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April 17, 2016: Muske Poem

A few minutes ago I discovered a poem in the New York Times magazine by a former teacher of mine, Carol Muske Duke. What she wrote described my situation. I guess that the particulars related to mothers who are dying and in need of hospice care are universal.

Daughters teaching mothers it’s okay to mourn. This (in the act) is an absurdity – especially for me because our relationship was so contentious. It is an affront of sorts – I can see mother thinking as I was telling her this “You just want to get rid of me!”

As they all are, this mother might be right. I am tired of waiting around, waiting being something that I have never done very well. I have a hard time hanging out in that stuffy room that only has one window. El wants it closed because Mom’s eyes turn red, meaning she has developed allergies to the plants she most loved. This is yet another unfairness.

I also hate seeing mother suffer. I want to see an end to this, which in part has involved surrendering her body to ineffectual care takers. Nothing is private if you are dying in a more public setting, and nursing home facilities are as public as you can get.

I have been looking away as they clean her up. This is out of respect – I as a daughter don’t want to see my mother’s private parts. At the same time, this is out of fear. I don’t know what it is I fear, maybe it’s the fact that the sight will become a permanent memory that I’ll never be able to shake off.

For sure, the end is now near. The Grim Reaper is back, sitting in the uncomfortable chair, legs crossed, a smirk on his insolent long face. The Grim Reaper is a guy – no woman would ever take on such an awful job.

Tonight, mother might do her eye fluttering parody of the queen, -- this will be his cue. He will take his hand in hers. Their eyes will meet – this will kindle the realization that mom and her family are permanently parting company.

El will somehow deal. I’ve continued to see signs of acceptance – I can now talk about what is inevitable.

This is going to be tough. No it is not. Together we are going to clean up this room, put stuff in boxes and later take it all to Goodwill. We’ll have to later pick up the ashes and spread them someplace. Beforehand, we’ll think about the process of cremation. Of course, the body is a shell that carries the essence of a human being.

I am going home next Friday – after, yes, having looked death in the eye. Something that I would have liked to be able to avoid. But it’s looking like I am having to do what I don’t want to do.

I am no different in having decided to do this except for the fact that in time my memories will fade. I don’t need these memories to remain crisp and sharp. I want to put this all behind me, and as quickly as possible.

Next: 103. 4/20/16: Plans Change

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