16 April 2012

Another World

By Fran Rizer
I lost my mom this week. No, she's not yet dead as I write this, but she's essentially comatose. I sit beside her for two reasons. First, if she should hear anything through her condition, I want her to hear my voice and my words of love. Second, I'm here because I want to be with her, whether she knows it or not.
Brutally, I actually lost her last week when she regressed to her childhood, crying because she couldn't find her shoes to be ready for school. She began seeing and talking to my deceased dad as well as her mother, grandparents, brothers and sisters, but only the ones who are dead. Throughout her illness and decline she's wanted me there with her. Last week, she refused to believe I'm her daughter...because, "My daughter is a beautiful baby with curly red hair." She's been in another world since then.
As I sit here in a recliner beside the hospital bed, laptop balanced on my knees, I think how every location of this journey--hospital, rehab center, intensive care units and now Hospice-assisted skilled nursing care unit were unknown worlds to us. My heart aches for the patients who've had no visitors before or after a few relatives who came in Easter afternoon carrying potted lillies. Since November, whatever facility we were in, Mama has had visitors daily in addition to me, my sons, and my grandson, who've been there every day.
I thought I might later write a short story that takes place in one of these other worlds that I've visited the past five months, but I don't really believe I'll write anything with a medical setting. Then I thought of the world my mom was in yesterday, the world of her childhood and later young motherhood when I was a "beautiful baby with curly red hair." Perhaps one day I'll write a story set in the world Mom's been in recently--nineteen thirties and forties.
When we write fiction, we create another world. Even if the setting is a real place, the effects of our characters' actions color that authentic place converting it to the fictional world of our plot. When I wrote the Callie Parrish series, I "created" a town near Beaufort, SC. My St. Mary, SC, is a small town with a few stores, a mortuary and only one pizza place, but fortunately it's a Domino's and delivers. When the first Callie was published, I'd checked that there is no St, Mary, SC, but I later learned that there is a St. Mary's in Georgia. I thought perhaps that explained the readers who enthusiastically told me, "I've been to St. Mary."
In the second Callie mystery, Callie and Jane go to a bluegrass festival on Surcie Island. There is NO Surcie Island off the coast of the United States! Surcie is an old Southern colloquilism for surprise, as in, "Were you good while Mommy went shopping? I'm glad because I brought you a surcie." The surcie was generally a piece of candy, and the sitter was delighted that she also received a surcie. As a child, I wanted to live on an island I created in my mind and named Surcie Island, an island version of Willie Wonka's chocolate factory, so I named Callie's island for one of my childhood imaginary worlds. In reality, the Surcie Island of the Callie books is a cross between Daufuskie of Robert Conrad fame, and South Carolina's Edisto Island thirty-five years ago before it was commercially developed. Yet. . .readers also tell me enthusiastically that they've been to Surcie Island.
My readers feel they've been to worlds I've created. As I sit here, I wish that I were able to be with my mother in the other worlds she's in these days. I wish I knew more about her childhood and more about when I was a baby, though I do know that as the first child as the first of nine children, I was pampered and spoiled by my parents, grandparents and lots of aunts and uncles. I also know from the relatives who've traveled far distances repeatedly to visit my mother, their sister, sister-in-law and aunt that my mom, the matriarch of the family is loved by many.
I've already used my emergency column and haven't had time to replace it, so today I'm sharing with you another world I never imagined, my mother's world as she seeks to move on to yet another world. I could have written about mothers today, perhaps even introduced you to my mother personally, but my heart can't do that right now. Instead, I'll close with a quotation from Sharon Doubiago:
My mother is a poem
I'll never be able to write;
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.
Until we meet again. . . take care of YOU.

17 comments:

Janice said...

I am so sorry about your mom. Losing a parent is such a hard thing, but it sounds as if you have good memories and happy thoughts of her, so she will always be in your mind in a good way.

David Dean said...

On some level; and if only in momentary glimpses, your mother knows that you are there, Fran...and is glad. There are few greater gifts than that of a loving daughter or son--your mother has been greatly blessed in that regard.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to you.

Dale Andrews said...

So sorry for what you (all) are going through. We went through this with my mother two years ago. Life just doesn't dish out happy endings.

Herschel Cozine said...

Last month I JJlost a sister who suffered Alzheimer's. Ten days later my wife's brother died. So I know what you are going through. You have done all you can. Take comfort in that.

Leigh Lundin said...

Fran, from those who've seen this and from those who haven't, our hearts reach out to you and your mom. My friend Steve makes a two hour round trip to visit his mother 3-4 times a month, a mother that hasn't recognized him in years. It's what it says about him… and you.

And that's no fiction.

John Floyd said...

Fran, I'm SO sorry to hear that news. My wife and I have been through this now with three of our four parents. It's one of the hardest things in the world.

Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks for sharing what you and your mom are going through so movingly and honestly, Fran. My husband and I have been through it six times--both parents and an elderly aunt with dementia for each of us. It is tough no matter how it happens.

Eve Fisher said...

It's a hard time, and all you can do is go through it. Prayers are with you.

Velma said...

Fran, how is the 'c' in surcie pronounced?

Fran Rizer said...

Thanks for your comments. I didn't write this for sympathy. I started out to write about creating fictional settings, but my heart took over from my brain, and then I didn't get back to finish or illustrate the blog so I just added the poem bit which is a favorite of mine.

Actually, I went through this type situation at 21 with my mother-in-law, a year later with my father-in-law, later with my dad and favorite aunt and uncle. Somehow, it's a lot harder now. Perhaps because she's my mother, though truth be known, I'm a whole lot more like my dad than my mom.(My mom never smoked a cigarette or danced in her life. I used to say I did enough of that stuff for both of us during my youth. She'd never tasted wine until we converted from Baptist to Lutheran.)

I'm also older and less able to physically handle being here all the time, and her condition has caused my mom, who never cursed in her life, to develop a drunk sailor's vocabulary, which I'd love to hear now that she lies silent.

Velma, Surcie is pronounced with a soft c, with both the s and the c being an s sound as sir-see.

May each of you have many happy surcies in your life and give out surcies of your own.

Robert Lopresti said...

Fran, words fail me, although they clearly don't fail you. May you keep finding strength.

Dixon Hill said...

Fran, this was very moving. I know what you're going through.

Hang in there,
Dix

alisa said...

I am going to readily admit I cried when I read this. I lost my mother when she was 59 to Ahlzeimer's though she didn't pass till she was 67. I finally learned to greet my new mother each time I met her. You have a good heart which was passed to you by a good mom. Take care.

Jennifer said...

Great

Jennifer said...

Nice

natalie said...

am sorry to hear this. Continue to pray as we did for you and for your mother. Don't lost hope everything happen for a reasoncheaper limo rate in Charleston south carolina