Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sister Spirit Comes to Visit

It’s the worst possible time of the year for this to happen. My mother is being yanked from one place to another. First a very nice, caring, but clinical-institutional setting in a long term care facility with residents who are clearly ready to leave this world. No longer communicative, they sit in wheelchairs and moan or stare or talk to themselves. My mother is not at that point – yet. But it’s November, which makes her situation even worse. Eight years ago, almost, my younger sister died suddenly, in her bed, during the night, alone and sad. My mother has never recovered. No parent recovers from that horrible trauma. Soon afterward, transient ischemic attacks removed my mother’s short-term memory and ability to care for herself. The mother instinct lives, though. She doesn’t really know what month it is. Yet in the marrow of her body, written in the pulses of her heart, she knows that this is the time of year when her baby died. “Is Candace dead?” she asks. The shock of her move to the institution of old age has almost undone her. But our spirit sister isn’t ready to give up. Within the week, we receive a call that our first choice, a facility more home-like with residents who can still have fun and conversation, has come available. The CCAC tells me that this kind of luck “never happens”. To be offered another room within a few days is unheard of. This is the first time I wonder, spirit sister at work? There are four sisters remaining and we are united. Together in our love for one another, our mother, our children – we are family. We make decisions as a unit, discussing pros and cons, helping and supporting in whatever ways we can. Thus the resolution to move our mother again is made after much soul-searching, but with an instinct that this is the right thing to do. Despite the shock of a third environment within a week, we say yes. When we bring my mother to her new place and her new room, she is immediately smitten by the ambience, the family-community-like atmosphere. She is exhausted, however, from what she believes was a stint in a “hospital”. Her heart and oxygen rates plunge and the nurse tends to her with concern. My mother sleeps in her chair while my husband and I place pictures, books, familiar objects making the place her own. Suddenly, my mom begins to chuckle, a soft, endearing sound so infused with love that tears spring to my eyes. She is asleep, but she is smiling. A look on her face so beatific, so Madonna, that we both stop in our tracks and watch her. She mumbles something unintelligible, then her hands fold together as though she is cupping a tiny face. She brings her hands to her lips and kisses that unseen face tenderly and joyfully. Relief, happiness, contentedness, all are etched across my sleeping mother’s brow. A short while later, the nurse returns and we rouse our mother to go and have some lunch. When I check on her, she is sitting at a table with three other ladies, happily conversing and eating her soup. She’s smiling, energetic, at home so quickly that no one can believe it. The nurse tells me that Mom’s oxygen and heart levels are back to normal. Though I am not particularly religious, I cannot deny the possibility of a spirit existence. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face as she kissed her baby. Spirit Sister came to visit, to reassure, to comfort.

6 comments:

Kim said...

i keep reading this over and over!!!

Chris said...

I can't stop reading this over and over as well!! Sister Spirit feels close.

Ross Wilson said...

Beautiful sentiment. A growing body of evidence has it that when we sleep and dream, our authentic (rather than our ego) selves actually travel from our 'normal' space/time reality into a parallel time/space reality, the same place we enter when our corporeal bodies cease to function. I'm definitely not religious either, but I am spiritual indeed. So, I suspect that your mother was actually seeing and loving your sister, hence the love you witnessed. A nice thought, don't you think?

Cathy Astolfo said...

A very nice thought, Ross, and one that I would never have believed had I not witnessed my sister's spirit making such a difference to my mother. Even the staff remark on what an easy transition this has been for her. Kissing her lost baby once more has given her a new direction in this next life phase.

Juniper said...

Finally read this, very powerful. I have moments like these myself once in a while and sometimes its these moments that keep me balanced in the world. I am so glad Nana is happy in her new home! Miss her already

Cathy Astolfo said...

It was wonderful having all that time together at our family celebration. Nan is so happy these days, Jenn. I swear it's like Ross said (see him in the comments section) - she went to see and kiss her lost daughter and she's been feeling better ever since.