Standing at the River’s Edge (Part1)

Standing at the River’s Edge (Part1) February 27, 2024

Standing at the River’s Edge (Part 1)

Due to a series of events, this February has me standing at the river’s edge, and thinking about the ever-flowing river. Often, we are a part of the river’s flow. On occasion, we can step outside of those waters and think about the broader implications of the passage of the river, the passage of time, and the passing of people from our lives.

My mother’s 99th birthday has been moving closer and closer, and I was making plans to be with her for that birthday. I have an extra special bottle of wine that I was saving for her 100th birthday. Oh, the plans we make, confident that our plans will fit seamlessly with those of the universe.

My mother has been in a Senior Living facility for several years now. I try to see her when I can, but I usually speak with her via Facetime on Friday. I look forward to those conversations. It is nice to talk with her, but much different than the conversations we had in the past.

Nightly Calls

For many years, I would call my parents every night. My father and mother moved into Senior Living back in the 2000-teens, and that changed many things about their lives and their ways of living. When my father passed away in 2018, conversations became more difficult.

The Facetime calls with my mother were a great opportunity for me to speak French. French was my first language, and the ability to speak French these days requires me to go to Quebec, or speak with my mother,

Unstuck in time

The conversations with my mother usually began with a reminder from her nurse that she was speaking to her son, but when I spoke to my mother, I became a blended individual, partially myself. And oftentimes, I would become one of her brothers. At times, her parents were my grandparents; at other times, they were my parents as well. Like a Vonnegut novel, our conversations became unstuck in time.

There were moments when our conversations were very much like the ones we had many years ago. Advice, guidance, and wisdom, and served in a manner that seemed like old times.  Our conversations grew to be very much in the moment, with the past typically being something that hearkened back to her childhood. She occasionally felt that I was there, and I was surely thereby proxy.

A smaller world

My mother’s world became very small, just her apartment/room, and the paintings and photos in her room, that from time to time would provide an anchor in the river, and other times, just flowed along with the river and then flowed past.


A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that she was much less engaged than she had been previously. I made a mental note of it, and when the next Facetime called was even more disengaged, I called and left a message for her nurse.

Several follow-up conversations ensued, and it was obvious that the status quo was no longer the case. Something was happening with my mother, something out of the ordinary. Subsequent telephone calls indicated that she wasn’t eating, and then a call came that said I should come soon. Another call a little later recommended that I come the next day.

I left Thursday morning for Chicago.

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