• Watching the wind

    by Jesse Loren

    The yard sounds like the ocean today. Waves and waves of fluttering leaves roar like the ocean tides. One wave after the other swings the catalpa tree due south, then south again. Few birds are out. And the ground is clear of all leaves. A honeybee buzzes onto a rose. A bumblebee helicopters over to the trumpet vine. The wind blows the other way whipping the oaks, the catalpa and the eucalyptus. The catalpa branches bend almost 45 degrees, like respectful guests in a foreign land.

    I am in the kitchen. It is tidy, save for the boxes from the failed installation of roll-out cabinet drawers. This is the time of year I try to organize my nest. My mother is on the couch recuperating after eye surgery.

    I am watching the wind, an unseen force, like time, bends the living, without malice, just blowing through and again in waves.

    My mother asks me where she is. She has only taken eye drops, nothing narcotic. She wonders what strange house this is with the red and blue rooms, the neutral tones and chickens painted everywhere. Almost hourly, she remarks at the warmth of this house.

    Where is Winters, she asks, as if the history of my being in this place for nearly 17 years has left her. Time, for her, is like leaves fallen from seasons past.
    Is this my house? She asks, then adds, I live somewhere by water right?

    Yes, you live at the beach and a lagoon rests in your backyard.


    Yesterday, she was perfectly reasonable except for insisting that there was a prowler on her upstairs deck and that is why she came back. That is why she forgot her things. She wants to put a fence around her property to feel safe again.

    I want her to feel safe too. But what she wants to contain is not the relics of the 1950s — the bikes, pedal cars, old Coke machines and milk bottles; she wants to contain the id and ego that makes up Regina. Identity, for her, is in relationship to her things. Mom is to milk bottle as tree is to branch.

    My mom remembers who she loves, but where she is or what day or time, is gone. She used to argue about politics, but not anymore. She is so afraid of saying something stupid, she no longer goes to her meetings. A lifetime of business experience, but now the mail goes unopened and unanswered. She is sleeping soundly with three dogs cuddled up to her.

    I am trying to remain patient no matter what is asked. No matter how many times.

    I see myself in the Catalpa. There are only two blushes of spring bloom left, but those blooms are beautiful. The tree bends and sways with the invisible hand of the wind, but in bending, it does not break.

    • Beautifully written.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • May 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm
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      I remember my mom forgetting who I was and didn’t really remember my dad a couple years after he died. It was quit sad.

      • Jesse

      • May 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm
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      I hope you are doing well. If you have any advice as I start this journey with mom, please share. Jesse

      • Kelvin

      • May 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm
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      Very moving. Definitely well written. It’s a tough road, one that in some ways I feel fortunate to have missed a lot of. Both of my parents suffered from some dementia at the end of their lives but it wasn’t long or that profound. My father at the end seemed to be struggling to hold onto who he was. A heart attack took him before too long. Nothing really prepares a child to care for a parent in the sunset of their lives. It takes a ton of patience but where do you go to learn that? How can you learn that? The hardest thing is probably not to take it personally. I know that seems crazy. It’s one of the most emotionally charged relationships we have. How do we not take it personally? I guess it’s like caring for a baby. The baby doesn’t know you had a hard day. The baby doesn’t know you didn’t get much sleep and your back hurts and you have more bills than you have money. The baby’s crying because that’s what they do. And it’s not personal. It’s so stressful. But it’s not personal. It’s not intended. There’s no malice. It just….is.

    • I am experiencing this with my Mom. Thank goodness she can afford to live in her home with a caregiver. My sister and I have decided to move her in a few weeks out of her big home to an apartment. She is okay with it. It is very sad to watch our parents fade in front of us. I have no advise really except that it is so hard and so trying with rare moments of levity. My Mom is now totally disabled and her brain only functions for long term memory and every once in a while a beautiful moment of clearness for the here and now.. She does know me and my sister and the grand kids and even the great grandchildren. But she only can name me and my sister. If my Mom knew how she was living she would want to die but dementia fools the mind into thinking they are still active.

      • Carolyn Wyler

      • May 28, 2012 at 7:40 am
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      My oldest brother ended up having my mom come live with him. (She passed away two and a half years ago). I had my husband’s mom live with us though right before she died. I agree with Kelvin. Takes a lot of patience and not taking things personally which is sometimes so hard especially if the relationship is strained or complicated before the aged parent starts going downhill. Make sure you take time for yourself otherwise caring for a loved one can be even more challenging and stressful than it is.

    • My wife is experiencing this with me, I think. Love the way this is written, you have a poet’s blood I think.

      • Jesse

      • May 29, 2012 at 6:54 am
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      Thanks everyone.

      Don, you are too funny, but I appreciate your humor. Kelvin, my mom has perfect days where she has a grasp on everything, then there are the bad days. We just spent 3 weeks together. One gets to see a lot at three weeks. I love my mom, but she is tough, loud, and has yappy dogs. The part I wasn’t prepared for was her displacing my items. My phone, my husband’s glasses, leashes, keys…. I imagine that adults revert to the preschool stage where all the cubbies have names on them. Also, I am not taking things personally, and I am trying not to be right all of the time.
      Carolyn, I am not schooled in taking time for myself, but it seems that I have to learn the skill. Somehow, I have to relearn how to manage my time without all my decisions revolving around the needs of others. It’s a skill I need desperately and I don’t know how to learn it. Thanks friends.

      • Debbie

      • May 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm
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      This is a lovely piece, Jesse. Your kindness and patience towards both your mom and yourself shine through.

      • Dora

      • May 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm
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      Your home is warm and bright, that any child would wonder where it is. You have brought mom to a magical place where all she can do is marvel. Thank you for showing her your love, even though she may not show hers. I love you and some day I will see your colorful walls, your swaying trees and the warmth of your love.

      • Jesse

      • June 5, 2012 at 7:28 am
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      I love you Dora. I love mom too. I miss her and will be seeing her next week. She has great days, just some of the short term stuff is off. She loves you Dora, and happy belated birthday. Ok, on to jury duty. Jesse

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