Friday, January 13, 2012


         My days often stretch long and lonely. I pace myself through the routines demanded by my mother’s disease, trying to avoid wistfully watching the clock. My conversations with Mom center on a television show or movie. The political antics of our GOP candidates provide fodder for wry commentary from both of us, and for that I am thankful. Mom’s analysis of the governor who recently pardoned prisoners, including murderers, boiled down to three words, “He is crazy.”
         No one ever calls during the day, and I’m afraid I’ll start taking phone surveys just to hear voices other than the ones in my head. I imagined a different retirement filled with daily walks, extreme gardening, and voracious reading. Even though I knew my mother would eventually move in with us after I stopped teaching, I never predicted the restrictions upon my life caring for her would cause. When she first moved in, she tolerated my doing a little yard work. She didn’t mind it if I talked to a friend on the phone. She spent time on her own in the little sitting room we set up for her that includes her furniture from her apartment. I could venture out on a quick run to the grocery store or run the dogs to the park.
Many of my friends no longer come by to spend the evening like they used to do. I think my mother’s illness makes them feel too uncomfortable. The two or three who have visited bring me so much delight as they share bits of their lives with me. I cling to their words and bits of insight during the long days when I see or talk to no one other than my husband and son. I have one friend who lives in another state, and we shoot several emails back and forth in one day, almost like a slow motion conversation. Some days, these written correspondences are my main contact with someone outside of this house.
         I remember a time when my days, overstuffed with the demands of students, parents and administrators, seemed unbearably cramped with people and noise. Longing for solitude, I’d turn down the lights in my classroom during my conference period and surround myself in silence. Now, I yearn for the spirited and unfettered banter of friends.
         Now, I spend my days either sitting on the couch in the family room within Mom’s sight line, or just around the corner on my laptop. My laptop “visitations” never last longer than five minutes because I’ll hear her growing restless. I won’t waste my time complaining because I feel thankful that we can provide the one-on-one care that someone suffering from Huntington’s disease requires. I know, without a doubt, that my mother’s condition would deteriorate immediately if she lived anywhere else. Feeling confined within my house for a few years will never compare to the trap my mother deals with each and every day.

Flowers from Renee and Adrienne!

Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

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