Thursday, August 07, 2008

Alley Grazer Farewell

To my friends and friends of friends who have encouraged me with your comments, and harangued me to keep on blogging, I thank you and salute you. Many of you are stellar writers in your own right and I am honored to be among you.

This summer I have not tasted a single lambs quarters stem or chickweed leaf. I did not wander the byways of my town in search of dinner or trundle through alleys to the lake. This year, my alley grazing was confined to my imagination. This year everything changed.

A visit to see my Mom in June turned quickly into a bedside vigil and then hospice at home, as the health problems that had plagued her for a couple years turned into the knock out punch.

I grazed in the land of the dying as I sat by my mother's bedside to watch that gradual withdrawal from this sphere to another. The day I told her she was dying, she seemed more surprised than anything. "Huh," she said like I was telling her that someone had moved or gotten a dog. But once she got the word, she moved into her pro-active mode and asked, "So what's can we speed this up?" Even though she seemed too lively to be heading to the tunnel of light, she hadn't eaten for weeks, except a bite of yoghurt here and there. Because of the pain.

In a situation that most people would find terrifying-bedridden, drugged, in pain, in diapers that need changing, with legs that didn't move, and strangers heaving her around like a sack of taters-she summoned an uncanny sense of the absurd and made sure that we all got to laugh with her about it. Her comedic tendencies reached full flower on this unlikely stage. Because she could barely talk and her hand and facial gestures were in slow motion, and because she was fully aware that she was entertaining us, her comments were funnier than anything I'd ever seen or heard.

At one point, discouraged at her inability to communicate with us, she reached for the Kleenex box and started talking into that. She got so much mileage out of that box as a prop that all she had to do was start reaching and we were falling down, almost crying with laughter. When communication shifts from verbal to visual, to charade like gestures and the subtlest facial expressions, you enter an entirely different world of possibilities. Mom seemed to plumb this mother lode for every nuance of expression. To say we were blessed by this unexpected bounty doesn't even begin to cover it.

She was open, vulnerable and sublime as I had never seen her in her able bodied life. Her grace under fire was breathtaking and reassuring. She showed me that going out in style could be done with diapers on. It could be accomplished with words falling from the tongue like little chunks of wood. It could happen when she was wrapped in drug induced delusions and the fragrance of death and decay. What a gift my mother handed me on her way out the door.

The extra large gift for me was getting to know my two brothers all over again, to know them in the face of what none of us wanted, and to be able to receive their abundant caring for me and to realize how important they are to me every day of my life. Our cousins got in on the act too, showing up just when we needed them. Leaving the cocoon of that family connection was really hard...for all of us.

In closing, I ask that you check in to stay posted on my next project. My novel is getting some attention from me again and I will certainly be writing about this last adventure with Mom. Again, thank you for your comments and your beautiful presence in this world. All of you!


Anonymous said...

Jewels~~ Thank You for your beautiful share.
Happy to hear your novel will once again be flying out of the keys moved by your creative mind and fingertips. Your writting style always has an electric tang of its own.
This post is special to say the very least. The picture you have painted with words of your Mother is truly fine. I see a part of her in your presence and your humor.
Best to you and your family. Love lots, beej

funforager said...

Thanks Beej
I always love to hear what you say. I love that 'electric tang' bit. I can taste that!

I can tell I have lots to say about my Mother. Don't we all. I will be writing about her until they 'carry me out feet first'. That was one of her favorite sayings. J

Anonymous said...

Hey Julie:
So nice to connect with this site again, and hear your words and experiences with your mum...

My thoughts have been with you


Debi said...

Wouldn't you know it, just when I get my act together and get back to the blogging world, one of the blogs I was looking forward to becoming familiar with has ended. But, every ending is a new beginning, right? I hope you'll post something here about your novel so we can follow your progress. Based on what I've seen of your writing, it will be wonderful.

I'm sorry to hear about your mom's passing, but from your own words I see that you have gained something immeasurable from it. It was inspiring to read about the transformation. Wishing her godspeed to what's next.

Jo Ann said...

Does anyone know how to start growing Simpson Seedless Lettuce? I cannot find anything on how to get started! HELP :)

funforager said...

Jo Ann
Whenever I grow it, I just make a long dent in the soil with a rake handle and drop the seeds into the trough, then lightly cover with the loose soil and tamp. You know, the usual. Some people like to sprout their seeds first and then plant, but if I was a seed, I would want to hang out for a while and check it out before I got wet. If you are planting now it might be for a greenhouse. That stuff will grow itself with nice soil, good temp, and water, so throw those babies in there

claudia said...

As I read this I am reminded that I've never known anyone with the ability to see the world through the love-colored glasses you do, and that it saved my life once.

I love you, my dear old pal.


Angela said...


This is really beautiful - I'm sorry it took me so long to read it! I hope you keep on blogging!