She's is in a wheel chair all day. Numerous bladder infections have caused her to live with a permanent catheter. She doesn't see or hear very well and she is living with Alzheimer's disease.
When we visit she can engage for five minutes and then you can see that she and her mind have traveled somewhere that only she comprehends.
She was the most creative person I have ever known. Pick a form of artistic expression and she excelled at it.
She never finished high school. Her father died when she was 11. Most of her adult life she lived with a panic and anxiety disorder that was often debilitating for her.
My sisters and I talk about how we hope when the time comes for her to die that is is quick. That she doesn't suffer or linger. That she falls asleep one night and wakes up in the arms of an angel.
We talk about why a loving God allows her to suffer - Day after day simply staring off into space.
I mean, good Lord, the woman is in her mid-80's. What else does she possibly need to learn?
It was yesterday afternoon that the answer appeared for me.
Joan and I were watching TV and she looked over at me.
What are you thinking.
You just looked like you were deep in thought.
It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
It's not my mother that needs to learn. It's me.
What if I woke up today and didn't remember who I was, where I was or what happened 15 minutes ago?
The lesson isn't for my mother. It's for me.
The lesson is to savor each moment of lucidity, each experience, good, bad, positive, negative, joyous or painful and hold it so tight its screams to be released.
It is noticing each shift in the wind and weather and not anticipating but living and learning that right now.............. that right now is the best now there is.
It is loving and not holding grudges.
In one of his movies Jack Nicholson opened the door to a doctors office, stared at the waiting room full of people and said What if this is as good as it gets?
In many ways it is. In many ways today may be the last moment we remember and if so I REALLY don't want it to be about everything that is wrong with me and the universe.
My mothers greatest gift is to be present and to simply enjoy the gifts we've been given. To look at everything around you and to appreciate it.
It may be gone in the blink of an eye