Grief comes in very huge packages
Tell me, what are the odds of a blogger posting entries about the passing away of a loved one twice in a row? It's practically nil, right. That was what I thought until I realized I have not blogged anything since my friend's, Arlene's, death. Now, I have to post this painful entry over the loss of my mother and realized I am wrong. But then, I have been wrong all the time about my mother's passing. You see, she has been suffering from alzheimer's and arthritis a long time that I thought the news of her death would not come as a surprise to me anymore. She's 87 years old, did nothing else but lie on her bed or sat on her wheelchair. She would not recognize anyone, much more, me, who could only come on Sundays for a visit.
My eldest sister would often call the house to tell me our mother has been looking for that bald, big man sitting by the tv. She can only surmise it was me she was talking about. Who really knew?
At any rate, that morning of the 23rd still came as a shock as I received a text message from my nephew that my mom has gone. I immediately went to her home in Marikina to find out what happened. She was no longer there. My only brother has taken her to the morgue. It was my sister and her grandchildren who greeted me. They were waking her up and she would not respond. They tried everything to revive her to no avail.
It was a long wait. My nieces and nephews and their families started to come and we all helped in cleaning the house for her arrival.
I couldn't find the tears when she arrived. I watched her peacefully lying in her coffin assuring myself that that was the way to go. Die in my sleep. No struggles, no painful goodbyes. We have been deprived of a memory of a doting mother, strong-willed, assuring for a very long time. She was deprived of her dignity, being bathed, clothed with diapers which probably irritated her as she continuously divested of them in spite of our incessant demands not to. She was tied in the hospital or she'd hurt herself getting rid of the dextrose, tubes stuck in her nose to feed her.
And yet, during the interment, it finally hit me. She will no longer be with us and she's buried six feet below the ground. Nobody could ever go away from there. The coffin entombed in sealed cement and buried with thick dirt. I cried. The person I loved most, the person that brought me into this world, the person that cared and nurtured me is no more. All I have left are memories of a distant past. Memories of me growing-up, being taken in front of the tv and fed with landing airplane spoons just so I would eat my food, being taken to and from school, watching plays I was a part of, a memory of a loving, responsible mother, who did her very best to rear her children the only way she knew how. Memories of my teen-aged years which were barely a parent's pride. How I wish alzheimer's did not touch my mother that robbed her of her dignity, her pride. She was robbed of her talent for cooking, baking and all that stuff that mothers loved to do. My only consolation was, she probably did not realize how much in pain she was in. It would have been more painful knowing her children suffered with her.
When she arrived in her coffin, I thought the box was too small. Her legs were bent like as if she was made to fit the coffin. And then I remembered, even her toes were bent. Her toes were all curled up, the big toes landed on top of the other toes and yes, her legs were bent that way causing her too much pain everytime we straightened them up. If you could bear with me for much longer, I would like to share two poems I wrote (not the only ones, you know) about my mother as a tribute to her.
A STRANGER IN HER OWN HOUSE
She wouldn’t have minded
the stranger for he feeds her,
helps her bathe and dresses her up,
puts talcum powder on her back
But he ties her hands…
Moves her every two hours
just when she is about to fall
asleep. Says he has to
or she will wound herself scratching
her itchy body. Her healing wounds
feel like a thousand ants
crawling, biting, nibbling her flesh.
He may look nice.
But he ties her hands…
She wonders who he is.
He seems to know everyone.
Talks to them, laughs and tells jokes.
By her count, there are at least
five adults, two children
and a frequent visitor.
And he ties her hands…
“Who are these people?”
she wonders. They say this is her house
she sleeps on her own bed
eats off her own plate,
but strange as it may seem
she feels she is
a stranger in her own house
Is She Really?
This is where alzheimer finally takes me.
My mother - alone in her bed
with neither memory nor care.
She is nothing but a shell
fleshy mollusk meat gone
the soup down to the last gulp.
Like the debris found in the morning
of a full night's revelry
confetti strewn thick on the pavement
amid trash of firecracker paper.
A birdcage without the bird
or a flower without the scent.
This is what she finally seemed to be
With probing eyes and withered hands
she held my face!
Nay, goodbye for now and always remember, I love you very much!!!