December 15, 2003

My mom’s contradictions

Category: Alzheimers — Biella @ 6:09 pm

Yesterday, my mom woke me up with a shrill, a womanly shrill that I think the human female form acquires when women first bear children. Swinging the door open with a lush bravado, she shrilled “Sadddddaaaaaaaaaam fue capturadoooooooooo, he was captured.”

Uggggh, what a way to wake up on a fine Sunday morning, especially when I was deep in baby sleep, which I dont’t peaceably enter with much frequency, at least without the help of the little red or green or blue pills. Anyway, interesting news indeed no matter your war politics and since I had to wake up anyway as I was going to my mom to the Puerto Rico Centro Zen for some Sunday meditation in the hills outside of San Juan, it was not terribly annoying.

My mom goes to the center whenever I am here and this time she amazingly sat through the whole meditation period, not an easy feat for anyone and especially for mom whose ADD has become severe with the onset of her strange visual impairments caused by a rare type of alzheimers, posterior cortical atrophy.

More amazing though is that my mom is perhaps one of the greatest living contradictions known to middle and planet earth right now. We fought the whole way to the zen center that Sunday morning over republicans, democrats, the war, Sadddddaaaam, and such. She was yelling at me for being a communist because I am agains the war and I egged her on with stories that I painted my whole house red in honor of my “great” love affair with communism. Sigh, I can’t help myself but at least she is animated during those times. vSomehow after Sept 11th my mom converted into this staunch republican although she really has no idea about the American political system and in many ways she is quite liberal. I think she reacted so strongly to the Twin Tower attacks because she is a victim of war herself, living through WWII as a refugee from the ages of 5-10 in Western and Eastern Europe. She has carried the mark of fleeing her home, near starvation, and refugeeness since that time and in ways that are sad and at times frustrating too. She reacts very strongly to war and violent death as anyone would who went through the horrors of bombings and camps from such a young age yet not always in ways that are expected.

So, as usual in the last two years, we end up having this fight about America (I seem to always fight with each parent about the “merits” of America atlhough in completely different ways as my dad is armed with pure rationality and history and while my mom argues with pure passion and lots of historical errors), war, violence, terrorism, my mom advocating pretty conservative positions but then she will finish with a staunch anti-war statement (yet she faithfully supports “her” president though she dislikes his voice) and ends up meditating happily at a Buddhist center although I think she spent the whole time reciting some Russian Orthodox prayer she knew as a little girl.

My poor mom plagued with ADD and Alzheimers lives a jumbled life in such a purely raw and physical way but it captures so well her life of roaming, fear, instability, and sadly, tragedy. It is as if her whole historical life is congealing into her illness whereby her sight scatters the world around her into awful distortions of blurriness, enlargement, and erasure frustrating a person who already had a pretty frustrating life. The aesthetics of her illness matches her life in this perfectly sick way, so much so, there is a cruel and eerie beauty to it. But really I can’t admire the “beauty” of such a thing, I mean it is a reality that I can’t shun either and that I struggle so much to find some redemptive meaning in. And though I want to say it is all senseless and unfair she does carry some really full lessons within her life and now her illness if people are willing to listen and confront it.

It is not so easy though to do and I who have to see it in this daily way shun it more often than I should. People just treat my mom as if she is strange and alas she is but still she is fully there as a human who is going through what most of us will eventually experience, the degradation of life and our faculties. But she has to bear with it more than others, wearing it incessantly.

I used to study chronic illness and would seek people’s illness narratives. I can’t seem to go there with my mom right now. I already see her struggle I am not sure I want to sit and get another version of it although perhaps that is what she wants to do. Or perhaps she wants her mind off of it which is what my sister’s b-friend does for my mom. He is an anchor that erases momentarily some of my mom’s pain, which is wonderful.

Perhaps soon I will gather the strength to seek her story out if she so deisres… But in the mean time I will enjoy the funny contradictions of life my mom exudes while I am here with her.

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