Monday, June 24, 2013

So Let Us Rejoice

      "Igitor?"  My father read the tv screen that posted the song currently playing on their classical music station.
     "Gaudeamas Igitor." My mother replied from her wheelchair. "For walking in and walking out."  She began singing in her strong contralto voice:
     "Gaudeamus igitur
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Gaudeamus igitur.
Iuvenes dum sumus.
Post iucundam iuventutem.
Post molestam senectutem.
Nos habebit humus —
      Nos habebit humus."

      A few minutes later she slipped back into the foggy depths of dementia and the moment was gone.  But I had caught a glimpse of the girl she once was:  scholarly, knowledgable, classically trained.

     I find it hard to express in words how it feels to see your parent diminish.  The pain of it  cuts to my heart.  The first evening I noticed that something was wrong I tried to will it away, explain it away to myself.  That did not work, it continued to progress.  What surprised me was the ebb and flow of dementia, for lack of a kinder word.  I had always assumed that once one slipped past a point, there was no return.  But there are days I see her as she once was: strong, intelligent, our matriarch.  It is hard to find that other days when she is sullen, stubborn, and confused.
    So when I visit, I search her face, who will she be today?  Will I find my mother there in those mottled blue eyes?
Let us rejoice, therefore,
While we are young.
After a pleasant youth
After a troubling old age
The earth will have us.


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