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Losing My Mother   1 comment

My mother died on 21 January 2011. The night before there was a bright and beautiful full moon, encircled by just a faint brush of translucent cloud . Other than that the sky was clear, a deep, dark, indigo ocean  sequinned with stars. I remember standing there, gazing up at it, my heart like a piece of lead in my chest.  It seemed so wrong that my mother, who by that stage was in a coma, would never see it, this grandiose display of nocturnal beauty. This ethereal grandeur that made one, religious or not, fervently believe in the power of God.

In real terms, I thought I had lost her long before.  For many years she did not know me, did not call my name, did not recognise me as her daughter, her flesh and blood. I was philosophical. Alzheimers. That’s what happened. Only now can I admit that it hurt like hell, that it felt like rejection, even though that rejection was not wilful.  Quite simply, she was shutting down.  A friend, who  had also lost his mother to Alzheimers, explained it like this.  Think of the brain as a city of lights and, one by one, the lights go out, first in one area of the city, then the next and the next, till eventually there is nothing but darkness.  To me that is  the real definition of Alzheimers – the long dark night of the soul.

My sister, my father and I sat with her through that last night, watching her struggle for breath, the indomitable human spirit fighting still for survival, whilst outside the moon spilled silver on the hard hospital concrete paths and turned the skeletal trees into works of art.  Nursing staff tip-toed in and out, offered us tea and sympathy.They slid away again, professional ghosts on their rubber-soled shoes as if to make a noise would magnify our grief.

Three o’clock and there was a concerted holding of our own breath – the hours between three and five being the hours when life was reputedly at its lowest ebb.  Like me, my sister and father sat with shuttered faces, their minds busy, I suppose, with their own private thoughts and what this woman meant to each of them; wife, lover, soul-mate, mother, friend,  singer of songs, dreamer of dreams, story teller, giver of life, heart of the home.

Five o’clock – landmark time.   The witching hours were past and dawn was slowly ushering in another day.  Behind the moon, the sky lightened, black-on-black, then to shades of grey.  A bird, a soloist began to sing. Others joined the feathered chorus. And still we sat,  keeping guard against the bogeyman. Strength in numbers.

At seven, we kissed her, promised to return and drove home through the still deserted streets of Dublin. A sparkling hoar frost covered every surface, giving the illusion of snow. I was reminded of her favourite poem,  Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. ‘The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep . . . and miles to go before I sleep’.

She died at nine o’clock whilst we lay sleeping, slipping quietly away. A ‘beautiful death’ the kind nurses said. Can death ever be beautiful?

Three months on, I am only beginning to feel the real impact and if I could go back, I would sit vigil forever. I would fight the bogeyman every step of the way.

My family are not the Waltons. My relationship with my mother was not always easy. But she was my mother and, in so many ways, she made me what I am, be that good, bad or indifferent.  And, even in the darkest hours, I loved her.

On 3 April, it will be Mothering Sunday and the shops will be full of Mother’s Day cards, flowers and little gifts. And, yes, it may be a commercial exercise designed to make money for the big corporations, but what I would give to be able to give her a card and a bunch of flowers and see her eyes light up.  Instead, because I live abroad, I will be asking my father to lay them on her grave.

If you are reading this and you are still lucky enough to have your mother, be kind to her.  Losing her is a lonely place.

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Posted March 27, 2011 by Tara Moore in author, Uncategorized, Word Press, writing

Good to be alive!   Leave a comment

Blue sky outside. Cat sitting on the windowsill miaowing at me for no good reason. Peace and quiet indoors. Words flowing – in all the right order. Wonderful husband, family and friends.  Nice one,  God!

Alzheimer’s   Leave a comment

There’s a peculiar tint in the sky tonight, a darkish lavender, thin spread like damson jam between two thick-cut gloom-laden evening clouds. I used to know the name for them once – all the different clouds. I won a prize at school.  A book. Now all I remember is that they are called clouds, the clouds of evening. I turn away from the window, from the clouds and the lavender tint that brings to mind vague recollections of a dress I once had. It matched my eyes, someone said. I don’t recall his name, no more than I recall the name of the book or the name of the clouds.

“Excuse me,” I say politely to the man sitting reading a newspaper at the table. “May I have a pen and paper?” His head is bent low, glasses perched on the end of his nose. Light bounces off the metal frames. Daddy? The word hovers on my lips as I try to place him in my life, his white hair and tired, lined face.  He feels my confusion, rises, catches me gently by the arm and leads me to a seat beside his own, pats my hand. His own hand is warm, capable, clean nails cut square across the top. I have the urge to kiss them.

“What do you want a pen for?” His voice echoes up from the past, tugs at a loose seam and memories spill out. Summer, a picnic, laughter, ham sandwiches with curling edges. A lavender dress. He is my husband.

“To write,” I tell him. “I need to write it all down. Now, whilst I still remember.”

He straightens up and the light glints off his glasses once more and the wet sheen that has gathered beneath. I rise and go to stand once more by the window. The lavender is all gone now. Night has come.

(c) Tara Moore 2009

I love your hands   Leave a comment

I Love Your Hands

I love your hands
Your fingers as they stroke your love
Across my face
And linger on my lips
For a kiss
I love your hands
The way they trace
A path along my body
Gentle, thrilling, setting me on fire
With desire
With grace
I love your hands
The strength, the tenderness
The way you turn a page
Or make a point
Or simply hold a cup
I love your hands
At rest, so calm
And, oh, my love
You’ve caught me in your palm

© Tara Moore 2009

Are Writers Born or Made?   Leave a comment

People often ask me that, but it’s not a question I can answer – maybe a little of both.  Can adversity breed creativity? Perhaps, or is it just that it gives you more to write about? Are writers happy little bunnies or miserable introspective navel gazers? Now that I can answer! We’re joyful little bunnies when the words are flowing and miserable introspective navel gazers when we hit a dry spell or our latest masterpiece is rejected,  scorned and pooh pooh’d (not a technical term, but you’ll know what I mean). My own life has been fairly eventful, a bit of a roller coaster ride really and I suppose my writing was often a form of escapism.  I do know that I don’t write as well when all is going smoothly, so maybe I am one of those people who needs the angst to drive me on.  I wonder if subconsciously I’ve sometimes sabotaged my own happiness for that very reason.  I certainly made bad choices sometimes, even when I knew they were bad choices.  But enough musing.  I’m feeling suffiiciently miserable again and, hallelujah, the muse is back! Theory proved.

Bloggy Hell Fellow Writers – I’ve given up and jumped on board!   Leave a comment

Tara

Okay, so this is my first attempt at a blog – reckon I must be mad making more work for myself, but everyone keeps telling me I should have one. I should have a million quid too, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I’m struggling with writer’s block at the moment and looking for displacement activities and this strikes me as as good a displacement activity as any – well, maybe not quite as good as some I can think of, but they’re not on offer.

Okay, time’s up – back to the manuscript for some more blank staring – I’m working (correction – trying to work) on VIP, which is the second book of a two-book contract for Orion. RSVP, the first, is out at present – I had writer’s block when I was doing that too, but got there in the end. Hopefully, I’ll get there in the end with this one too. Or someone will come up with that million quid and I won’t need to. Stop sniggering at the back!