“This is gravy”, Tim told me as we raced from the coffee shop back to his house to pick up jumper cables and what he called a ‘battery in a box’ in order to jump his wife’s car. It had been a simple plan that mom and I pick him up on our way to coffee and meet his wife, who had an earlier appointment in town. That way his wife wouldn’t be stuck with two cars in town after she dropped him at the airport. The problem was that her car’s battery had died. As we pushed the edges of the Island speed limits, in order to make Tim’s date with the airline, he asked me how things had gone with mom for the last 26 hours. I shared with him that nothing much had changed other than my attitude. I am no longer making a crisis of my mother’s inability to file a category of paper in the same place, that she is still sorting out the same 400 magazines, that the cardboard box collection is as big and redundant as ever or that her fir cone collection (these neatly sorted), will take over the hearth by the end of the fall. All that matters are that her activities of daily living are functional, her ability to drive, her financial safety and her health are all ok. All the rest is shit I have to let go of. And since I have been able to suddenly relax about the annoyances, quirks and manifestations of her illness, things have been a little easier. It’s not that she’s necessarily doing better but that I am. It helps too, I hate to admit, that she is reluctant to leave her Island home.
So yes, this is gravy. And Tim would know. His adult son is dying of a tenacious cancer, whose description leaves my heart breaking for all concerned. I understand that while this path I walk with my mother is very difficult and will not end well, I am thankful to have so much of her still, and given that she does have her physical health, and the progression of her disease is slow, I’ll have her for a long time. Gravy, indeed.