Things are changing in the world, and they’re changing fast, but somehow it doesn’t seem to hit until change gets to someone you know and care for.
The short version is that I’ve just been on the phone with my mother, and the minor stroke she had last August did more damage than anyone realised at the time. The confident, organised woman who could sort out the most amazing messes is gone, replaced by… well, she is still my mother, but she is far more needy and more dependent. She can no longer take stock of an unfamiliar situation and sort it out – someone else has to do that part, and tell her what to do. It’s across the board: unpacking and moving into a new (smaller) place, packing and culling, even things as simple as what items to put in which closets. And of course, finding books on a topic of interest at the library (she’s lucky: her local library has very helpful librarians who will find and recommend books for her), navigating an unfamiliar mall, and any number of smaller things most people take for granted.
To me, watching this unfold from the other side of the world, it’s rather like watching something familiar transform into an off-balance version of itself: so many of the traits I associate with Mum just aren’t that way now. She is still Mum, but she’s not who I remember and who I thought she was. I can only hope that there are no more strokes, and that nothing else robs her and her family of who she is.
Because that is perhaps the hardest thing of all: Mum knows what she’s lost. She’s facing it reasonably well, considering she’s also dealing with a bad case of life shitting on her, and she – so far – has been able to find people willing to help do the organising and tell her what to do.
And of course, the writer-brain keeps taking notes about all of this, about my reactions and emotions, ready to use in a story somewhere. I don’t think that will happen for a while, though: it’s still too close, too raw.