Life is full of cycles. Nature moves that way.
Like a young child my mother often does not have the words that she needs. She is unable to move on her own (in fact, she cannot even get out of bed anymore). She wears adult diapers because she is bedridden. She is dependent upon others to feed and bathe her. She sometimes does not know who the people around her are, she can’t remember who is living and who is dead, and she sees things that others do not see. At times it can be hard to see her like that. She was the provider when we were babies. She was the strong woman and our protector when we were children. To see her so incapacitated, knowing how strong she has been her entire life, can be so hard.
Yet, there is life in her eyes. She still smiles and enjoys what life there is for her. She accepts her condition with grace. None of us can know what is really in her mind because her ability to share those kinds of things is limited these days, at least to us. My mother has several stuffed animals that have become her friends. She talks to them and they understand her better than I do. They come to her every day and watch over her and it makes her happy that they care so much. There is a certain kind of joy in this. Like a child with an imaginary friend or a favorite Teddy bear these things comfort her and make her life so much easier. We accept these things in children. Why can’t we accept them in adults?
Most of us are so worried about our jobs, families, and making ends meet that we have little to no time for our imaginations. At some point in our growing up we let go of the Teddy bears and comfort blankets. We take on a seriousness and a stoicism that gets us through the difficult days of adulthood, but I think we lose something in the process. It is very young children and very old men and women, as well as some of those with what are called mental issues, and perhaps a handful of others, who are not bound by what most of us consider reality. They can talk with stuffed animals, they can see things that we can’t see, they can talk with those who are no longer here. They accept a reality that the rest of us cannot see or even begin to comprehend.
I have often worried about losing my mental faculties. When I can’t come up with the right word or I can’t remember something I should be able to remember I start to question whether I am in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. I am far less worried about losing physical ability than losing my ability to communicate. But then I look at my mother’s smile and I see a depth in her eyes and I think it may be okay. She is happy and when I look into her eyes she is still there. She is still the same woman who always loved me, and I can see that love resonate from her. I kiss her forehead again and tell her how much I love her. She tells me that she loves me, too, that she always has. I say goodbye to her, and make sure that I say goodbye to her friends as I leave.