Essaying the Situation
Thursday, January 31, 2002
Mom & Me Begins Again
    It's been two years since I last wrote anything intended for public consumption as a part of this web compendium, "Mom & Me". I can only barely remember why I stopped updating my online material soon after I started. My career as my mother's companion continues. In the interim between the first two columns I wrote and uploaded [Meet Mom & Me and That's Mom, This Is Me] until finally landing here permanently and picking up with this series somewhat further than where I left off, my companionship of my mother has intensified, as has her elderly status and I've continued to write about our experience, despite not uploading my writing.
    Some of the writings have been in the form of letters to friends and relatives. Some have been hurriedly scribbled musings about what is happening in my mother's life and mine while we continue our caregiving adventure. I have, too, written a few essays which will fall into place as I cull, edit and upload more material to this site in the coming weeks. I sense that I will also be adding fresh, to-the-minute commentary as I reflect upon where my mother and I have been and contemplate where we're going. I don't claim to have all the answers nor do I claim to use the answers to some of our problems that "the literature" insists exist. I am not, by nature or practice, a nurturer. My mother, as it turns out, resents determined nurturing. Our attitudes are compatible and we both remain healthy and feisty within the parameters of our individual demographics. This indicates to me that we must be doing something right. Some months ago I began considering that my casual writing and reporting about my life with my mother and hers with me formed a journal of a caretaking experience that in it's particularity might enhance a renewed attempt on the internet to heighten others' awareness of the uniqueness and the universality of their experiences taking care of, and with, elderly loved ones.
    Why did I restart my account? Some time ago I remember telling a friend that I was not pleased with my writing about my caregiving experience with my mother. "It's too yellow, if that makes sense," I recall writing. "You'll see what I mean when you visit the first introductory essays linked above." They are much too yellow to represent my mother and me and our life together. I'm not certain for whom I created the ambiance of my first two columns. Certainly it wasn't for me; about the same time I wrote those columns I was complaining in correspondence to a sister about a book I'd discovered full of advice to caregivers that was so cheerful and positive it offended me. As I redesign this site and material I find I can't delete either of the initial essays. At the time I wrote them I think I wanted to believe that this adventure would be deliriously joyful. Both my mother and I have traversed a variety of states since then, most of which put my introductory glee into sharp perspective. None of these adventures, though, has mocked the sense of wonder that surrounds my participation as a caregiver in my mother's life.
    So, I begin. Again. My next addition will be an excerpt from an email to a friend, Mom is Restless Tonight.... Although it was written two years ago it is the tale of an evening encounter between my mother and me that remains a landmark in my memory. It captures, for me, the curious vista this type of caregiving reveals. I cannot guide her or empathize with her, as I haven't been where she is and don't know if I'll ever go there. It is as though we are both students in this with no hope of ever finding a teacher or even a lesson plan. Yet, the learning continues, eerily on schedule, taking us to all the places on the mysterious maps etched into the faces of those deep into the country we are exploring while we wonder if the markings represent where we've been, where we are or where we're going.
    I'm keeping the logo attached to the first introductory essay although I now find it relentlessly cute. I haven't any idea with what to replace it. It seems hopeful in it's cartoonishness and although I frequently gag on cheerfulness I can always swallow hope. My mother, by the way, still looks very much like her caricature, especially since we purchased a hair pastiche. My hair has changed. Drastically.
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