She died in September, a small and scrawny old woman with short white hair, beautiful skin and my eyes. We had partnered up for the last years of her life because in the end she knew that she needed me. I didn’t know until those last 3 years that I needed her too. Oil and water we were. I was the daughter she would have never expected to be her caretaker, but we worked it out.
When she finally realized that I was not only her daughter but her friend, she began to talk, and because I was with her so much we talked about everything from her old boyfriends, her fears, her regrets and her most wonderful moments, how much she had wanted to be a music conductor and how much she hated to vacuum. We covered the subjects of her life and I would take notes. When she began to have dementia we planned parties as a tool to help her memory. I would ask her who to invite to the party so that she would name her friends, and then we would plan the menu.
Near her death the dementia often came in forms of hallucinations and I would go to sit with her in the night holding onto her hand and feeling the pulse of her heart beating so fast. She could not sleep unless i was there, but I would know when her grip loosened that she was finally rested. God prepared me for the call I received saying that she had suffered a massive stroke and that she would not live through the week.
The medics brought her back into her room on a Friday afternoon and she looked as pale as the faded rose on the bush in the courtyard garden, the one we pruned, and fertilized. It was as if it felt her spirit leaving . I did all I could that week to encourage her to open her eyes and talk to me. I just knew that she was able to hear me and would respond if I said just the right words.
Let me tell you a story about a little girl who grew up in Oxford, Mississippi who played the piano, loved Beethovan and gave up her dreams to dedicate her life to her family stop.