My sister-in-law snapped this photo of mom nuzzling with her granddaughter on New Year’s Day.
Mostly I see this journey with my mom as one of loss and discovery–a process of winnowing down and of slowly leaving.
Until the times when it isn’t.
It amazes me that there is still an opportunity to be surprised. There are still things that give you hope, that fill up your heart, that give you the energy to stay in it.
My mom started feeding herself again.
By last summer someone was feeding her every meal. She didn’t have the coordination to take the spoon and feed herself from the plate. I remember the neurologist describing that as a sign of late stages. She said, “Things like using a fork to feed yourself is a very complicated thing. It requires several parts of your brain to work together to make it happen. We just take that for granted.” So when my mom stopped feeding herself, it seemed like another mile marker or the road of loss.
Our momsitter, who is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, said in late fall, “I’m going to start working with your mom to see if I can get her to feed herself.”
So she did. The kitchen switched her meals to small round bowls that mom could easily grip and hold. Our momsitter worked with her during each meal. She would prompt mom, give her cues, and nudge her hand toward her mouth. And slowly she began to feed herself again.
It is a journey of loss and discovery. It’s also a journey of surprises. I think about the loss. I think about discovering how to cope with what’s missing. I forget about the surprises. The surprises are really, really important, because the surprises are a vaccination of hope and joy that help you deal with the loss and the discovery.