I don’t think I could be a columnist, putting out a column every day, I just don’t have that tenacity. I don’t plan anything, I must wait until something strikes me and then write about that.
Often halfway through what I am writing about morphs into something else and then I realize what has caused me to write seems to be as important as what I ended up writing so I go back and add that in.
The other day I started to write on the PPA Support Group on Facebook that, because of the painters and carpet people, my house is chaotic, nothing in its usual place except the toilet seats and yet I ended up writing about my wife’s ashes.
This is the important part of what I wrote on FB
Days are busy and easy, nights are difficult.
It is difficult to accept and internalize that Jackie is really gone, that I don’t get to talk with her or hold her hand.
After giving part of her ashes to her children, putting some in a small heart that gets tucked into a teddy bear for her wonderful care giver and filling the urn for me, there were still some ashes left.
That bag of ashes sat on my bedside table for a week and I just walked around it, trying to decide what to do.
Finally I decided I would put the remainder of ashes on a flat rock in a small stream that ran by our house in wet seasons. Her continuing presence there would be decided by the weather.
Somewhere uphill from my property there was a rain squall and the water in the stream got deeper and faster. As I watched the pile of ashes were melted away, in seconds there was only a residue in the water and, in just a few seconds more, the water ran clear.
Lying in bed, at night, in a house that is empty of anyone else, with most of the furniture moved aside and everything in boxes, it is very easy to think that life is purposeless and not worth living now but I know that feeling is transient.
Today I realized that something had drawn me away from the busy activity of getting my house ready to think about the small residue of ashes described in the quoted segment above.
What incited me to stop and do something about those ashes?
Why, at that moment, was I in control, yet in the mood that stirred me to do something definitive about an issue that had been visible for a couple of weeks?
And this is what I remembered.
I had been reading a book entitled ‘An Officer and a Spy’, a novelization of the Dreyfus affair and the protagonist, in an aside, talked about his mother. She was ill, with advancing senility, and he shared care of her with his sister. In a minor incident, totally irrelevant to the plot he described how she fell and broke her hip. In order to care for her, the doctors anesthetized her.
I read that phrase and instantly I was reminded of the episode years ago, before my wife showed any changes in behavior, when she was deeply sedated for more than three weeks to manage a severe pneumonia.
Yes, now we know that general anesthesia is almost deadly for those with dementia
Yes, the protagonist mother woke into the final stages of a dementia and died some weeks afterwards.
All this described in a page or two of text.
My mood went instantly from energetic to somber and that mood persisted through the evening and I awoke the next day and saw the small bag full of the residue of her ashes.
And I wrote the piece above.
However far in the past is our life, our time together and her death, I will always be tied to Jackie by memory.
Our years together have a hold on me that time will never break.
Nor do I want it to.
I can discard our possessions, sell our home, bury her ashes but she will always be embedded in me – for good or bad.
I know that I can be cheerful in the future but will I ever be happy?