Friday, February 01, 2008
No unfinished business
I've been in New York all week sitting at my Mom's bedside in the same hospital where I was born. She is busy at the work of dying. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon. I think she is satisfied that she has no unfinished business. Then again she could fool us all and be imperiously bossing her way around the nursing home by Spring but I think not. My sisters and brother have been with her round the clock because she gets anxious and disoriented if left alone despite the best efforts of the nursing staff. I spent my shifts talking with her and doing a lot of hand stitching on this piece, more than I expected to. More slow cloth, the stitches marking out the moments as they passed. My Dad was well enough to visit with her one afternoon and she spoke to him on the phone the next day briefly.These days she always ends her conversations with "I love you." Northern Westchester is a wonderful facility and with a retired postal worker's medical insurance, she's getting the kind of treatment usually reserved for movie stars. Christopher Reeve, Superman himself, lived his last days right down the hall from her room. There is art on the walls everywhere. This installation by Kim Tamalonis is across from the main elevators on the Lobby floor. At first I thought they were glazed tiles but on closer inspection each element is a separate canvas. It's called "The One That Got Away". Much thought has been given to the needs of caretakers here. There is a center where they can go and rest, have a snack, use the internet. There's a massage chair great for having spent the night sleeping in an upright chair and a quiet room with deep leather chairs and waterfalls on the wall. There is a baby grand piano just outside the doors of these rooms and a talented man was playing something from the Standards songbook, I forget exactly what but it felt appropriate. Somehow it didn't feel right to luxuriate there but the music was enchanting.I guess I haven't been at the caretaker thing long enough. Meanwhile,upstairs, Rosalie was sleeping peacefully for the first time since I arrived. I got home to Georgia late last night and my Mom goes back to the nursing home for Hospice care today. Many thanks to all the kind folks who are thinking about us and helping first hand with this, Life's final project.