December 2011
mom's new best friend

I grew up with dogs. I don't remember not having a dog. And we always had big dogs. This is Victoria. She had nine puppies one year. I think I thought I was one of the puppies because apparently my parents had a hard time keeping me out of the newspapered pen in the garage where we kept them all. There are pictures of diapered Jonatha just sitting whispering in "Tory's" ear, puppies straggling all around.


On Sunday, I came across some of these pictures. I'd never seen them before. I was the third child, and so, as the story usually goes, pictures are, at that point, old news. And who has time? Well these pix of my mother and me capture the very things that are happening in reverse right now. This is where it all started. I see these expressions daily. Tenderness, wonder, joy, love.





I wonder if they were trying to come up with a family version of Wyeth's "Christina's World" here!! And what am I holding? It almost looks like an I-pad.


And then, tucked away in an envelope. Christmas; and Mom's red shoes. It must have started that early on. (the movie "The Red Shoes" is mom's other sure touchstone. We watch it, at least bits and pieces, almost every day.) She relates on a very deep level with Vicki Page, and her tormented push and pull - career - love - career - love. She loves the drama, Lermontov's fierce certainty.

The light blue socks... well that's anybody's guess. But these are bits and pieces of her, little glimpses in.


After Victoria, there was Jonah, Molly, Rebecca, Dylan, Charlie....
And now...mom loves her new dog so much. "Are you sure he can stay here? Is there enough room for everybody?"

Yesterday she named him "little one" and then "brother" and then "son." And then, one gorgeous sky later, "L. L."

the epidemic

One of my dearest friend's dad has Parkinson's. Another close friend's mom has just started the awful Alzheimer's decline.

It is everywere. It is affecting everyone. It's hard to ask for help. You feel like you've failed somehow. This should just be part of the drill - as mom would say: "Just keep on keeping on!" For so many years she never complained. It just wasn't her nature to even talk about pain, or strange changes in her capacity. Of course by the time I tried to have the conversation about any of it, she was deep into her own ingrained denial. There would be no reckoning. No heart to heart where at least we could commiserate and plan for the worst.

And so it goes. Help comes along the way, just as you are sinking. You get so tired of yourself and the heaviness of it all. And then the love buoys you. Someone reminds you. The full moon brings you back to beauty (Thank you Caroline). It is the worst. It sucks. But it is beyond profound and good in its subtle gifts. You can't just "keep on keeping on." Dementia taxes every morsel of goodness, patience, strength, kindness, and joy you have. Replacing a hip? easy. Physical pain? Easy. Madness, and it really is that, is a tricky beast.

Mom, completely bundled up this morning.... December chill.

And then, just waking up, mom said: "I love you very very very much, and I wouldn't go any other way than the way we're going now."

Today's gift.

Mom's Best Friend

Last fall when mom was recovering from knee replacement surgery, she was inseparable from her "little guys."

She couldn't decide which one she loved more, and every day was a new exercise - what to name them. The little brown guy will always be "Georgie" to me, but these days she's not that keen on him, and keeps trying to give him away. The little blond one? She is convinced at times that there really is "someone in there, - he's so REAL. It's like he's really listening!" She guards him fiercely. I like to think she remembers on some mysterious level that I sent him to her years and years ago after a particularly hard stretch for her. Somehow, given all the things she's "gotten organized" (thrown away) - he has remained at her side.

She finds creative ways for him to keep watch.

Each morning when I see her, "jimmy" or "francais" or "toots" will be straddling the hospital bed bars another way. I always have to run for the camera.

I swear, I did NOT set up these shots. Poor "Jonny boy" was having some kind of time out I guess.

The comfort is real. She can be having a  terrible terrible time; Anger, Tears;  "I'M NEVER COMING BACK TO THIS PLACE AGAIN!!!"  And you can hand her "Blup blup" and she will melt.
If all else fails, singing the 'Cream of Wheat" jingle usually turns things right around.

paris, again

Not sure what happened to Leo's left foot, or is this Pipo? And the mustache? Don't ask. But we got the green light. "Tanks goodness" as my husband would say, he does NOT have pneumonia. The worst sinus infection of life so far, yes. And god bless Paris - You can walk into a place, get a chest scan, and within an hour you've been shown around your own x-ray. The technician explains it to YOU yourself, there's not this secret society where you must wait for the doctor to call you, - oh, maybe two or three days later to tell you you do or do not have pneumonia.


Cue biblical cloud/sun burst....


We also have pretty pictures of the labyrinthine mess that constitutes my husband's sinuses. "Operate or this will keep happening," they say. Joyeux Noel!

Cue Nice Big Bottle of wine... for ME of course because husband is on the antibiotics of all time!


1000 euro wings in a window.


C'est la vie. I am in Paris. I've had uninterrupted time to work for two whole days. First time in a very very long time. This is good. And i've found in a big blue folder that my mother labeled "this folder to go to Jonatha... eventually...PRIVATE" - letters, photos, treasures!!

jb about 6


jb not too long after that!


mother, son, sunday, st. sulpice


And then, there was Sunday, they were everywhere - sons, daughters, their parents. Often it's just the mums - they always seem to outlive the dads - And it is more than poignant.