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Unwrapping shit...

She reached over and squeezed my hand. I returned the gentle squeeze and held her hand as we silently continued down the highway. We had been following my brother pulling the U-Haul trailer for several hours now. Heading North on I-15 away from the beautiful red rocks of Southern Utah.

 The year before my Dad died they had purchased a small retirement place there. A place my mother had come to call home over the past 15 years. It wasn't home - not really- but she had built a good life there since my father died all those years ago. She had many times reflected back to that day and said that Dad must have known he was leaving her soon because he had asked her "Is this the place you will be happy Mom?"

It had only been about eight weeks earlier that she had called me. "It's time for me to come home Brenda Lee..." A few simple words. One sentence. I knew it marked the beginning of a road we would travel together now.  The road lay long and straight ahead of us. The sun was beginning to sink to our left. We both could feel the peaceful assurance that we were headed in the right direction. Home. Our home. None of this was going to be easy - and those few miles we road together in silence feeling that assurance continues to be my strength on our most difficult days together. The veil of forgetfulness that comes with age brings an undeniable fear of the unknown to her eyes on those days. Other days we laugh together - perhaps over how good dinner was... "I can't remember a thing I ate but it must have been delicious and I ate every bite because I'm so full now I need a nap." That evening we all laughed together and quite accurately my daughter described the moment as reminiscent of Pooh Bear innocence.

For years now I am certain she knew that it was coming. I believe that early on she heard the whisperings of the Spirit tell her that memory would slip from her grasp. She spoke of it often - always with fear of it's imminent approach. I would tell her that she was being ridiculous and to let it go. But she could not - she knew what I did not -- she knew.

I believe we all are given that "knowing" of things that we may not want to face. With the knowing comes the ability to prepare for the terrain ahead that will be laden with difficulties. It is a Peace Offering. In Augusten Burrough's book This is How he describes some of life's offerings this way - "Sometimes life hands us gift-wrapped shit. And we're like 'This isn't a gift; it's shit. Screw you." I love his brutal honesty about many of the experiences we would toss aside as worthless when in fact our life gardens cannot grow without them. My favorite way to deal with these packages is to look at them with disgust and toss them to the side. I'm not picking that up. And yet...I know. I recognize the wrapping paper.

I know.

I can recognize Peace even from a distance watching me - waiting patiently for me accept the offering. Really?? You can't give me something I would actually enjoy experiencing? No response. (Of course) Just a nod to pick up the gift, open it and move forward.  Somehow the package contents are always just what I need most - I just didn't know it until the life foliage around me began to bloom.    

It was my mother who joined me on the journey this past month. She is eighty six and beautiful inside and out. As her short term memory fades her recall of the past is illuminated. It is with joy she recounts her life. (A gift.) As she becomes more child like my children love to "play" with her. They spend hours together. One day driving 25 miles simply to enjoy a slice of cheesecake. It was after all national cheesecake day. (Another gift) I came home from work and my kitchen was spotless with every dish clean and put away. Who could be so thoughtful? Only a mom. (Wow...what a gift)

She was and still is afraid of the darkness that is front of her but she does not let that fear keep her from moving forward. Neither will I. I am sure we will find more packages to open along our way. I hope I recognize them for what they really are.


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Reader Comments (1)

Beautifully composed. Maybe there is a different way to view what till now I have considered a cruel way for one to live out their final days.

February 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterThomas J Warne

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