Hanging in my hall there’s a picture. Because of how I’ve hung it, chances are at any point in time it’s a little crooked. It probably also needs some sort of frame. It’s one of those “Things To Do” I have in the back of my head.
I’m not really sure what it’s of. It’s like a photo printed on canvas of a stream or a canal with a bush in it. Lots of green with some colour from flowers. Honestly if you caught me away from home and asked me to draw it I wouldn’t come close. I am not an expert in art or photography but I doubt it would win any art prizes. I doubt it would even sell on ebay, nevermind sell for very much.
And yet, it is beautiful. It is priceless. And every now and then as I go to bed I notice it in the corner of my eye. I’ll put my fingers on the bottom sides and try yet again to straighten it. “A good day,” I’ll say quietly and smile.
I’m not really sure when this was. Thinking back between 2012 and 2016 I measured time in symptoms. I never noticed that at the time and yet that’s exactly what I was doing. It’s odd how you fall into utterly alien patterns without even being aware of it.
The big thing I remembered was the fatigue. A bit before this day we’d kind of had an argument. It was clear she needed a nap. She didn’t want one, but we’d repeated this cycle where she noted she needed one, pushed herself and then had a bad time the next day. She didn’t always need a nap and on the days she did need a nap and took one she was fine the next day. So this time when she noted she should have a nap and then didn’t seem to be doing it, I pointed this all out to her.
I’m not a complete idiot, I was well aware that observation was not going to be popular. And it wasn’t a normal argument. It didn’t really involve me. It was between my mom and her body. Between my mom and time. The time she had left. I had hesitated to say anything to her before to avoid an argument; to not hurt her feelings, but instead it hurt me a different way. As she went to bed she wasn’t hurt or angry, she was scared and worried.
But she was better the next day. The nap helped. That wasn’t good a good or bad thing. It just was. Just like the tick, tick, tick from the clock. It just was.
She was still able to go out with her retirement group. She could drive, she could walk, all of that. They had a bus trip scheduled where they were going to go see some sights. I’m not sure where she went on this day. I think it was on a tour of some Big Houses. She always liked those. She always said the house I grew up in when we lived in Kansas was the favourite house she owned and it kind of had the look of a big house.
In the days leading up to this the need for naps had increased. Since we’d talked she was a bit better at going for them, but it was hard. She was still coming to terms with needing naps, but she was accepting it better. She wasn’t so sure about this trip. She almost didn’t go. But she’d had an easy day the day before, the weather looked nice and she clearly looked forward to it. I kind of nudged her a bit. It had been hard to bring up that she’d needed naps; it was harder to see her accepting needing naps. I wanted her to go for her, but if I’m honest I wanted her to go for me too. My mom was a strong and independent person; she wasn’t mourning the end of that alone.
When she came back she was tired. But she was happy. She brought this big rectangular thing wrapped in brown paper and gave it to me. Apparently there was a gift shop. When she went to buy it one of her friends said she didn’t think it was very nice; that it was overpriced. But my mom liked it. “It’s my money and I liked it so I bought it,” she said proudly. As I unwrapped it, she said that she bought it to remember a good day. That she thought it would look nice in my hall. She went to bed that night early but happy.
That was one of her last good days on her own. She did it her way and she had fun.
It hasn’t been the greatest year, 2020. But there have been good days. It’s important to remember them. They can echo for a long time.