The sun is shining, the traffic is light and the moon roof is open while I listen to Tom Petty’s latest as I cruise the levee road making my way to visit Mom. My mind wanders back to moments Mom and I have shared over the years.
I’m the third of four daughters. And each one of my siblings is so very different from the other. My sisters all have their similarities to Mom and their own shared experiences with her. Mom and I bonded over books. She’s been a voracious reader her entire life; even now at age 86. I learned from her early in life of the beauty of books and their ability to transport one to another time and place.
Later in life she began to write….and write…and write. Poems mostly. And they poured out of her like aged wine into a thirsty goblet.
Planets whirl in their ordained paths,
Singing as they move through the blue night of space,
And their music shapes all that it touches.
In the realm of stars, in the galaxies’ glow,
All of creation is rimmed with radiant light,
And celestial music hums through the universe.
I can only tremble in exaltation
As vibration after vibration touches my soul
And I, too, become part of the splendor of the light.
Mom has had many challenges in her life. My father was disabled for most of their marriage. And while he was fiercely independent, the necessities of his condition, coupled with his hot Italian temper, made for many difficult days. I think writing became an escape for her and she tended those words quietly, nurturing them along in their development until they’d matured and spilled onto the page.
Spirit touches the dry tinder of a soul that is withering away in fear,
and some sparks flicker briefly as a puff of smoke rises slowly
upward. A tiny flame licks at its boundaries. Fed by the soft winds
of love, it continues to burn as the fire flares and then burns
steadily until only sooty ashes remain.
Please, Father, let this be creative suffering.
I recall countless trips to the library with her as a child and being taught how to use the card index systems to find my desired book until I was proficient enough to tackle the massive stacks of cards without assistance. I recall our discussions of books over the years that my book club has read and then passing them on to her. And when she lowered her head to write letters to politicians she didn’t agree with, or city council members who didn’t always have their townspeople’s best interest at heart I applauded her.
All these thoughts flood my head as I pull in to her parking lot. I gather up an armful of new books for her to read and my latest photo album to update her on the doings of my children and grandchildren and walk the hallway to her room.
“Hi, Mom,” I call out in greeting as I walk through her door. Blank eyes meet my gaze as confusion covers her face.
“I don’t know who you are,” says the woman who once lived with me for the better part of a year.
“It’s ok, Mom, it’s me, your daughter. Look, I brought you some new books to read.”
The blue eyes light up. “Oh! I love to read.”
I watch as she picks up the offered book and pages through it, grateful that she still has this to enjoy in her life, even though her comprehension has decreased significantly. The mere act of reading, eyes skimming over words on page, still brings her pleasure. Thank God. I settle into the chair and begin what has become routine: answering the same question over and over again as if it was new each time. And my mind drifts back…..