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Mother, lately…

20 Jun

There she sits at the head of the octagonal breakfast table, looking like a Fairy Queen. Someone said she is more beautiful now than she was 20 years ago and it is true. I don’t know if it is because EVERYONE tells her how lovely she is. Or is it a trick of nature? Whatever the reason she is a real beauty. But she is fading mentally so fast that every day there is more evidence of it. She is having real trouble speaking. Her voice is so low I can barely hear her. And to make things worse, she has started putting her hand in front of her mouth when she speaks which completely muffles the sounds she is making. Often they make no sense anyway.

Big smile

She basically has Aphasia, and she is 101. In any case, she sits there with her table full of Judith Lieber bags sitting in a circle around a potted Orchid in the center of the table.
The shapes of the purses vary. There is one shaped like a teapot, one is a cupcake, one a soft serve ice cream, one is a sparkling red Cardinal (bird), and one is a bluebird. The bluebird has a baby bird inside her, and the price-tag is still on it. It says $600. For a tiny crystal covered bird the size of a small pillbox, it is shocking.

Outside the window ( an old fashioned Picture window) is a pastoral scene. Green grass, flower beds on the order of an English border against the brick wall that separates the 2 parts of the yard. There is a wrought iron gate painted a muted turquoise like all the woodwork and trim here. It is always open leading into the rose garden and beyond. I ask Mother is she sees how pretty the garden looks, and she gives me a blank stare. She does not know. Because for some reason, it seems very hard for her to focus on the picture. She looks out the window but does not see what we see. It is sad that she really cannot enjoy the grounds to the fullest. But we have a new wheelchair, and she can be wheeled out there more easily than before. She does get taken out to the rose garden and even down to the pool. And she sees them. But not with the full realization of where she is in the midst of her garden.

She likes color, and she must notice the electric blue of the sky, in which puffy clouds collide and the intense green of the grass. The colorful roses and the turquoise and white pool furniture contrast with each other. But she is really focused inward now. And not in an introspective way. But instead in a way that is sort of dreamy. I ask her if she’s just had a dream and often she will say, “Yes, I have.”

 She saw her Mother in a dream the other day. And her Mother was really talking to her even though Mother said: “It was not exactly my mother, more like a ‘suggestion’ of my Mother.” I asked her if her Mother was young. And she told me that she was. That was sort of creepy, But I guess if you die at 24, you never age. That must have been so weird for Mother. And she wanted to go back there, into the dream. She told me she did. So I tried not to disturb or distract her.

mother in bright sunglasses
Mother in glasses

Letting her stay in these dreams is one of the few things we can do for her, by not waking her or insisting that she see something else by asking her to open her eyes.

 Sometimes I believe these visits are harbingers of death, but at others, just I think they are something that happens when people begin to really enter the final stage of aging. And that is what Mother has done. She is definitely old now, there is no “getting around it.” And that does not interest her. She has recently lost one of her few remaining friends to cancer, almost all the men she knew are gone. Only one or two are left of the adults near her age. And practically no men survive. There are 2 who are about 14 years younger than Mother. And they are definitely slowing down. I am sorry for Mother.

The other day I asked her what she would like to be happy. She pondered this and then looked blank.” I know what you would like”, I said” To go dancing and to have a boyfriend. “Yes! That’s right!” She said. I know this is true. She just is never happy without a man. She never ever learned how to be satisfied by being by herself. Because of her large extended family and because in the winter she lived in an apartment building, she always had company at her fingertips. At a moment’s notice, she could find someone who would match her mood. This is an excellent piece of luck for someone like my Mother, who has not an ounce of ambition in her. She was content to live in the way her father did, and later she was compliant with everything my brother or her husband suggested. She did not like to make decisions or plans. That was left to my father. After him, it was left to her boyfriend or later her second husband Ed Wheeler, whom she adored. But her husbands have died, and her boyfriends are almost all gone now. The fun has gone out of the boy-girl thing for Mother.Because of that, I worry a bit about her will to live. But I really believe we must try to do what people want for themselves. Not what we want for them.

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

Wanna Feel Nostalic?

11 Jun

Stolen, borrowed, (originally) December 19, 2013 Reblogged this on Ritaroberts’s Blog

1950’s Version Of An Email


I have no idea who put this together, but it is wonderful!

Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan , or the dawn of Camelot.

re lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me, For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born,

Where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn.


We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince,
Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one’s seen him since.

We danced to ‘Little Darlin,’ and sang to ‘Stagger Lee
And cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me. 


     Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many,
And only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney.

And only in our wildest dreams did we expect to see
A boy named George with Lipstick, in the Land That Made Me ,Me

We fell for Frankie Avalon, Annette was oh, so nice,
And when they made a movie, they never made it twice.


We didn’t have a Star Trek Five, or Psycho Two and Three,
Or Rocky-Rambo Twenty in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Miss Kitty had a heart of gold, and Chester had a limp,
And Reagan was a Democrat whose co-star was a chimp.

We had a Mr. Wizard, but not a Mr. T,
And Oprah couldn’t talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me.
We had our share of heroes, we never thought they’d go,
At least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe.


For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be,
And Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead, And Airplanes weren’t named Jefferson , and Zeppelins were not Led.

And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees, Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me.


We’d never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars,

And babies might be bottle-fed, but they were not grown in jars.

And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and ‘gay’ meant fancy-free,
And dorms were never co-Ed in the Land That Made Me, Me.
We hadn’t seen enough of jets to talk about the lag,
And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag.


And hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea,
And rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me.

T-Birds came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks,
And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks.


And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee,
And Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues,
We had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea
Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me,Me.

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda, and cats were not called Bill.

And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three,
And ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me.
But all things have a season, or so we’ve heard them say,
And now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A.
They send us invitations to join AARP,
We’ve come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me.

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they’re using smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children’s children of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, M

If you didn’t grow up in the fifties, You missed the greatest time in history. I hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did.

THIS is all I know about giving the real author credit:


This entry was posted to on December 19, 2013 by Judy and tagged Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Castro, Eddie Fisher, Elvis Presley, Frankie Avalon, Hill Street Blues, Little Darlin, Marilyn Monroe, Stagger Lee, Star Trek, White House. I got it from: Ritaroberts’s Blog 

My house ‘Barrsden’

8 Jun

I was so happy there. Now it seems like a dream. Recently I wrote to a friend, “Someday I will write about that place.” So why not do it right now?

It was such a good life lesson. My years there were terrific. I loved every day in that place, it was unusually happy. The miracle is that though I did not realize it would be temporary, I paid attention and lived very much in the present moment.

Though there were annoyances like having to keep my son, Robert’s dogs for days or even weeks on end! Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (Butch and Sunny) were their names. Those dogs were so big and messy, shedding their white hair in large clumps. They ate anything that was not put away even things on the Kitchen countertops. One morning when I let them out along with my 2 small dogs, they surprised me. Bumping into the back of my knees from behind one of them sent me sprawling full length on my porch. It was so lucky no bones broke, though I had a sore knee for weeks after that.

Barrsden in the evening light.

My swimming pool was very close to the house, and it was completely private. Every morning from early May to mid-October, I swam in it. It lent itself to skinny dipping because no one could see me. Not even from the inside windows could a viewer get a clear sight. This was due to the tall crepe myrtle bushes/trees between the pool and the house. When the blossoms fell, the pool was full of tiny floating flowers in pink and white. I felt like Esther Williams swimming through flower-strewn water. (Are you all old enough to know who that is?)

The pleasures of living in that place cannot be counted. Memory serves up first one and then one hundred happy events which flood my brain. Some significant events like a rehearsal dinner for my oldest son Charley Jr and his intended Andrea. And some were minor like watching the moon rise on one side of the house and then set on the other. The epic snowstorm of December 18-19, 2009, which kept me snowed away from home for days. But once I got home it was marvelous, beautiful, a winter wonderland all to myself. Watching the flowers push through the soil in spring and finally bloom so that I could bring them inside to put them in vases. When the trees changed colors and lost their leaves in flocks of multi-colored falling debris, it was time to start having a fire every day in one of the many fireplaces. The peace and quiet there gave me space for introspection. My desire to write increased in this environment.

Mostly it was the peace of lying in the hammock under the magnificent Walnut tree. That tree anchored the yard and shot straight up, unusually tall and extravagantly full all the way around. Not typical of a Walnut tree because they are often squeezed into a straighter shape. This tree stood alone, and its spread was magnificent. Ah!!! It was magical. When, shockingly, that tree cracked in two, and I could see the sunlight through it, I knew it was lost. A part of my soul felt like it went off to another dimension with the tree. It was all as it should be. I don’t believe I could have left that house while that tree was still holding the space. And it was necessary to move. My job was to come live with my aging mother in her home in Washington, DC.

To make good use of my time, after leaving Barrsden, I have written a memoir about the 4 years when I really began to spend weeks at a time with Mother. It is a poignant story of the loss of a home and how I evolved from miserable to happy while nothing actually changed except ME. I changed.

I am happy now, living here in Washington, D.C. but I will never forget Barrsden. Even though it turned out to be temporary, it was an extraordinary idyl which has left an indelible impression on me.

P.S. I have a regular column in Keswick Life now. I hope you will take a look!!!

Copyright©. 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson

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