Boarding for flight number 303 to the paradise down by the sea. Looking down from the picture window
seeing the lawn's sloping towards the patch of autumn swail and the sea beyond.
Mom is at the cockpit smoothly gliding this stately ship along its path. With her son, Scott, as a frequent attender and with Randy, my brother along with our dad at her side. We have not always had the time to be fully together in Maine at one time. But it was good to be. And to give my dad something to look forward to. Something that he really wants.
That has not always been this way with many delays and frustrations. Yet, this time it felt good to be together to slowly heal some of the mysteries of the distance and depth of our family.
Challenges crop on the instrument panel next to Mom's stick shift of life. The winds bellow forth making the plane hit some turbulence. We as a family never really know what the flight plan of the day will be.
As my mom is in charge of the dispensing of the daily medicines from 8 in the morning until 8 at night. As mom recalls to me often, "I never thought life would turn out this way, with me being caregiver for Walt." She cuts dad's happy pill in the blue pill cutter and closes its lid to remind her to give it to my dad. Mom also has to dispense the daily parkinsons, dementia and sleep disorder pills as well. My dad is a living walking pharmacy. It keeps him well and the illnesses at a controlled pace.
Mom reacted to me once when I told family ," Dad is fine." She said, " you know dad is ill." I do find it hard to admit that sometimes. I do say to others, "Mom does a good job taking care of my dad," I like to think of him as the fellow I went fishing with, took rides to the store and post offices, and had a few good times on the links and swimming at the Fairfield YMCA.
Yet, the reality of pill bottles and glasses of water surround our table. And the reminders to take the pills as well. Mom opens up the bottle or plastic baggies and places the multicolored pills in dad's hands and Dad gracefully swallows them with his water.
I find it hard seeing Dad this way , but I have the good memories and the times we continually share on the phone each week and the times that I have been his faithful roommate on vacations from Arizona to Maine to Minnesota. Something that not many sons can say that they have had.
Even the silence through sleep can be blessing. Or observing the occasional nocturnal dance of shadows that I have observed. Knowing that I am present with Dad for the time while I am on vacation with mom and dad.
A kind of blessing. A continuity. Just as the waves that have crashed the shore of Maine for many centuries, etching the rocks ever slowly- washing and shining them clean.
Our view out of the window of this spreading estate housing the Jocelyn and Kirkwood wings of Piper shores is of the Higgins beach to our left and the gingerbread house in front of us. And we see Sprague point ahead in the Harbor and a look at several islands in the distance. These islands look like distant cousins to some of the others that we have faced elsewhere Down East.
Whenever our guests arrive for a visit, they always comment, " this is the best view of the whole of Piper Shores.: Mom has commented that their jaws have dropped at times. There are only 6 of these units with such a sweeping view in each of the wings. How blessed that we have been able to pack a picture perfect view to each of our Maine outposts.
Which also makes it a perfect place for Dad to be guided through the last years of his life with my mom at his side. Mom has commented often to me how she talks to the health staff frequently in the frustration of her roles sometimes. Mom sometimes says, " I don't feel like a wife at times and am not a widow." One of the nurses said to her," what you are in, Lois, is in transition." Mom said, "that assured me."
Standing at the door keeping it open, letting in the fresh air and nutrients and keeping the illness in check. Blocking its full assault. Letting it gradually enter, but not to overwhelm us.
I look at my parents as full of grace and love. It is hard to face the gradual loss of who my dad is. And it is hard for me to sometimes let a wave of emotion to spread over me. For a tear to run down my cheek.
When I look at a tide chart or look out through the picture window, the changes in the tide are evident. The water ebbs and the water flows. The water hugs the sky's complexion, going from a bright blue sometimes to that of a somber grey. Yet, it looks to the sky to wear its coming outfit of the day with grace. And it gradually approaches and hugs the shore, something it has done for many centuries. Making its gentle marks on the earth. Just as mom makes gentle marks on her loved ones as well.
That is my mom. She tackles the rigors of the day. She gives to the community at Piper shores whether on the library which has been noted as one of the premier North East retirement community libraries. The library has a good collection of biographies, to poetry, science, fiction and mystery and local maine authors featured to name a few categories. I enjoy time browsing through the shelves as mom puts away the recently returned books or pulls the cards for books that no longer circulate. It is on the second floor of the Checkley Wing of the Piper Shores complex, the same wing as the fitness center and the guest rooms which I sometimes have used. Mom also spends some time at the store selling the basics such as cereal, milk, orange juice and toilet paper. Mom says, "this is my time of respite-to be able to volunteer and help others."
From my own life, I am thankful for the role moms play in life and especially my mother. Even early on as I have shared previously, she employed her same gentle touch as she guided my life. From her first initial touch of me as an infant to the time she got into action in the huddle on her knees to jump start my life. As she reached out her arms out to raise this son, Scott, to life. To switch on the ignition switch to my engine of life.
We have been faced many hardships with my moms mom struggling in her last ten years with dementia and with my neurological difficulties and with my father's neurological issues as well. Yet, I find that constancy on the shore and the woods and in nature to be reassuring. To look out and see the shore present always.
The Pilot comes on and says, "Buckle your seat belts for the descent down through some turbulence."
When the plane lands and the view fades off into the distance, my memory takes hold of the scenes. Awaiting for another announcement for the return to paradise at the seashore. To hear that announcement of the universal gull calling me back for summer's commencement.