Friday, January 30, 2009

A Conversation

"How old am I going to be?"

"90. You'll be 90 years old, mom."

"Oh my. I don't feel like 90, you know."

"No mom."

"I still feel as young as I was in my 20s when you and I first came to Canada to meet your dad."

"That was a long time ago."

"I'm still in good health, you know. I saw the doctor and do you know what he told me? He said, 'I can't find anything the matter with you.' And I told him that was because there was nothing wrong with me. He told me, 'Well then get out of here, woman', and smacked me on the bum."

"Yes mom."

"Well you know, just patted me on the bum. Just in fun. You know?"

"You are doing really well right now, mom."

"And I don't have a wrinkle on my face, do I?"

Her still pretty face is a mass of fine wrinkles, each one the mark of victory over a hard life that never ever gave her a break. She has fine hairs growing on her upper lip and her chin. She has cataract growing in one eye and is totally blind in the other, struck blind in her mid 70's one warm spring day while out for a walk. Her left eye suddenly experiencing a searing pain as if a bee had just stung her. The sight in that eye gone forever.

Although a meticulously neat woman her entire life, she has food stains on her blouse.

She looks at me with pride showing me her "wrinkleless" face.

"I like it here," she tells me, looking around the vast lobby of the senior's home. "I used to get so lonely living with you and Linda. And sweet Lindsay, of course. Lindsay tried her best, but its not like having people around. I know you both had to work. You couldn't help it. Now I have company here. As long as my money holds out."

"Your money is fine, mom. You have nothing to worry about."

"I saw the doctor the other day and he told me I'm in perfect health. He said, 'I can't find anything the matter with you woman. And he gave me a slap on the bum."

That medical took place over a year ago. The pat on the bum portion is a fairly new elaboration on a tale she frequently tells.

Beyond the narrowing of her memory, her blood pressure is an increasing worry. Her feet are swelling alarmingly and she is sometimes dizzy. She is riddled with arthritis and moves with pain. Her left knee was replaced five years ago and the artificial joint is becoming loose. To get around now she needs a walker for balance.

She is becoming increasingly forgetful.

"How old am I going to be?"

"90 mom. You're going to be 90. We're arranging a big party for you to celebrate."

"90! I can't believe I'm going to be 90. I feel just like the young woman I was after the War, when you and I first came to Canada on the Queen Mary. Do you remember that? Oh, of course you don't, you were only 3 at the time."

But I do remember. I remember it very well. Although I sometimes wish I could forget.

"Did I tell you I saw the doctor the other day?"

Top photo is of my mother and I on her 85th birthday. She will be 90 on February 27th.