This post is not about my new dog, Jack.
Sometimes, when I am on my way over to see my mother, my stomach feels queasy with anxiety because I start playing the worry tape in my brain: How long can this go on? What if the caregivers quit? What will it be like later on when she can’t walk, can’t talk? What if her money runs out?
Then I speak to myself firmly: No. Stop it. Everything is fine right now. We’re luckier than most. Don’t borrow trouble. Take 10 slow breaths. There you go.
But, how long can this go on? What if the caregivers quit?
And so on.
And yet, when I arrive at the house and see my mother, it’s impossible to feel queasy and worried. Most of the time, she is cheerful and excited about every little thing.
The lawn is filled with weeds that happen to be blooming? Mom is thrilled. “Look at those sweet flowers! They weren’t here yesterday! We can grow anything in this soil!”
We go to the hardware store to buy a tool? Mom becomes giddy with excitement. “This place has everything! There is nowhere else in town where you can buy this!”
We go to the Tastee Diner for lunch? Her enthusiasm knows no bounds. “This place has the best eggs in town! And they are open all night! You never know who you will see in here!”
She carpes the hell out of every diem.
And I feel happy, because she is happy.
But underneath there is a layer of poignancy, a sharp awareness that this gift she now has of living exactly in the moment comes at a terrible cost. Her once brilliant brain, now slowly being strangled by Alzheimer’s Disease, struggles to understand the simplest routines. It invents scenarios to explain where she is and why her husband is not there. Sometimes it leads her to believe she is a young girl engaged to my nephew, or her cat is starving to death, or the caregivers are stealing her money, or her small daughters have disappeared and why won’t someone help her find them?
So, while living in the moment sometimes means being thrilled there are dandelions in the lawn, it can also mean being caught up in terrible grief about an imagined tragedy.
Meh. I’ll see if I can wrap it up tomorrow. Right now I need to go take my…wait for it…NEW DOG for a walk.