Thursday, September 15, 2011

9.7 Look Homeward, Angel


So now I get to write Camus’s famous sentence: Aujourd'hui, maman est morte.
It usually rains for funerals. Which day do we want it?
So does this mean we never got to say those meaningful things we never manage to say, even if we have all the time in the world? Even if given an appointment by the lord of death, I’m not sure I would have said them. Or what exactly they were. Would it have meant something to whisper them in the ear of an unconscious, or semi-conscious, old woman. Who was, all insist, not in pain.
Aside from the observation that she was declining, I don’t know what we’ll say she died from. We had frequently observed that her vital signs were good. “It was just time.” Does something in a person know when it’s time? That there was little of life left, or little of the person who lived it.
I’m not sure she knew who we were at the last visit during the summer, though she behaved as if she she did. Her conduct toward me as it has always been in the last years dominated by what we called “memory impairment.” She struggles to listen, and then to make sense, offering occasional murmurs or replies. And if I’ve made an impression, then she asks a question that relates to some aspect of what I’ve said. And who’s that? Where did you come from? You’re staying with John?
That last time, June, when we sat outdoors in the pavilion on the nursing home grounds, I called Sonya over to sit beside her. And so she had a turn of saying things to my mother, her grandmother, as well, and we recalled things. You loved the beach, Grandma. I did? You loved going in the water and jumping the waves. Mmm… Do you remember? Mmm, maybe.
Saul was not there on that occasion, but he was there for the “snowstorm birthday” on Dec. 26. I will say that he had a last visit too. “Last”? “Time”? It’s all relative – and then it’s final.