I got the first sign of affection from my Mother today, since...I don't know when. She reached out and touched my hand. An acknowledgement and thanks for something I did for her.
Dammmdementia I hate you.
Maybe fifteen or so years ago, Mom had written thirty-five poetic stanzas about all the animals that visit her yard. Something suitable for the early elementary school reader, something that her students would enjoy. Simple zoology, factual and fun animal poetry. As I was cleaning out her house I found many copies of this work, each printed off her computer with edits and corrections.
All through the years we've talked about getting this book published. Perhaps a cartoon of the animal one side of the page, with the appropriate stanza; and on the facing page a real picture of the animal with information about it. Science, poetry, art... all rolled into one. That was the kind of teacher my Mother was.
But time is running out, Mom's reading and comprehension skills are fading.
There are many places on-line where you can get a personal book made with your photos and your words. This seemed like a way to get the poetry to become an actual book.
It arrived last week, not bad, I should have gone with an even larger font. I couldn't wait, I couldn't save it for Mom's birthday (in three weeks), I couldn't save it for Christmas, I had to give it to her. And because it is special to me, and I hope to her, I wanted to give it to her quietly, without the distraction of celebrations.
"Did I write that?" she asked me ten times.
"Yes Mom, your wrote every word, your name is on the cover."
"I don't remember these."
"Can you read to me about the fisher?"
As she reads the stanzas, sometimes I know she is reciting it from memory, other times she is stumbling over the printed words.
"Did I write this?" she asks again. "Do you have the original? Can I see what I wrote?" She is trying to puzzle this out, as if she could only believe it was her poetry if she could see it in her own handwriting. After flipping through it for a while, I finally get her to read it to me, all of it. Then she reached out to touch my hand.
She told me that this could be her Christmas present. Her gift to me was her touch.