|BWS Stories - "I Want You Back"...Caring For Our Aging Parents|
"I Want You Back"...Caring For Our Aging Parents - Life/Death/Irony
Nonnie Augustine is in the third version of her life. She was a dancer with a degree from The Juilliard School, a special education teacher, (via SUNY at New Paltz) and is now writing full-time. Her poetry has been published by "The Mad-Hatter's Review," "Realeight," "the_beat," online and in "Larraine and James,” "The Landing" in print, and “TheWriteSource” in print and online. Her short fiction is on Preston Brady's Coffee Mugs, Issues 1 & 2, and at the Writer's Tavern online. She recently won a flash fiction contest held by the e-zine, “Lamoille Lamentations.”
From her mid-forties on, my mother worried about her weight. At least she talked about being too heavy. But I would see her sneaking a cookie, or buttering a piece of fresh bread. Anyway, her shape suited her as she got older. She weighed 95 pounds when she was married over sixty-three years ago. I think it was after her hysterectomy that her problems with getting too plump to be entirely pleasing started. I've seen pictures of her after my little brother, her fourth child, was born, and she was a dish. Not that I noticed at five and a half.
Now-Oh-God-now. We've stopped weighing her or taking her vitals every day. They wanted us to do that when curative medicine was still underway. This is palliative: an effort to help with comfort, for all of us.
A volunteer came and stayed with my parents from 8:00 to almost 1:00pm today. I had a doctor's appointment and errands to runbefore I go away next week. The purpose of my trip is to get divorced from Dick Weasel-or at least to get his attention.
I was giddy with the freedom I had today-yet underneath the pleasure in being out of the house was an impatience to get home and see how things were going.
These last months have been hard. She is no longer plump. She may weigh 100 lbs. at most. Since Sunday she has been staying in bed, except for dinner, when she eats half her meal with us at the table, then goes back to bed exhausted.
Her heart is worn out. It shouldn't surprise us. Her heart worked overtime for so many years. She loved us, worried about us, drove my Dad, my brothers and I crazy sometimes. Only a week ago I was furious because I cooked a good chicken and rice casserole, and she made herself a baloney sandwich, rather than risk my uncooked (she thought) chicken.
She's not fretful now. Her face is more relaxed than I've seen it in years. But she has a terminal illness: old age. And, and, they call it "failure to thrive." Just like they do with babies who won't eat or grow and so they fail and they fade away. My mother is failing to thrive, and I hate it. Mom isn't in pain, thank God. She is slowly leaving us because she is due somewhere else.