Saturday morning, it rained. Nice steady, streams of water fell from a pale dove gray sky. Most of the morning, I watched the constant downpour, and from the comfortable dry environment of my apartment, I felt the soothing comfort of the rain, thankful for the deep stirring in my West Texas soul that a good rain always brings.
Lord, I think my soul needed this September rain as much as our parched, drought-dried land.
I moved from my living room window and with a fresh cup of tea sat down at the computer to write this column, but my mind was not on the task. My computer's also by a window. I've made myself believe I need the view for inspiration. Now the theory is ingrained. I think if I gaze long enough at the rain, and maybe have another cup of tea, and smile to myself each time undaunted-by-the-rain hummingbirds come to sip sugar-water from the feeders on my patio, the column will all but write itself.
Stranger things have happened.
And it happens as often as not that the writing gods present me with a topic. Or maybe I've known all morning, I would tell you about my mom.
It appears that the horrid dementia that's stolen everything from her – her laugh, her speech, her peace of mind, her wit, wisdom and memories is making its final plunder. She can no longer chew and swallow, and her doctor recommended we call in hospice to ease her transition.
The time's been filled with so many other going on living life details, I can't remember if it was three years ago or maybe just two. But right after Mom had been transferred to the nursing home in Marble Falls, my brother and I went to visit, and wheeled Mom up to the front lobby where there's a large aviary with finches and canaries flitting about in a natural-like setting.
We sat there with her, each holding one of her hands, and I said, "Mom, I love sitting here watching birds with you. We used to like to do it when I was a little girl."
She said in a whisper-like voice, "I knew these birds were here."
That conversation's played over and over in my head. It's the last sentence I can remember hearing her say.
It's been at least six years since Mom has known who we were. At first she confused us with her contemporaries and called us by her sister's or brother's names. For a while before that, she called me, "Jerry," mistaking me for her friend and first cousin, Geraldine Campbell. That hurt. Stung, until I could swap the hurt and sting with a comforting thought my sister provided.
"She can't know who we are, so she must know we love her. If we're going to be mad, let's be mad – let's hate – this disease."
A day never passes that I don't think about my mom. Not very much in my going-through-life routine occurs that isn't or wasn't inspired by her.
I lean on her encouragement still. It's ingrained in me to do what I can where I am life application she modeled, her "pray without ceasing" solution when the can and do fall short of the goal. Her – borrowed from her mother – "Let's talk of fruit and flowers" when an argument among us might escalate, and hurtful words are being flung about.
One of the greatest gifts my mother gave me was a love of words and language that coupled with her high standard for empathy and understanding, logic and reason are a beneath the surface explanation for how I became a writer.
I admire, but will never live up to, Mom's listening approach, and, instead of giving advice, asking first, "What can I do?"
If she asked, it was never an idle question. She would proceed to use all the patience, energy and love within her to fulfill that request and task.
I was grown with children of my own when Mom told me how during an anxious life period, our preacher's wife explained to her the literal meaning of "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it." Forevermore she was conscious not to let tomorrow's worries steal today's joys.
Mom would have approved of a morning spent watching rain and being thankful. I know that. I miss her, and I always will, but for a while, it seemed like she was very near.
Editor's note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is an instructional assistant and freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly bi-weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.