Monday, May 21, 2007

Always together~

Nancy Reagan told Diane Sawyer in a recent interview, "If anything, I miss him more now than ever." She was speaking of her husband Ron, of course, the former President who died in 2004 at age 93. They'd been married since 1952-- 55 years.

I immediately think of my mother sitting alone in her assisted living residence. She moved there less than a year after my father died. It was apparent she couldn't stay alone in the big house she and my father built, so my brother and I made the arrangements. Now she is alone in a small room.

She has staff to help her dress, and remind her to take her pills, but she's alone-- except for our visits and calls. Her cat, and the TV. And her dinner companion, Ruth.

Nancy Reagan tells Diane Sawyer. "We were always together."

So were my parents, Bob and Gini. A neighbor once said about a pair of mallards that paddled side by side around a neighborhood pond, "They remind me of Bob and Gini."

My brother and I discussed having a pair of ducks etched into the granite headstone they will share someday. Along with the ducks, the words "Always together," we think.

My mother has never been one to analyze her feelings. She'd shrink from an interview. Poking a microphone under her chin would elicit a self-conscious laugh, and perhaps a shrug, before she would manage to say quietly, "I miss him. I've been thinking about him a lot lately." The camera would catch her discomfort at "being the center of attention."

Her feelings for her husband, though, would they not be equally as strong as the indomitable Nancy's? Of course they would. They are. But this lonely sorrow she keeps to herself.

When friends and colleagues ask me, "How's your mother doing?" I always say, "She's fine, the same, very content."

I believed this. She told me this. But now I see it can't be true, really. Inside she aches with loneliness she hides. I've let her hide it. She wants to hide it. All my life, if I tried to dig deeper, she closed gently, but firmly like a morning glory after noon.

But now I know, and it hurts. Why did I not know see her sorrow? She didn't want me to.


Heather said...

My grandfather is the same way. His wife (my grandmother) had Alzheimer's and died my freshman year of college. He was never the same, but he didn't hide it so well, I guess. He gets really down, and then about a year ago he fell and broke his pelvis, so he's been in a rehab 24-hour care place ever since. And, unlike Grandma, his mind is still good, and so he knows where he is -- it's awful.

I'm sure it's hard when she doesn't talk about it. My grandfather doesn't really either; he just gets down. But I'm sure she knows you'd listen and that means a lot. Maybe she just doesn't want to make you sad? Or for you to see her upset?

Hang in there--

Gary said...

Your mother has "happy" eyes, which means a contented soul, I suspect.

My mother died before my father. It destroyed who he was, at least for a time, but, shortly before he died, I think he had begun to reconstruct himself.

jj said...

My mother was alone for along time after my father passed. Her comment? "There's no one left eho calls me by my name." When I asked her what she meant, she told me "The staff at the home call me Mrs. 'G', to all of you I am 'Mother/Mum' to others I'm the widow of... No one's left to call me Barbara."

I thought about this a lot. Nowadays it is different, but back then when a woman married she lost her 'maiden' name, when her last chick leaves the nest, she's no longer an 'active' Mum, and when she survives her spouse she becomes his widow.

That's amounts to an awful lot of losses, and we all deal with them differently.

My thoughts go to you and your Mum.
jj from iww

Dawn said...

Beautifully written Ruth. And I agree with Gary. Your mother has happy eyes. Lately I've seen more and more film of the Reagans together now that Nancy has released the president's personal diaries. I realize I miss seeing their love and affection for each other. They truly were a couple. Most of us don't know what that means. It sounds like your mother was blessed with a loving spouse --a priceless gift.