I found the book, one day, just where she had left it — in her lovely white wicker chair, next to her bed with the yellow and white flowered quilt. “Waiting For Autumn”. It was, most likely, the last book my mom held, the last book she tried to read, her place still marked. She would have run her fingers over the embossed decorative cover, contemplating the dragonfly printed there. I pictured her squinting, eyes watering, trying to make out the blurred words. I wonder if she liked what she read? I wonder if it made her dream? She had picked up this book, from my sofa by the window, on one of her visits and started reading it. I gave it to her to take home. So when I came across it a few years ago, while we were packing up her bedroom, I needed to have it back. It was, most likely, the last book my mom tried to read, the last book she held.
Recently, I watched the Glen Campbell documentary “I’ll Be Me”. Glen Campbell has Alzheimer’s and is still able to play and sing beautiful music. This starts me wondering about life, and old age, and Alzheimer’s. I see, in his story, how he is still “in there” — still himself in the middle of a disease that steals. And in his story, I see my mom’s story too. There are days when she is her old self — joking, or giving advice filled with wisdom. Then, there are those days when she isn’t capable of getting out of bed, or forming words that have meaning, and we wonder where “she” has gone to. But I have learned that, in all of this, there is still a life and there is a death. My sisters and I attempt to take from each day what is given and we cry over that which is lost. When our dad died from cancer, we went through it together the best we knew how. We are challenged now, my sisters and I, to face this head-on, through the tears and the sadness. We try to go through this mist, where one day we can touch her with words and memories, while other days her world is out of reach. But, as with our dad, it’s the love, and the memory of love, that sustains us — all the way through the valleys and up the mountains.