Mary and Me

Essay’s using the “n of one” story to represent everyone who took care of someone over a long period of time.

August 10, 2017

Why are you yelling at your mother?

I can’t vouch for why you are yelling at this moment, but I know how you feel. You are trying to be heard. She can't hear. If you are a daughter, it is a scientific fact that raising your high-pitched voice won’t get you heard if your mother is old enough to have sensory-neural hearing loss in the high frequency range. If you are a son, well she might be more likely to tune you in.

August 10, 2017

Bed Bathing for Childless Daughters

I have no idea why, but in retrospect I anticipated that the point at which Mary could no longer be put in the shower would be the most important milestone for me in her decline. I had no problem with the concept or actuality of changing diapers, but I couldn't imagine getting her clean enough with a plastic tub of water and wash cloth.

August 10, 2017

A Bother to you

She stares at me, eyes wide open, imploring me for something. Mary’s eyes are rarely wide open anymore and for some reason they close when she sits up and open when she lies down. Her daughter compares it to a doll with open and closing eyes.

August 10, 2017

Swallow Haikus

Food slid from her mouth

August 10, 2017

That’s Mary

When I first met Mary, as a potential candidate for a caregiver position, Jo said, "That's Mary." Jo is Mary's daughter. But Mary didn't say anything because she couldn't. I guess. She sat in a chair a couple of feet away from me while I interviewed for a position to take care of her with Jo. And so I thought: Mary is old. She is sitting in a chair. She is a white woman. Her arms are locked in a particular position because of a previous stroke. And so I thought: That's Mary.

August 10, 2017

It Went Well

Mary died today at 12:30 pm except for that last sigh, which is not really a breath anyway. It went well for Mary and me because we kept strangers to a minimum and friends to a maximum. We were surrounded by friends, who are empathic, smart and creative people. Mary continued to make friends her entire life even up to three weeks ago.