Sunday, January 19, 2014

Melancholy Morning

I'll begin this post with a gratitude: I am blessed and forever grateful for my life with Keith here in Kansas City.  It is a life filled with laughter and friendship and learning and promise.  That said, the greatest challenge for me of this life is the distance away from my family. Every time I go to my West Virginia hometown, I leave with a heart so heavy; my hand is literally on my chest as the eyes well up. When I visit Mom in her nursing home, I photograph my Mom fully, when she's in good spirits and laughing.  In moments when she's weak, I will just photograph her hand in mine. 

 I admire photographers who capture the final struggles of their loved ones and some even record the most breathtakingly painful moments. I did that a bit with Dad during his last hospitalization. These are just not the physical images I want to be left though, as the mental images will be seared in my mind forever.  So I photograph her on every visit just in case, God forbid, it's the last.

I spoke with Mom this morning and it was a somber call.  She sounds weak and small.  I wanted to know that her laughter was still intact and to ensure that familial sense of humor has been our lifeline was still present.  I got her old recipe cards out and read some to her.

I reminded her that some were classics from my childhood like her peanut butter fudge and others were from the later, more healthier days like a sugar-free peanut butter pie.  She began chuckling at the memories and then I told her about one she called the Apple What You Call It Pie and she completely cracked up then.

 I rolled with it at that point and started recounting the old tales of the restaurant antics we would get into on our Sunday outings: my face after sucking on a lemon; Dad tossing a glass of water in the air trying to wave at someone; me dousing myself with Italian dressing trying to open the bottle.  All mortifying moments for Mom at the time but they sure brought the laughs all these years later.

One of my vows for this year is to make more of the family from Mom, Aunt Bonnie and Grandma Rinehart for starters.  Part of feeling that connection more, I suppose.  Mom has been telling my sister Shirley and I that she's ready to go.  She greatly misses Dad and her sisters, particularly Bonnie.  Hope of all hopes, she just keeps laughing until then.

                                       I love you, Mom.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I can relate; my Mom's in a care center also. Memories are really all she has left. A difficult time~ for me and her. Thanks for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

Reminded me of my Mom. Brought back wonderful memories/

Deb :) said...

I loved this!! Great pic of ur mom and her beautifully manicured hand! love her smile! I see where u get ur good heart from!! :)

Joel Pratt said...

I love how you wrote this, as it gives us a glimpse of how wonderful your mom is. It’s good that you take the time to record such visits, be it with photographs or fond memories. I’m sure she loves every single one of them, even during her weak moments. Thanks for sharing this with us. All the best!

Joel Pratt @ Comfort Keepers

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