My mother was not doing well. She had been declining for a while. My mother officially entered hospice care at home. I took the train up to Boston on Wednesday.SAM_3928

I thought about my mother as the familiar landscape went by my window.
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I thought about the many trips I had taken to visit my parents over the years,
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and the many visits they had taken to visit us.SAM_3935SAM_3936
The bleak winter landscape suited my mood.SAM_3937SAM_3939
When I arrived at my mother’s she was not really relating to the here and now but had retreated to a place in her head populated with her parents, grandparents and the man with the crazy face. My mother had retreated so far back in her life that she never mentioned my father.

My mother mostly slept. We waited for her calls of distress.
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We would wash my mother and shift her in her bed so she would not get bedsores.
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My sisters our mother and I were in a netherworld  between the world of the living and the dead.
We threw out some things. We threw away all of the free greeting cards sent by charitable organizations.
I threw away
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This paper was a constant in my life. My father had to complete each week’s newsletter by Tuesday. My father is no longer alive and Temple Beth El no longer exists. I thought about bringing some of the paper home but realized that it would be a better idea to commit the paper to memory by just taking photos.
I took photos of more Temple Beth El  stationery.
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The book plates are worth remembering too.
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We also threw away empty cardboard boxes, despite the fact that they would be excellent for mailing things. We tossed the fine tipped multi colored markers my mother used to write letters to small children . My mother used to write letters  that combined simple words and drawings so that even non readers could read them. The markers had all dried out. All of my mother's grandchildren can read  or at least the colleges they have attended think so. So I didn't feel badly getting rid of the markers.
My sister took this bookmark.
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These bookmarks used to be the standard inexpensive souvenir from Israel in the 1970’s. My sister asked if I wanted it. I realized that the photo was enough.

My mother used to say that sleep was her favorite activity. In the past several months she had been sleeping more and more. For the past several weeks she would go to sleep and six in the afternoon and wake up at ten or so the next morning with a couple of naps between morning and her evening sleeps.

But Friday night my mother’s sleep was disturbed. She was calling out to her mother and grandmothers.
Saturday night was also filled with disturbance.

My mother died last Sunday morning. Her funeral was on Wednesday.

I sat the first part of Shiva at my mother’s apartment with my sisters. We slept in the apartment. Soon after I got to Boston my husband asked me if I wanted to take photographs of my mother. My sister in law had taken some extraordinary photographs of my father in law in his last days.
Somehow it didn't feel right to take photographs of my mother.

My mother loved her things In many ways those objects are a portrait of my mother. SAM_3967

My mother used to look at these photos of her parents and grandparents  just before she went to sleep each night.
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My father’s old dresser was what my mother saw if she turned her head the other way. My sister did the embroidery as an anniversary gift for my parents perhaps when she was in college.
My kids love this portrait of my father, a chubby kid on a chubby pony.
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The still life with flowers was painted on cardboard. they bought it from the artist in Israel in 1955
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My parents bought the spooky etching of the old woman after my grandmother had either had her strokes or had died. It reminded them  of my grandmother. My mother in her decline was so similar to my grandmother after her strokes. I wonder if my mother thought about that when she looked at the etching.
My mother always loved sunlight streaming into a room. Once Shiva began I put out old photos.
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The bust is of my mother It was done when she was 26. The photo of my parents was taken in the mid  to late 1970’s. The black and white photo was taken when my mother was 11..
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This is the window in my mother’s room soon after the sun came up.
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I didn’t even put my glasses on before I took the pictures. The sunlight streaming through the window woke me up.  This was the sort of light my mother loved.SAM_3960SAM_3961SAM_3962
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I have been taking photographs of my mother’s vases  in her living room window since she moved into her apartment. They seem to me to be more a portrait of my mother than any image of her face could possibly be. This is probably the last  of these images.
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Soon we will start dividing up my mother’s things and closing up her apartment.

Comments

  1. My deepest sympathies on the loss of your mother. What a beautiful tribute to her, highlighting the meaningful things she loved.

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  2. Oh Sarah, I am so sorry for your loss. I wondered, since it has been quiet. I am glad you were with her and glad you have found a way to remember your mother as your mother and not the one with failing health.
    Very big hugs to you.
    God's Blessing
    Sandy

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  3. I am so sorry to hear of your mother's passing. When your blog hadn't been updated for quite a while, I figured she wasn't doing well. It's good that you were able to be there for her.

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  4. What a beautiful memorial to your mother. I'm so very sorry for your loss, Sarah.

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  5. Oh, Sarah...your photographs are beautiful and poignant. Much sympathy to you on the loss of your mother, and peace and strength as you do what needs to be done to close this season.

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  6. Sympathies to you during life's worst moments. And blessings on you for the wonderful care you have given.

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  7. May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. You have some wonderful memories to comfort you. Karen Minturn Brown (blogspot difficulties)

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  8. I'm sorry for your loss. Your mother was so lucky to have your care and your love (plus that of your sister).

    How I wish I had taken pictures of the things my mother loved before she left us. Thank you for sharing these pictures. The pictures showing the light your mother loved touched me deeply. We inherit their things but you captured so much of your mother through the photos you took.

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  9. Sarah, what a beautiful tribute to your mother! I wish you many fond and happy memories in the light that makes you think of her.
    Peace to you and your family with love from Martha Ann

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  10. My condolences, Sarah, on your mom's passing. You've posted a beautiful memorial to her.

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