Wednesday, August 31, 2011

natural disasters

It's been quite a year for natural disasters.

We had huge amounts of snow this winter, with many rooftops buckling and collapsing. Then in March there was the horrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

In June a tornado or two cleared a path across the state of Massachusetts, where tornadoes hardly ever stay on the ground for that distance.

Earlier this month the whole eastern part of the US felt the earthquake in Virginia, which cracked the Washington Monument.

And this week Hurricane Irene gave us a thorough soaking and almost washed away the state of Vermont.

What has this weather report to do with my Mother? Mom watches the news on TV, she sees images of these natural disasters over and over.

When I was visiting Mom last Thursday, we discussed the coming of Irene, which would probably just be a very bad rain storm by the time it reached Mom’s area.

Mom reminded me of the Great Hurricane of 1938, when she got caught in the storm and was pushing me in the stroller across town in the rain and wind. Of course, I didn’t correct her, because in 1938 she was the one in the stroller, not me.

My Mother’s father was born on the day of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. No one in the family ever noticed that connection until recently. It’s probably because in 1906, that horrible news never made it to the little New England town where he was born. There was no YouTube to let us immediately see, hundreds of personal videos of these disasters. There was no CNN or Weather Channel. There wasn't even radio. People didn’t hear about all the things we hear (and see!) now.

Last month, when they moved my Mother from the independent wing to the not-so-independent-wing they told her a therapeutic fib-let. They told Mom that she had to move to the new room because they needed to do some construction on her old room. Something had broken and it would take a few weeks to fix it. They had to move all her stuff so that it wouldn't get ruined by the plaster dust... yada, yada... you get the idea.

So Mom is in her new room in the new wing of the building.

Last month she sighs and says "Nothing's the same."
"Oh? What's not the same." I ask.
"This place, it's all new, it's too bad what happened to the other part of the building."
"Oh? What happened?"
"You know! The tornado! It ruined _____. That's why I had to move down here."
"Oh, that's terrible. I'm glad you're safe here."

This morning my brother and I were talking on the phone.
Mom told him that she was sad because she can no longer go to the lounge for games and sing-a-longs... because... the hurricane washed it all away.
Fortunately these disasters are happening only in Mom's mind, not at the assisted living residence.

Mom's mind: that’s a natural disaster of a different sort.

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