I have been drafting and revising my mother’s eulogy since she almost died a few years ago. These eulogies were all written in my head as I swam laps in the pool; I never wrote them down. I soon realized that creating a narrative was a writer’s way—my way—of preparing for primal loss.
This week, as I was enjoying some R&R upstate and hoping to do some reading and writing, my mother had a fall and broke two ribs and the femur just above her knee. She is now in the hospital recovering from a small procedure to make her more comfortable and will probably not be able to walk again. In such an old person, immobility is ultimately fatal, and we don’t expect her to live very long though, knowing my mother, she may surprise us.
That said, I feel my mother’s end nearing as I have not before and woke very sad this morning. Being able to communicate this sadness in my journal was helpful. I then put a mini narrative—known as a “status”—up on Facebook and was immediately consoled by comments, prayers and good wishes.
The day moved on. I went for a swim and wrote another eulogy in my head. I was already missing my mother’s phone calls—sometimes three or four a day. Over these past few months we have talked of many things: the opera, the violence in Syria, the upcoming election, her grandchildren. Occasionally, a story would surface that I had never heard before about her childhood and young adulthood in Vienna before the Nazi genocide. Thankfully, these have been mostly happy stories.
During my recent visits I have read my mother poetry, or the newspaper, or chapters from the book her book club is reading. She hasn’t been able to attend for a while, but has kept up in her own way.
My mother had hoped to receive a letter from the President congratulating her on the centennial of her birth on October 21 and even to vote in November by absentee ballot. I know that would mean a lot to her as would a visit from the President, she told me emphatically a week or so ago, if he happens to be in the neighborhood while he is campaigning.