Posted by: morrowsl | June 27, 2016

Sister’s Story


Our joint journals and Mom’s medical journal

A number of years ago, I started a journal about my childhood years growing up in a small North Texas town surrounded by the results of my paternal grandparent’s parenting efforts.  But such stories are best when told by multiple voices, so I gave the book to my sister and suggested she tell some of it from her older sibling point of view.  Between us, we covered a lot of our childhood, a great deal of our teenage years and a spattering of later events.  Eventually we made our way to current events and ended up filling all the pages.  I bought a second book.  But, somehow, the stories ran out and we got busy and that one sat on a shelf for a really long time.

When our mother began to decline and ended up needing someone with her ’round the clock, we started a new style of journal.  Just a cheap spiral notebook where we could keep track of the day-to-day efforts of keeping Mom medicated properly, as well as a place to record doctor visits and any other events relevant to her health.  Both of us prefer an ordered way of managing Mom’s health and keeping a record allows us to go back and build a timeline when something seems to be wrong or if an infection or adverse reaction occurs.  And, every now and then, we’ve written vignettes in those books, much the same as we once did in our joint-journal.  Little bits that help us pass the small hours of early morning while Mom is sleeping.  Sometimes it will be a memory brought to life by conversations with her.  Or even a memory she recalled on her own and shared.  Occasionally we’ve covered current events or family news.  Or maybe just a disagreeable conversation with some medical someone bent on being so “in charge” they missed the entire point of the call or visit.

Recently, I added a journal to our collection.  I told my sister that we needed to record what it feels like to be spending Mom’s last years with her, sharing the time between us, much as we did in the last year that Daddy was alive.  I wish we’d kept a journal then!  When I miss him so much I cry, it would be such a comfort to go back and recall happy days at the lake with him.

So, now we have a collection of journals on the desk in the guest room at Mom’s.  I usually bring them all to the kitchen table and stack them neatly.  And then, when the apartment is quiet and I need to let her sleep, I sit and write.  Or read.
It is a comfort to share the burden of helping our Mother to die well.  Neither of us knows how this particular story will end, but eventually it will.  When the days come that we miss her and our shared time together in her cozy little apartment that backs up to the woods and is alive with birdsong and sweet flowers, we can open these books and read these stories and laugh and cry and remember.

Thank you, Sister.  For all of it.

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