Monday, October 28, 2013

October Memoir and Backstory Challenge: Regret #1

This week's theme is Week 5: Gratitude and Regret. The people, experiences, or choices you are grateful for or that you regret.


Hospital

Down the hall from where her husband just died
is my aunt.
Stand-in mother for me as a child
she and I were close
at times
Friendly always
but never intimate.

She did not want to usurp my mother's position
She wanted me reunited with my family of origin
and in pushing for what would never be
we never really were either.

Now she is alone, seated on the edge of her hospital bed
Confusion dictates her thoughts
She has dementia or alzhiemer's or the shock of the loss
of her partner of 50+ years and as I enter her room
her face lights up.
Behind me my mother, her sister, follows.

As I sit beside her on the bed she begins to talk.
Secrets.
Things she's never talked about start falling from her lips.
My mother is trying to shush her
to control her
to tell her what to say and how to say it
and I am in shock
All of a sudden she has allowed me in
Here, in this moment, she completely trusts me and wants to tell me things
as my mother panics and tries to shut us down.

I am pulled between three poles
my aunt's need to speak
my mother's need for her to be quiet
and my own need to protect myself and stay open at the same time

In the end my aunt loses
I am unable to be there and to receive her gift to me
My mother is relieved.
I walk away saddened by my own limitations.

5 comments:

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) said...

This one's hard and sad. Such a beautiful rendition of relationships among women. Reminds me of moments with my mother where, at different times, she took on both the roles of the older women in this poem. And my response was often the opposite as what was required in the moment, the response that would have been fine in the previous moment but not the present one. Thanks -- I hadn't seen that before.

Deb Stone said...

This is beautiful and sad. It's hard to sit in the midst of family conflict--your desire to please both and remain open is so earnestly shared. I feel the angst in this.

Jane Ann McLachlan said...

How sad that the intimacy you needed came too late and in the completely wrong situation for you to be able to respond. You describe your inner conflict so well.

Amanda M. Darling said...

What a lovely description of something so emotionally-fraught and difficult.

Angie said...

How sad that you were unable to receive the gift intended for you. Sad too that your mom wanted the secrets to stay intact.