the spot and bringing me peace for a moment.
Thank God for the moments of joy and peace, that's all I have to say!
Michele Szekely November18@2013
first posted on facebook. My mother's name was Marguerite (Daisy) and in her honor, I am building a photographic collection of these lovely flowers.