Four visits to my mother’s deathbed

ViolettNormally, I think of something to write about here, knock off about five hundred words, and post it a few days later. I might change the odd word, maybe even add a sentence, but it goes out more or less the same. Four Visits to my Mother’s Deathbed is a projected longer piece of writing, more complex than I usually attempt. I want to make more than one draft, and more than tinker with the layout. It is a big subject for me. I was present when my mother died of cancer in 1996. She had had breast cancer seven years before, then bowel cancer, and finally liver cancer did for her: when they found chemotherapy was inhibiting growth of the tumour but not reducing it, she stopped chemotherapy.

Twice since then in a therapeutic or personal growth setting I have been taken back there, and the experience was different. She stopped in 1996, her life was a whole, but I carried on changing and growing, as did my understanding of her and attitude to her.

I want to write of the experience as it was, who I was then, and how I saw her; then of going back, and why, how I had changed and how my perception had changed; and finally making a new visit, how that could be and what it could mean. Themes interlink, and change subtly. How can I avoid repeating myself? Should I write chronologically or start in some other way? Creating a draft is exploring what happened, and also exploring who I am: I may change while writing, and want to capture that. I have changed and I want to express that. Should I interweave my visits or deal with one at a time?

I have just written a sketch for a fourth visit- what might going back look like now? What might I want from it? What meaning might it have? After writing that, I realise that imagining it for that sketch is different from doing it.

My goal is a complex piece of writing about four times in my life and my relationship with my mother who lives on in my mind, still forming me. Even writing it may change me. It is in response to the writing 201 challenge.

Sketch 1

Garden of Love II rightI pick up your hand, and pay attention. I caress your finger tips. If you notice me, respond! You breathe lightly and quietly. I notice no response.

-Go back a day!
-No, this moment too is precious-
I would like you to know I am here. I would like you to know I love you. I would like you to know that I admire you, and care about you- everything to build you up, everything to make you happy. There is nothing to fear, now, what’s past is gone, but it too, now, may be beautiful for you. It was alright, really, even then, even when the rain lashed down and you gritted your teeth and put your head down and trudged on- though others saw the sunshine, and danced.

I would like- nothing. I would like this moment, now, while it is, while you breathe and I am here with you. Each human being is a beautiful thing. There is no ideal for skin, no perfection excluding others, for all is perfect: wrinkled dry skin is all it needs to be. We have managed you as you might like: we changed the pad under you, and the covers are neat, not too heavy, warm enough, the sheet ironed. I am glad your hand is above the covers. It is so beautiful, the bruises cannot disfigure it.

Garden of Love II leftI would like it to respond. Some answering pressure. This has to be enough, but-

Go back a day. It is your birthday, and Dad has a dozen red roses in the vase on the windowsill. Go back a day, because I can, because this time is mine, in my control. I see you and not you. I can make of you anything I like, any response, and I can respond in the most perfect manner, for this is that time in bed when the perfect repartee comes too late- no, analysing the job interview with a view to answering better next time- or, healing the past, for though it is too late to heal your hurt it is not too late to heal my own. So as little fantasy as possible: you as real as I may imagine or remember you, though of course there are the bits I shy away from, perhaps without knowing it.

We are alone, for Dad has reasons to be elsewhere, and Elaine is with her children who are too young to be here much. It is just you and me. Now, several things happen, at once. I take your hand, and you give mine a light squeeze- we are both holding hands, both here, now. A tear escapes your eye. I kiss you. All is Love. Or there is an imperfection, something for me to regret or resent, for part of Everything is Perfect is the effort, the reconstruction, the acceptance, the seeing, and these are not easy or instantaneous. Or there is again no response- I think there was little response by then. I have all the time I need.

Picture by metmuseum.

The Truth

Kandinsky- Free curve to the point- accompanying sound of geometric curvesWhy did I blog about Creationists, anyway? Because I loathe them.

We assess the evidence from a different philosophical basis, they say. We have a right to disagree. Perhaps. But they have no right to teach a wildly distorted view of the evidence, ignoring all the detail (which accumulates at an increasing rate) refuting them, considering only disputes and uncertainties. Possibly The Truth may be found; certainly it may be approximated; they run from it, and do all they can to obscure it.

Truth is my friend, and lies will destroy me. What matters most to me is the truth about myself, whether I am in any sense female, who I am, how I really respond when my responses are not suppressed. And why. So I blogged on homosexuality because of lies about human worth and human drives which forced round pegs into square holes, just as I had been forced. The basic lie is that (some or all) humans are dangerous and must be controlled.

I find truth in my religion, but my religion is practice, attitude, relationship, not belief. (Not even that one- sometimes it’s “way of being, not dogma”.) Understandings, moral or practical, are contingent and relative, for the moment, ready to be amended or dropped as necessary.


Truth is whatever I imagine it to be.