Yes I can with my Piano Man!
“I don’t think I can. I don’t know how,” Mom replies.
She adores singing, knows the words to hundreds of songs, still remembers them mostly. But she never learned to read music or play an instrument.
Now she’s 85 and in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Her language skills are beginning to evaporate – she rarely completes a sentence anymore. It seems unlikely she should be able to play the piano at this stage, even as she’s coming ’round the mountain.
Eric is undeterred.
A thought bubbles to the surface:
across my consciousness
forcing me to stir.
No point writing any words. This video speaks for itself.
“You look like an angel Mom,” I say, caught in the beauty of now.
Sandy wraps a stray wisp around the curling iron, rolls it close (but not too close) to Mom’s scalp, and waits for it to set.
“I will be one soon.” Mom replies.
My eyes meet Sandy’s.
It’s one of those moments of profound knowing that caregivers, hospice workers and those whom they serve share unexpectedly – one of those times in which there is no denying the depth of our connection with the divine.
Mom knows. And she’s letting us know she knows. While her brain and body struggle in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, her heart, soul and spirit are ready to be set free.
She rarely strings words together to form a sentence anymore other than when she sings (see below), or when there’s a break in the clouds as there has been with her reply. Mostly her speech is disjointed and random, a pick-up-sticks game of subjects, verbs and objects with no real meaning, except when the occasional tear in the increasingly thin veil between here and there allows something astonishing to slip through.
I’m not a religious person, not at all. But I recognize divinity when it touches down.
As Sandy curls Mom’s hair on a Friday afternoon in January, 2014, I imagine an invisible-to-us angel singing in her ear:
“We’ll all come out to meet you when you come. We’ll all come out to meet you when you come. With a hug and kiss we’ll greet you, yes, we’ll all come out to meet you when you come…”
My mother knows she is in the final stages of her journey. Maybe in some ways she’s lucky. Some of us are taken suddenly, snatched without warning from this world we think belongs to us but clearly doesn’t.
Death by ambush? Or a long drawn out siege? Either way, living fully is our duty, discovering joy is our privilege and life breaks our hearts whichever path we choose. Life is meant to be lived after all, joys and sorrows notwithstanding.
Mom still lives with gusto like this, this, this, and this. Maybe that’s why she’s not quite ready to go around the mountain. But she’s getting closer to being ready. When the time is right a whole host of angels will be there to “greet her when she comes.”
I’ll bet she’ll be wearing pink pajamas.
Special thanks to earthbound angels Sandy Card and Eric Manolson.