The More They Stay The Same

Mom appears to have an unerring psychic sense of when I’m writing, when I’ve put myself away in some nook and finally gotten into the zone, and that’s when she shows up to ask me one of her questions. Those of you who are writers or artists know how difficult it can be to find that zone where your creativity can fly, and how hard it can be to reclaim it once it’s been fractured. Tonight, it was to ask me about where those two children are going to sleep. There are no kids in this house, and haven’t been since November when my two-year-old niece was here, but Mom keeps looking for these children, and the adults who accompany them (who also don’t exist). She also keeps looking for me, although I’m standing right in front of her. Tonight she told me that this place (our home) is a place for old people like her and I didn’t bother to dissuade her. She isn’t wrong, in the truest sense. Then she told me a story about how she and my dad came here (never happened) to look at a place for them to live (never happened) and this older woman (who doesn’t exist) came to the door (never happened) and told them the place wasn’t finished yet, but that she could show them around and that she brought my mother upstairs to the room that is now her bedroom (never happened).

So go the days of my mother’s life, such as it is.

This past week, from Monday through Thursday, I hosted her younger brother. He’s almost 82, pretty spry for his age, although a bit unsteady on his feet. His short-term memory is as bad as hers, if not worse. It’s hard enough repeating myself for her several times a day, but add him to the mix and…well, as I wrote to my husband (who was away on a business trip, lucky man), “My brain is beginning to liquify.” It sure felt like it. My uncle is a nice guy in that he loves my mother very much, but he’s also cantankerous, opinionated, judgmental, and unyielding. It made for a very difficult few days and I won’t do it again. If they want to see each other, my cousin(s) and I will have to arrange a mid-way point for a meal (they live approximately 5 hours away, my uncle a few more beyond that).

This has also been a week of declarations by my mother that she doesn’t want to live anymore, that she’s tired of life, that she derives no joy from living and just wishes it were over. She told me that when the time comes that she can no longer care for herself (dressing, toileting, washing, feeding) then she wants me to let her go. The topic of compassionate care is one we’ve talked about before and at length and she knows what she’s asking. Taking it up with her doctor – getting his support of the idea of letting the next illness that follows such criteria carry her off – is the next step. If he won’t agree, we’ll find a doctor who will. My mother deserves to plan her own death as much as she can. The last thing she wants – and the last thing any of us want for her – is to spend out her days belted into a wheelchair, staring at a blank wall, and drooling.

Have I mentioned how much I hate this?


On the upside of this week, I had a lovely visit from our adopted son Jake Kelly and his lovely wife Ashli. Jake became part of her family when he was in the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT and we were his sponsor family. He ultimately left the Coast Guard for the Army, but we’ve stayed in touch and remained close. Soon – May – he will deploy overseas for the first time, and so he and Ashli made a point of coming to visit. I try not to worry about Jake, but of course I do. I pray he’ll remain safe and return to us whole in body, mind, and spirit.

And that’s all that’s fit to print. I’m gearing up for a writing conference next weekend. I’d hoped to have a finished manuscript to hand any agent or editor who shows an interest but, alas, that probably won’t be happening thanks to all the hours lost this past week. (Did I mention that my uncle also has unerring skill at interrupting my writing time by just walking in and starting up a conversation no matter how often I tell him I’m working? “What do you need an office for” he says. “You don’t work.”



About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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6 Responses to The More They Stay The Same

  1. I know what you mean about losing that creative thread. I find it difficult to concentrate on anything for very long and have to be in the right mood for writing. If anything happens to disturb that, it could be weeks before I can pick up on it again. I hope Jake has a safe tour of duty (I think that’s what they call it, right?) Your comments about your Mom and her brother reminded me of when my father and father-in-law were still alive. They were both deaf and would talk together for hours, both holding, I swear, a different conversation.

    • LOL! Yes, that about describes it.

      I, too, pray that Jake keeps safe wherever he’s sent.

      I am endeavoring to write every day, but not beating myself up if it doesn’t happen. With the way life is right now – between Mom and all that needs to be done for her – I’ll take what I can get as long as there’s some sort of forward progress.

  2. Gene says:

    I empathisize, whatever good that does. It’s a lesson in stepping back ego. Love you!
    Sorry I missed your Birthday! It’s on the calendar now!

  3. A wonderful post, Melissa. I empathize with your frustrations, and the struggle just to get to the zone. Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.

    • John-Boy, you are the best! That’s what a writer needs to hear from time to time. As you know, we work so often in isolation. To have someone (particularly another writer) say “Keep at it!” is great encouragement. Thank you.

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