An attempt at reconstitution

A phrase from the ‘Mum’ recipe included in the previous post has stuck in mind:

CARE – if you do the latter, don’t let any water get into it or let it get too hot, else it goes solid and you can’t reconstitute it.

She was talking, of course, about the delicate art of melting chocolate. However, it led me into an area of thought I would rather have avoided – or more likely have been avoiding, all this time. To what extent is the ‘Mum’ who appears in this my blog – the reconstituted Mum, as it were – the real one?

I started writing this blog, as I recall, around the time that Mum’s dementia/ psychosis was getting really bad. Around that time we had several silly arguments during my Sunday visits, about foolish claims she made, completely illogical conclusions she had come to, and her patronising insistence that it was me – the stupid child – who had got things all mixed up. Twice I came home from a visit in tears because of the illogicality of it all.  Dementia is something you are forced to learn about from scratch, and usually doesn’t look like dementia to start with. You make mistakes. You let it get to you because somehow or other you haven’t spotted it – that great black storm cloud on the horizon, barrelling towards you.

As far as I recall, the time I wrote my first post and started rescuing all sorts of ancient, spider-infested writings from cardboard boxes in the garage was about the same time I realised I could no longer talk to Mum on an adult to adult, person to person basis. I could no longer talk to her as a daughter. I could no longer ask her advice or rely on her for anything. On the contrary, she was going to be relying on me. It was then that I started this blog.

And so, I have often thought, the ‘dementia’ part of this blog (a relatively small percentage of it) has been an attempt to put her back together again, to recreate her, to preserve her – whatever. And the same for my father – whom I scarcely mourned when he died and did not begin to miss really badly until my mother began to leave me too. And the same of course for my lost life, my lost past selves. These multiple ‘goodbyes’ must happen to every human being as they age, I think – just maybe not all at once or concentrated into so short a time.

In painting word-pictures of Mum, and Dad, and me, and my sisters, I have tried to be honest. I mean, I find it difficult to restrain myself from writing honestly – that’s how it tends to come out – but I sometimes wonder if any of us – the typed up and published ‘us’ – are real? Or could it be that the typed-up and published ‘us’ is in some ways more real than the flesh and blood sad, distracted old folk we really are? Hyper-real.

Damn, I knew this was going to be difficult one to write. How can you put into words something so… transitory and vague?

I find it increasingly difficult to reconcile the Mum of the recipes, the Mum of the sewing box, the Mum with whom I Listened With Mother, the Mum who enraged me by throwing out my boyfriend’s copy of 1984 because she had happened upon the scene with the rats… with the thin, poor person in the plastic armchair, yesterday. I find it difficult to understand this creature who can no longer be shown how to drink from a spout on a plastic cup with the bright-eyed girl who went to grammar school and passed all her exams (except geography!) with flying colours in spite of the second world war. I find it hard to believe that this is a human being let alone my human being. I can no longer talk to her, nor she to me, and without the salve of words I struggle to feel any connection between us. It is as if we no longer belong to the same species, or that she has become animal… or vegetable.

I once had a lover who was – or claimed to be and I have no reason to disbelieve him – clairsentient. He asked me once about the bond between soon-to-be-Ex and I. Did it still feel, he asked, like an umbilical cord stretching between us? Did it still feel as if we were joined by a strong thread, navel to navel and that any separation would produce a painful tug? At the time I suspect I denied it, but whatever I said he would have ‘felt’ the truth as I was speaking. And he was right.

colored dust

It seems to me now that once you have really loved someone, willingly or not, that cord is formed and can never again be broken. You might say that the cord between Ex and I has worn awfully shabby over time and now more closely resembles a thin and greying old piece of elastic than the magnificently throbbing ‘shared umbilical’ of my lover’s psychic imagery. Still, it stretches through the miles between us.

And I suppose the same cord stretches between my mother and I. We are cut off from one another, adrift on different rafts, but still just about within sight. Maybe that is the final, almost-impossible lesson we are forced to learn – how to just be with someone. But how painful it is just to sit. How raw it feels just to be in a room with someone and not be shielded with words or even understanding. How hard it is, finally, to permit yourself to feel the cord stretching and stretching as the other person pulls away, and to know that you are never going to be able to cut the cord, however much it hurts.

12 thoughts on “An attempt at reconstitution

  1. I lost my mom when I was 43, but it took me that long to realize I’d really lost her at 41 or so. We had conversations about the nonexistent people who came to her living room each night, harmless but not exactly welcomed since they tracked up her floors and even moreso after they acquired a dog… and there was that patch of floor between her bed and the bathroom — the only way in or out — where arms reached up now and then to try to trip her or yank her down. They were malicious. We didn’t talk much about that, except that maybe I should get some holy water from the church and bless the spot. The militia that other night (the night I moved in with her and sent my little children home with their dad), lying in wait for her so that she had to pretend to be sleeping; her failing to recognize me — always having to ask if I was her sister or her caretaker or her daughter, even that night. All while she was dying of cancer. The one person I wanted to run to with all this terribleness was.. my mother, of course. I can identify with your pain and your quandaries and questions somewhat. Most of us can. It’s too hard. Love is hard. Even harder is to know that our mothers were someone before we came along, and are someone after the growing up is done, which doesn’t really happen until we ourselves have become the sole matriarch. Well, long story short, (((hugs))). And more (((hugs))). And an apology for so many useless words.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No need to apologise – thank you for sharing some of you story with me/ us. I had the nonexistent people too, and the unwillingness to go into an increasing numbers of rooms in the house that they had forbidden her to use, or that she had blocked off with household objects because that room no longer existed. I thought that was the psychosis rather than the dementia, but maybe it’s all part of the same thing. I actually missed Mum’s evil lodgers when she stopped talking to me about them – they’d been lurking around for so long in the corners of rooms, in cupboards, just outside the French windows in the garden, behind drawn curtains. I’m sorry that you had to lose your Mum when so young, and when you had young children.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, thank you (and now I remember having told you some of it! Gah, sorry!) Oh dear.. yes, what exactly is affecting them — that’s why we don’t see what’s happening. I’d attributed much to her self-doling out of sleeping pills (she’d once cut her palm when *someone* yanked her down and bled for 19 hours, thinking it had been two. Every inch of her apartment and herself and even her bedding were covered…). Well, it wasn’t just the sleeping pills, of course. We’re all precious and unique, at every stage of life (even in the slowly departing). I truly do believe the hairs on our heads are lovingly Numbered. By God, yes — but also by our parents (and theirs, by their children). I love the graphics you’ve chosen for this post, by the way. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post is beautiful, poignant, sad. As Carol said, useless words really, but I feel compelled to utter them, anyway.

    “How can you put into words something so… transitory and vague?” – that’s just it, isn’t it? You can’t. It’s beyond words. The best we can do is metaphors, poetry, imagery.

    We are, of course, all connected. When I try to paint the picture, I get images of electrical connections – energy running between two poles. If the connection is hampered, the energy still courses through the strand, but meets resistance, which translates to frustration, and yearning. If the connection is severed, there is still a flow toward the other and it might, from time to time, spark and jump the gap and briefly reconnect with the other, with what once was.

    To further work this conceit, we are all hard-wired to our our mums and through our mums to the universal source or spirit. When she begins to fail, when the transmissions falter, we are particularly anguished at the threat of loss. Though our mums are but one channel to the source, they just happen to be the primary channel, the one with which we are indelibly familiar. So when there is interference or a complete disconnect we feel isolated from the source, even though we are truly and well connected.

    I’ll stop here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I would like to think about this a bit further, and I can ‘see’ your picture of the electrical poles, and the occasional spark jumping the gap. It does feel a bit like transmission being cut off.

      The explanation that feels most intuitively right to me – possibly from the Michael teachings – is that we all belong to a group of kindred souls who agree to play certain roles or characters in each other’s successive reincarnations so that learning and progress can happen. So we are connected back to the source, individually but also through this centuries/aeons old group of ‘beloveds’. And sometimes we forget about or fail to develop the ‘individually, so there seems to be a void until we find out how to reconnect. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Maggie, I did a Search of the blog and couldn’t really find anything. I’ve read like a magpie all my life – ‘spiritual quest’ stuff, science, philosophy – but failed to take notes, lost or sold books along the way, and now can’t remember where I got all my ideas from. However, I have done a little checking on the internet and a good start would be Wikipedia ( search: The Michael Teachings) then personalityspirituality.net/articles/the-michael-teachings There’s also The Seth Material. But I have only read passing references to these/occasional paragraphs and chapters, in other books.

        Hope this helps. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Nothing I can add to what’s already been said here except that yes, you’re right, the words are so important, and it’s so very difficult without them. That’s why your words – so exquisitely chosen – are so helpful to those of us who read them.

    Liked by 2 people

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