Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Stranger in the Mirror

It didn’t feel right… something just didn’t add up…  It was just not how it used to be... how it used to feel.  Pulling the comb through that frizzy, tightly curled hair is somehow still familiar.  The application of make-up is long in the past.  This powder blue make up case hasn’t been pulled out for at least a year and a half.  Memories are blurry and only show up every now and again, but only as bits and pieces and don’t make a lot of sense.  Catching that flaw is not easy to admit.  Understanding the change is not much fun at all.  Looking in the mirror only makes one wonder who that stranger in the mirror is, looking back.  Certainly isn’t a familiar face.  A stranger really… should I introduce myself?

She has so many stories to tell… so many experiences to share… so much advice to give… but the brain just keeps scrambling the stories and they just keep coming out so wrong.  Giving up… not wanting to tell anymore… no more humiliation of that old age.  Knowing people like Howard Hughes in person, having driven in his car many times and remembering that he was an anal person, yet carried a distinctive and not so pleasant odor is just not all coming back to the fullest.  Remembering that the family came here from England to Connecticut and then on to Yuma is only a blur.  The smile that automatically forms when seeing the turquoise jewelry that was made by the family with the help by real Indians, is only short lived.  Knowing that the first husband’s hands where involved in building one of Americas monuments, the Hoover Damn, is of no proud recollection anymore.  Even that the last husband worked on the Space Shuttles, beginning with the very first one, has very little, if any, meaning today.  And those boxes full of old photographs are nothing more than black little squares as the eyesight is a long departed friend.

It used to be so easy getting out of bed.  It used to be no thought at all which shoe goes on what foot.  There was never a question of what kind of food was preferred.   It used to be a weekly activity to sit at the white round table in the kitchen near the sink and write long letters of the weekly occurrences to stay in contact with family and friends all around America.  Using the phone to call friends and check to make sure they don’t need any help.  These days the mailbox is empty and collecting dust.  The phone hasn’t rung in a long time.  Visitors are scarce.  Friendships are a long gone memory as she is the only survivor of her own past.  All four husbands have past and the last is a heartfelt and very seldom thought without any relating feelings.

All these years;  88 years… building memories only to forget them.  Only to not recall how warm she felt in the comfort of her husbands.  The joy she had raising two children.  The pain she felt when her son died way before his time.  The fun that was felt deep into the bones when competing in ballroom dancing.  The likings of movies with Alan Ladd.   All these wonderful memories are lost in time,  never to be remembered with joy by her.   The question “was it a nice life?” or “was it all worth it” can never be answered by her…this woman who does not recognize her own reflection in the mirror.

[I wrote this blog three years ago about Lewis' Grandma.  Today, she is turning 91 and the words in this blog have not changed for the better.   Today, remembering is not at all a task for her.  Today, she rather confuses the past with the present.  Her short term memory no longer a good friend to her at all and her long term memory shrinking to something that even her daughter has a hard time making sense of.   We will go, as every year, to celebrate her birthday.  It’s not easy to look into her eyes, wishing her a happy birthday, when the meaning for her for an occasion such as this means nothing at all anymore.   She will eat the cake, give us a smile and then insist on going back to bed.    She is clearly a case of “When the organs outlive the mind”.   Today, however, I raise my glass and wish her a Happy Birthday!]


  1. Happy Birthday to her, and cheers to you, my friend. I smile, and think of tomato plants and memories so close...

    You are missed...

  2. Patrick -- let me assure you, you are missed as well. Tomatoes and the moon is what makes me think of you all the time.. all the time... shall we go hike up a top a mountain and enjoy the clear night sky? thank you for stopping by, my dear Patrick ;-)

  3. Let us all raise a glass to her... I so remember what that is like, my father-in-law, rest his soul... even though it was more than ten years ago... had that far away look in his eyes, and you could just tell that nothing registered with him... so sad that life goes on inside a shell, even after the living has ceased... but, who knows what they are really experiencing... all we can do is continue to serve them and take care of them.

    Thank you for this... I remember the first time you posted it... sad, and poignant, yet a very loving tribute to a fine woman...

  4. Oh bless her cotton socks - she sounds lovely...

    wish her a good one from me!

    XOXO as always,


  5. Somewhere inside her its all there and she sees everything clear as day but is to busy adding new memories to recall the old until the time comes and they all come rushing back to her.
    Happy Birthday to her and i hope she loved the cake

  6. I think we should raise a couple of glasses. Count me in.

  7. Tom; Wifey; Walker; Liam --- thank you all for your wishes. She was somewhat alert yesterday. Didn't remember us, but she did have a great sense of humor. As long as she is laughing, things are alright, right?

  8. Happy happy birthday..... how could she possibly not enjoy the day when she has YOU to help her remember.

    Lovely post... :)


  9. Mary -- i miss hanging out here during the anywhoooo .. she did have a moment of laughter with us which was wonderful to see. Especially after hearing how much she is falling all the time lately. Huge bruise on her forehead :-( .. I need to find a doctor who can explain to me the condition she currently shows. She repeats the last word of her sentence 3 times.. i know that the lack of potassium can make one substitute words with just a letter.. but that's not the case here... i can't find anything that will explain that..ggrrr. Know a doctor by chance?? ;-)

  10. I am really sorry to hear that she is falling a lot... I know a surgeon in Denver... I've never even heard of that kind of behaviour. Will you keep me posted?

    and.. as far as hanging out... your friends, will be here.... when you can make it... I keep telling you that! :)))


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