Not Much To Say

And for that, I should probably be grateful.


Mom continues to heal from her last fall.  The laceration on her right brow has closed and I assume the fracture to the bony orbit of her eye is stabilizing.  The bruise on the right side of her face has faded, but is still obvious in certain light, all purpley-green.  The cast is off and she’s using her hand, albeit gingerly.


Mentally, of course, she continues to decline.  She knows me, knows my husband, but I don’t know how many others she might recognize.  (She’s much better face to face, obviously, than trying to recall someone to mind.)  Her ability to comprehend what is said to her is fading.  It may seem as though she understands, but if you delve a little deeper, it’s easy to see that she doesn’t.  (As an example, today she was waiting for the aide to take her to the toilet.  She kept saying, “I really need to go!” and I kept telling her, “Then go ahead and go.  You’re wearing a diaper.”  “Oh, really?  That’s good.”  A pause.  “I really have to go!”  And around and around.  Finally, I said, “You don’t understand do you?”  Without looking at me, she replied, “Not much.”  And that, of course, is when the tears came.


I’ve relinquished the chore/duty of Mom’s laundry to the nursing home.  I never had to do it.  It was just something I wanted to do for her and, maybe, something I needed to do for myself, to not relinquish control of everything, to have a bit of something beyond visiting that I could do for her.  But it was time to give it up, time to pull away a little more.


Every time I pack up an article of her clothing that she doesn’t need anymore (boots, coats, slippers, bathrobe) I feel like she’s taken another step away from this world.  Or maybe it’s that I’m stepping back?  I don’t know.  But it’s a threshold to something, a pivotal moment, a little ominous, a bit of the old (if you’ll excuse me waxing melodramatic) tolling of the bell.  Every time I visit, she is smaller, physically and mentally.  Some day, she’ll wink out altogether.

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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2 Responses to Not Much To Say

  1. bluestempond says:

    I’m right there with you. On the rare visits from people other than close family, people comment on how well my Mother is doing, as if I was making up her fading grasp on reality. Without really knowing how her mind works it appears that she is following the conversation much better than she really is. She tries really hard to hide it when she is “on stage.” I am careful to steer the conversation clear from how long she’s been there or that she will not be leaving the home. Her tears are too close to the surface as it is and it distresses me when she weeps. I try to make her laugh.

    • I completely understand all of that! I did the same for the longest time. Now the issue of leaving rarely comes up. When it does, I tell Mom that she is in the hospital and has to stay until she gets better. That seems to make her confinement bearable. Now, though, she barely knows I’m there. People who don’t see her day-to-day as I do, think she’s much better than she is.

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