I want to memorialize a memory.
It was a few months before mom passed (August or September, 2014 I suppose). She had been getting better in some ways (or so we thought), but also getting worse in others. She was having a lot of trouble breathing (Stage 4 Cancer in her lungs). It scared her a lot and it scared me a lot, too, but I tried not to let on. She was afraid of coming downstairs from her little room on the second floor, because she dreaded the trip back up the stairs, during which she became tired and out of breath. I really wanted to bring her outside for some fresh air, but the best I could coax her to do was come down the first half of the stairs. There is a small landing in the middle of the stairway that holds a bench, some plants, and a couple of windows through which gentle light casts itself over the living room downstairs.
She had one hand on the railing and one hand in mine and she gingerly came through the doorway, and walked very slowly down, one foot in front of the other. I had to remind myself not to hurry her. Sometimes, I get used to the busyness of life and I automatically try to make everything faster and more efficient. This was not needed at that period in time. Mom didn’t need speed, tension, or stress. She needed peace, serenity, quiet reassurance.
Mom looked out the windows and smiled at the sun. She liked my suggestion of going halfway. I didn’t want to push her. She wanted to sit and rest on the bench, and I let her. Her back was to the windows and she looked out over the rooms downstairs. She could see the front door and the porch outside where she used to like to lie down and relax. I think she sat on that landing for almost an hour. A few visitors came by. One friend sang and played a song on guitar at her request, and I followed. I held the guitar over my pregnant belly and sang a few songs she loved including As The Deer. I asked her to play and sing. She didn’t seem to have the energy to sing; she just strummed a tune or two and put the guitar down. I love my parents for giving me the gift of song.
My playful 1 year old scooted over and sat next to Grandma. They smiled and laughed, and I took pictures. Mom muttered a few words to him, but mostly just gazed at him adoringly. She patted my son’s back gently and grasped his little hands. He giggled and squealed, and beamed at her. He stood so that his face was just level with hers. Mom didn’t seem afraid. She seemed calmer than normal. I think he helped her forget. She liked to say she strove for “simple elegance”. She was simply elegant in that moment.