January 28, 2012

Sixty Years Ago on the School Bus

This post was published on Open Salon on January 27, 2012.

Last week my mother took a fall, and although the ER said nothing was broken, she is weakening physically and appears to be in a huge decline. Her physical weakening has happened over the course of a year or two, but in the last six days she has almost gone to being bed fast. Today my father is getting help in their apartment, and I will be going in a few days just to provide him some respite.

Her time is coming. She is only 79 but her quality of life has decreased tremendously. She is getting wonderful care, and has a loving family who gives all they can give especially my dad. But he is exhausted.

I can't go today, and I feel so helpless. My brother is two miles away and I'll be there next week.

I probably think about it too much, but your mother is your mother. Most people would agree it is the most complicated relationship of your life. My mom suffered from depression most of my childhood; only when Prozac came out did she have a few good years before the dementia got her. When she was not depressed, she was sunny and talkative and funny. She was also a very good friend to many people.
How fortunate I am to have had her in my life until now.

I have a newspaper column that runs in a number of papers in my state. I don't often write about her dementia but I did this week. This morning I got the following email, which was a huge gift to me. And I don't even know this person.

Dear XXX  
Where to begin ?? I know you, but you do not know me so will try to explain. But before I get into the subject, I/we love your "Raven Lunatic." It is delightful and I/we felt sadness reading the one regarding your Mother and her illness. Your Mother is the reason for this email. And this is just a little history of your/our family a few generations back.
Your Mother & I attended Center School together until she left to finish her schooling in Fort Wayne. We were good friends and I missed her smile and quick laughter. We rode the bus along all the bumpy country roads laughing when we were bounced and jostled about going over big humps and potholes, which was an almost daily occurrence. She was not only a good friend but a very kind person to all. We, my husband and I, learned to know your Dad as we always included them in our yearly 1950 Class Reunions. And yes, he is a nice person too !
Your Aunt was a friend of my older sister, also in the same graduating class sharing many happy memories. If you talk with your Aunt please tell her my sister is still in her own home taking care of herself very well.
Now on to your Grandmother Lenore. She and my husband's Mother, Fern XXXXX XXXXXX were friends all there lives, going to the same school. In later years, the "girls" as they called themselves, would visit, having coffee or perhaps tea, and reminiscing of their younger years and life in general. They grew up in really hard times and it was interesting to hear how they made things out of almost nothing. I especially remember their long conversation regarding televisions being in every one's home and how it would be the ruin of the country/nation !!!! And perhaps they were correct.
We are truly sorry to hear of your Mother's illness and the last Class Reunion she attended I was able to converse with her some, however knew she was not herself. How fortunate to have so many resources to help. If she has a good day tell her I said hello and give her a hug from us.
Again, we love your articles in the newspaper. You do a beautiful job !!
Your Mother's friend,