Monday, 9 January 2017

Opportunities & Memories

8 Jan prompt: Word of the Day: 
Torschlusspanik (German) - Gate closing panic, or the fear of diminishing opportunities as one ages. Write at least 500 words inspired by the meaning of the word: a situation, a memory, an emotional encounter. Try to not actually use the word itself - rather, create a moment to which the word applies, and explore it.

Today's post is a day late. Basically, I just blame Sunday. 
* * * 

I was awakened by the tinkle-tinkle of the little silver bell. I sat bolt upright, and gave my eyes a second to adjust to the red digits on my bedside alarm. 02h10. It really was the middle of the night. I shifted my feet over the side of the bed, quietly stood up and began to tiptoe out of the bedroom.

"What's up" I heard my husband ask quietly. 
"Nothing" I replied, "Go back to sleep, you have work tomorrow."

I tiptoed down the passage, stopping outside the guest room door. I stood there for a moment, wondering if she was still awake. I heard whispering coming from inside, and realised that she was chatting to herself.

The light of the passage sneaked into the room as I pushed the door open gently.

"Hi mom" I whispered, "you're awake early."
"Morning" she replied. "Can I have some breakfast?

I was reminded that it was around 02h00, but this meant nothing to her anymore. Time was no longer a factor that streamlined her life. 

"Of course, mom" I replied, "Shall I put on your light?"
"Yes, please. I think I will read a bit." she smiled.

My mom-in-law loved reading. I put the light on, and added a pillow behind her back so that she was slightly raised, gave her the book that was lying open on her bedside table, and then pottered off to make some breakfast.

"What are you doing?" my husband whispered from the doorway.
"Mom is hungry so I am just making her something to eat." 

He came in and put the kettle on, put out three cups for tea, and some toast in the toaster. Everything was done as quietly as possible in order not to wake our two-year old. I think she was subconsciously used to this, because she seldom woke, but when she did, it was not easy to convince her that it was, in fact, still the middle of the night.

The toast popped up, my husband buttered it and put on a nice thick layer of orange marmalade.  Mom loved marmalade. 

"Breakfast time" I said as we gently lifted her into a sitting position. I stuffed another couple of pillows behind and on her sides to keep her sitting upright. I held her tea to her mouth and positioned the straw for her to have a sip. 

"Be careful, it may be a little warm still." I warned her.

"I must make a roast this weekend," she said. "Dad has been asking for a roast. You know he loves them. I do need to clean this kitchen. Will you pass me that dishcloth over there?" she waved her hand in the direction of the bedroom window.  "It's on the sideboard. It really needs a wash." 

She often thought she was pottering in her kitchen. I think it may have been her favourite room.

"Let's eat our breakfast first, then think about washing, shall we?" I smiled at her, and she was happy to continue. My husband put a little piece of toast in her right hand, and watched to see if she needed help.

Mom loved cooking. She is the only woman I have ever known that would make three different varieties of a meal for her family based on what they liked. If one wanted scrambled eggs, another hard boiled and another fried eggs for breakfast, she would make each one what they wanted. 

When she wasn't in her kitchen, she was either reading, or playing Scrabble. Her and I loved playing Scrabble together. I cannot remember how many weekends we would sit at her dining room table and play for hours, being interrupted only by calls for tea, or dinner time.  She was good company.

"You OK now mom? Do you want to read a little more?"  My husband asked as I began to collect the cups and plate.

"Yes please" she said, reaching for her book, but not finding it. 

"Here it is." He put the book into her outstretched hand. "When you are done, just give us a call and we will help lie you down properly, OK?"

She was suddenly emotional and I saw tears well up in her eyes. From time-to-time she would be completely lucid, and in these times she was usually emotional. "I am so sorry I am doing this to you, I don't want to be a burden."

The stroke had knocked out most of her brain function and her left side was completely paralysed. She was like a child now, this strong and independent lady, and my heart went out to her. In moments like these she felt humiliated, and there was nothing we could say to let her know that family are there for each other.

We kissed her forehead and said "It's OK mom. Don't worry about anything."

We left her with her book and went to chat in the lounge for a while. We were awake. It was tough on my husband too, seeing his mom that way.

A while later we wandered back to our room, popping our heads into her doorway as we passed. "Is that a good book?" My husband asked.

"Oh yes!" She beamed. "It's a great book!"

We looked at each other and shared a little laugh. The book was now upside-down and back-to-front, but clearly just holding it, felt like home to her.

"Do you want to kip for a bit?

"I think so. But I am sore, Can I lie on my other side now?" she asked.

"Of course!" We removed the pillows, and positioned ourselves on either side of the bed, and between us slowly moved her down to a lying position, and turned her onto her right side.

We took the medicated liquid we used, and rubbed her back for a while to help make her feel more comfortable, then pulled the sheets up, and tucked her in.

"Have a good sleep mom." We whispered from the doorway and tiptoed back to bed.
"See you later."

* * * 

Mom passed away a few months afterwards - on her birthday. 

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