The Tension of Opposites

For Mom on her 86th:

♫  Someday, when I’m awfully low…♪♪

You can lose someone you love more than once. I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s. Slowly but surely it erased the tapes to the point where she was gone, unable to recognize her children. I was just some stranger kissing the top of her head as she tuned in and out of the world that continually escaped her, taking the present and a bit of the past moment-by-moment.

♪♫  I will feel aglow just thinking of you…

There is an instant when the clarity of endings hits with truth brilliant and loud. It all ends. Even the ego can’t sneak in and pretend like a child that “The End” just means that it’s bedtime. You glimpse that life in this form ceases. So, how will you live? How will you remember the beginnings and endings until the last sigh?

I have two images of my mother that I choose to remember more often than others, to provide a sense of comfort and worth. And that my mother was here, that she lived in the truest sense. The first is a snapshot of a young Rosalie in her forties. She and my father dance and everything disappears except the traces they weave together. My mother was the most graceful of partners, flowing to my father’s lead, hitting every beat with a lovely precision. She smiles for the camera and shines like the movie stars of the 50s. She is glowing and alive. Lord, she could dance.

The second memory is somewhat of a choice, but more of an imprint for it came unexpectedly. It was a moment of grace, a reminder to be present. She is in her eighties, and her memories have been savaged. She sits in the front seat as I drive my parents to an event. Old meets new and digital technology affords random Sinatra songs from back in the day. The intro leads, the melody unmistakable, and I turn up the volume anticipating Ol’ Blue Eyes crooning the first line…

Unexpectedly, Sinatra is joined in unison by my mother as she sways gently to the beat. Her performance ends with the last line of first verse…

♪♫ …and the way you look tonight…

Time changes in these moments and I sense this, try my best to keep the car between the lines, gazing ahead through damp eyes. I wonder if she just wanted to hear the song in its fullness…

♪♫  Lovely, never, never change, keep that breathless charm…

Just once more to live and remember, to make a memory, to hold on…

♪♫  Won’t you please arrange it? ‘Cause I love you…

She sways…

♪♫ Just the way you look tonight…

 

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About Dr. John Panepinto

Direction. Execution. Evolution. Each day can be an expression of living with purpose and focusing on what matters most. My sites share this theme of vision, living in our most important roles and responsibilities from imagination and creativity in a simple, practical way. I am committed to educating and serving, founded in principles of development, that people can use and practice in their every day lives.