Today, Mom is resting on a hospital bed. She is under the spell of Haldol and Morphine. She is, finally, placid.
Last night, my brother, Dad, friend, and I spent the night getting her up – which now involves lifting her to her feet and sliding her over to a portable toilet – and then laying her down. Over and over and over again. We are tired. We have wept.
The fatigue and tears were for the pain that we could not relieve, for the restlessness that we could not sooth, for the questions she could not answer.
As Mom shuffled her feet back and forth from bed to bathroom last night, I thought of my grandmother, a woman not easily loved by most, including her own daughter and grandchildren, but a woman loved nonetheless. As I watched my brother lift Mom each time, I remembered my mom lifting her mom in the same way. I saw the same shuffling gait. I love my grandmother more because of those early morning shuffled dances in the steps before dawn.
When I see her lying in bed still and breathing deep, I am reminded more and more of my great-grandmother, her grandmother. She was not a woman I knew well until near the end of her life when she came to live with us for a few years. But in the slackness of Mom’s face and in the sharp angles of the bones that I now see beneath her skin, I see Great-Grandma. I think Mom would like that.
There is such grace in all of this. Painful, ragged, generations-old grace.