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Being With Mum Part.2

Seeing my mum off after her visit was so incredibly difficult.
Over the past few days I have seen her settle into a way of being that I have never seen her inhabit before. I met a new mother in so many ways. It sounds strange but her condition has softened her edges and allowed her to be present in a way that perhaps she was unable to be in the past. I have seen joy, contentment and love in her eyes, as well as the odd bout of confusion or restlessness, but these were few and far between for the most part and when they paid a visit we were able to settle her quickly without too much drama. A quick call to her husband or a nice cup of tea.
I watched as she connected deeply with the force of nature I know as Bonnie, my dearest friend and a very special being. She met my mum at every turn and loved her without a second thought, as if her own. Often she was a trusted companion to my mum where perhaps I couldn't be. Amidst it all my mum's instinct remained to protect my brother and I from any heartbreak or worry and so it would be Bonnie that bridged the gap. My brother and I were always there but conscious of not taking my mum's role from her when it felt important for her to fulfill it.
I was able to be with my mum in a way that, even as best of friends, I had never quite had before. Of course I had the honour and joy of making my mum laugh endlessly, a gift I have always had and value greatly. Actually what was different was the way we connected through touch and silence. Neither my mum nor I were ever particularly tactile people but lately that has changed a great deal for me and it seems it has changed with my mum also. To hold her hand, kiss her head, stroke her as she fell asleep, to hug her with all my might (without crushing her as she is tiny) meant the world to me. It was such a beautiful way to connect with her. I wonder if we lack this physical connection with our parents as we grow older and if so, why? Somehow our roles become too rigid and get in the way.
We also just sat in silence for a period each morning. Not deliberately but naturally. Nothing to say. Just being. It was so powerfully alive. Cradling each other gently and lovingly.
My mum would then ask me to put on a record so I would pick out some old Motown or Stax record to listen to together, igniting memories of when these records originally came out. She sang along to songs that she perhaps hadn't heard in years. Carefree and in no way self conscious.
I often played the role of 'the forgetful one' to put her at ease when she had misplaced something. She would become fixated on finding the object, be it the toothbrush, her earrings or phone. I would always interject with an apology and tell her that I had moved them to keep them safe and forgot where I'd put them. She even once joked that I had a memory like a sieve. Eventually I would find them and all was well again. It made her feel safe and that was my only job.
I found Bonnie's ways with my mum to be so insightful and wise. When I thanked her she would say 'I didn't do anything' and in many ways this is true, she didn't. She just was. She didn't need to do it because it was so deeply intuitive to her. It was an ease of being that she couldn't even take credit for. She just loved effortlessly. A truly beautiful skill that we might take lifetimes to achieve.
My mum even bonded with Bonnie's cats. They would sense her lack of ease around animals but would get closer and closer so as not to alarm her or upset her. The knew on some level to be mindful around my mum. By the end of the week one of them would curl up on her lap and love her without asking anything of her. Yet another gift. This was quite a turnaround from the beginning of the week.
Another credit to Bonnie was her son, my godson, Archie. At 10 years old he was so wonderful with my mum. Totally aware of the circumstances and yet in no way awkward or uneasy. He hugged her every day when he got home from school, he made her laugh, cooked her dinner, and acted with such a profound maturity and compassion. He treated her like a human being where, quite frankly, we tend to define people by their condition. He even called her his god grandmother which made her so happy. Bless him. I was so proud of him.
My brother also was a rock. As always. There's not much I can say about him that I haven't said before. Legend.
This week has taught me so much. I have never known such boundless love. I have been in the presence of God all week. Bathed in a way of being that devoured me whole. Compassion filled my heart, love guided me at each moment. I was present, sturdy, willing. I was alive and totally human. Vulnerable and strong.
This is very much the beginning of a long journey but one that I will embrace and savour.
My waking up and growing up continue.
For everything I have experienced this week I am eternally grateful.
"Dementia totally sucks!
But we can still feel
and it's these beautiful, simple gifts
we have as humans
that can never be taken from us!
Love, laughter and touch.
This is what makes life."
~ Bonnie Telford

<3 <3 <3


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