I finally asked him one day...
"How old are you, anyway?" as he moved her from the wheelchair to the bed.
Small thin build, soft curly hair, soulful brown eyes--- he looked about fifteen years old.
"Huh?" he continued adjusting her pants and putting on her shirt.
"How old are you?"
The other nurse wouldn't come back-- said the house was just too sad. Small and cottage-like it was tidy enough, but there was something about the place hard to describe-- sort of a feeling of emptiness and lifelessness.
I noticed an old picture of her on the night stand---long curly brown hair, careless freckles across her nose, a wide smile-- he looked just like her.
"I'm twenty." Wow, a twenty year old kid that bathed, dressed and did all the care for his disabled mother. I had never seen it before.
"You know you really do a great job with her. You take care of her like a trained professional would."
He just brushed it off--didn't seem to hear me. But how did he become her caregiver? I knew she had a husband and daughter.
One day it all made sense. Walking past a slightly open door on my way to the bathroom, I saw them, strung out, nodding off, out of it ----each in their own dark world. Ahhh, so that's how it was left to him to get it all done --to make sure she was fed, clean, cared for in every way.
Time went by. Her strength fading, she grew more and more dependent on him. He moved her hospital bed into the living room where he slept on the couch to keep a close watch on her at all times.
Watching the mutual love between mother and son was very moving.
One afternoon, not long after, my phone rang
"She's gone. We rushed her to the hospital last night. She didn't make it." I could barely make out the words through his sobbing. "My aunt said I didn't give her the care she needed."
"That's not true. You did a great job with her. You are a wonderful son." I couldn't hold back the tears streaming down my face. " She knows how much you loved her."
"She was my whole world. I don't want to forget her voice-- I found a recording of it that I can listen to when I want to be close to her."
Afterwards he would call me off an on-- sometimes every few weeks--sometimes several times a week just to talk. He shared his fears, hopes, triumphs, heartaches. I started to think of him as one of my kids. By watching over her son whom she loved so much, I could honor her memory.
At first I wondered what he needed from me-- noone could ever replace his mom-- I didn't know how I could help. It took a while and then it became very clear -- he just wanted someone to keep her memory alive like he did.
It's been several years. It's still a struggle, but he is moving on with his life ---just like she would want him to.
And I think he realizes it now ---that people may pass away, may physically be gone, but they are always really here......
live on in the people who love them
In special memory of all of our loved ones who have passed on
(click on the link below)