Thursday, November 21, 2013

Throw Back Thursday: To Honour My Mother

Yesterday I did a "hump day" piece.  Something lighter than the usual heavy workplace abuse stuff.  After all, our diets don't consist of all meat or potatoes.  We need a variety of foods to tempt the palate.  Like dessert.  Dessert is good.  Very good.

On Facebook, I've seen pictures labelled TBT and couldn't figure out what they were all about.  Eventually, with trembling fingers touching the keyboard, I asked.  TBT stands for Throw Back Thursday.  I like the idea.  So today I'm doing a TBT piece.  My idea is to start using old postings and bring them up to the front on Thursdays; however, this particular post was originally written well over a year ago, while my mother was still alive - and never finished.  Never posted.  This was when I still used the moniker "Mama Bear" and so my mother was called "Matriarch Bear".

 Matriarch Bear passed away on August 24, 2012 so this phase of my life has ended.  Yet, I feel compelled as I begin writing my blog to start where I left off.  To share the preciousness of those moments in the seniors' residence with my own Matriarch bear.
Matriarch Bear's 97th birthday
with one of her great granddaughters and my sibling bear

 Visiting with Matriarch Bear for a week in the seniors' residence reminds me a lot of when, as a child, my family and I would travel to North Carolina to see the grandbears.  Both sets of bears had their dens in the same area.  One in the city. One in the country.  The grandbears in the city had a small apartment.  Mom and Dad got the one and only bed.  My grandbears got the pull-out couch in the den.  Sibling Bear and I suffered on blankets thrown on the hard floor to make a pallet.  I guess they didn't have inflatable mattresses in those days (back in the 1950s).  But the warm, welcoming atmosphere made up for the nighttime physical discomfort.  Bedtime was an anticipated treat as my grandmother would come in and do dramatic recitations of poems from a book called Silver Pennies.  To this day, I can still remember vividly the sound of her knocking on the wall followed by the words:  "Whose knocking on my wee, small door?  I opened.  I looked.  From left to right.  But naught was astirring in the dark, dark night."  As I'm writing this from memory more than half a century after the fact, I realize that I don't have all the words verbatim.  But the memory.  Ahhhh, the memory.  That lives on.

The gardens at Matriarch Bear's residence
This set of grandparents were what would now, in this cookie cutter age, be called eccentric.  Even then, they definitely walked to a different drummer.  Creative.  Smart.  Talented in many areas.  My grandmother in writing (wonder where I get my passion for writing from).  My grandfather an architectural engineer.  An amateur photographer. 

My young world consisted of being loved.  Accepted.  Pet names.  Classical music always playing on the hi fi my grandfather had built.  Cocktail hour for the grownups.  With marachino cherries and orange slices in gingerale for my sibling and myself.

A time filled not with TV, DVDs (which didn't exist in those days), but with good, old-fashioned conversation.  Walking trips to get the daily newspaper.  Going for an ice cream was a real treat.  Driving around with Grandfather Bear pointing out the window showing us homes he had designed and the unique challenges of each one. Listening to the stories. Camaraderie   A linking of the generations together.  Feeling the love.

This scene on the porch of Matriarch Bear's residence is
reminescent to me of the scene at my grandbears home in the country
Always someone sitting on the porch in a wicker chair.  Waiting.  To welcome us home.
Family  There were always members of the extended family there at the old home place.  Aunts.  Uncles. Cousins.  A great uncle lived there for a time.  Cousins visiting.  Always someone else there.  Always an adventure.  Something to look forward to.

Fast forward approximately five decades and now the daughter is going to visit her own mother who life has spanned more than nine decades.  The Matriarch now lives in assisted living in her own little apartment.  She is provided with meals and medications.  Also on-call staff if there is an emergency.  Her life has downsized a lot in the last two decades of her life as frailty brought on by aging,  a heart condition and COPD makes inroads into this once very active, determined woman.  Oh, she's still got a lot of determination.  Just not a lot of activity.  She is fragile physically.  Has trouble breathing even though she's on oxygen 24/7.  Yet, the core of her essence remains.  She can still beat anyone at a daily game of Yahtzee.  On Bingo day, she's at her walker and on her way down stairs (via elevator now when once she would have eschewed the conveyance and trooped on down).

The aunts and uncles of long ago are long gone.  But in their place has come a precious assortment of surrogate aunts and uncles.  Those who live in the residence.  Like those who have gone before, these precious oldsters have claimed a piece of my heart.

I read in a book entitled Surviving Life's Crises (or something like that) that there are secondary losses when a loved one dies.  In my case, some of the secondary losses are the visits to the seniors' residence when Matriarch Bear lived, my daily round through the dining room to greet and chit chat with the residents (my surrogate aunts and uncles).  These people will always hold a place in my heart.

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