Beyond recycling – using your tablecloth for expressing the moment!
Cute baby in a high chair
poised like a CEO
at the head of the table
all eyes upon her,
or is it a boy?
Dark blue sleeves
rolled up over a white shirt.
Then I notice
the receding hairline
and wonder –
How old is this soul,
grabbing for the pint glass?
It was August 1992, and my mother was nearing the end of her battle with lung cancer. This was the day my Dad and I got a prescription filled for morphine. There was a hospital bed in the room where she used to sit for hours in her recliner. We took turns sleeping on the sofa near her, and, on this night, the two way intercom crackled on in my room with my Dad’s call for help. She had gotten off the bed to use the portable potty, and then slumped over. We think she had a small stroke, and we helped get her back lying down. I asked if she wanted to start the morphine, and, being unable to speak (something new for her!) she shook her head “No” emphatically. Her strong will remained – she did not want to start taking that drug.
After Dad went back to bed, I asked her if she wanted me to play the violin. She nodded gently, “Yes,” and I played Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring and a couple more beautiful, relaxing tunes.
In the morning, Dad was on the phone to Hospice to find out how best to care for her now that she was not conscious. I noticed that her breathing was slowing and Dad got off the phone. We held her hands, said our goodbyes, and watched as her chest moved less and less until it stopped.
Her last volitional act had been nodding to have me play the violin! And despite her great fear of a horrible choking death as her lungs failed, she passed peacefully away with no suffering at all.
This experience still radiates joy to me for two reasons – that even someone who struggled in life can be blessed with a peaceful death, and, by showing up even in difficult situations, I can let the moment guide me to find appropriate and inspirational modes of expression.
Taken in May 1983. My mother and my son enjoy blowing bubbles.