Queen Joan

by cheri block

One of the inherent problems with writing is that it [meaning all that has been written about] has all been said before.

Sure. What writers must remember is that each of us puts our own signature on our writing in the form of diction, story, tone, and irony.  This individuality is what draws us to certain writers who express themselves in ways that we understand or need to understand.

This week, I visited my mother Joan, about whom I have written many posts. If you are a new reader, just search for Joan in the search bar or tag list and all of my expressions about this remarkable woman will be available.

My visit with Joan took a turn I was not expecting and I left her apartment feeling like I had been  rolled out like malleable soft dough on a cookie sheet, sure to be punched and cut into sympathetic shapes–stars, moons, happy faces, and Christmas trees and Hannukah dreidels.

As a doughy happy-face cookie, I couldn’t cry even though she did. In fact, I encouraged her tears as her personal therapist, aching to relieve the tension she must feel, living alone with caregivers who often speak in their own language.

I told her I was going to New York and would be back on Tuesday to show her my photos.

Normally, she would express joy that I could still do this in my early 60’s. She would remember when she and Dad traveled and offer some short decoration for her own cookie.

This time, the tears ran down her face and she said, “Getting old is hell. I can’t do these things anymore; I am so sedentary!! With this genuine and cogent expression of angst, she reminded me of my old mother, the one I want to return, the one with a good memory, the one with whom I can have a lengthy conversation. I looked into her almond shaped eyes and deep there was my old mother.

I asked her why she was so sad. She cried some more. Then, as if the gloved mitt had pulled the 12 cookies out of the warm oven, ready for sampling, she returned to that inspirational woman, still grateful after an onslaught of maladies that began 20 years ago.

It could be worse, Cheri. Why, I could be disabled. [She is..] Why I could be in pain or without family or deaf [She is…] I am the luckiest woman in the whole world to have my family and my health, a nice apartment and caregivers who are my friends [even though she can’t hear them].

I tried to get off the drying rack and stood up, hoping not to crack one of my chips. I leaned over and gave her a big kiss. She told me I was beautiful and that my hair looked better short.

When I got into my car, I slumped over the wheel, breaking myself in half. But in her spirit, I popped part of me into my mouth and suddenly the world tasted delicious.


About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, My childhood, People, The Dragon in the Lobby: a fairytale about Assisted Living and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Queen Joan

  1. ines Mangiola says:

    Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2013 02:10:17 +0000 To: inesmangiola@hotmail.com

  2. Oh Cheri. I don’t know whether to cry for you or for Joanie, my forever best friend. I too miss the delightful person she once was, while I honor her bravery and courage to face each day with the fine attitude she still has.

  3. Cheri says:

    I saw the old Joanie.
    She is doing better.

  4. dafna says:

    what a beautiful post. in the spirit of queen joan, you are lucky to have had such a long and close relationship with your mother. i would not mind a taste of that cookie.

  5. Well, who could ever resist stopping over for tea and a cookie with you and your sweet mother, Joan.

    I never saw my mother age, Cheri, until after she died and I looked over the pictures from her last 4 months; they simply broke my heart in two.

    So we accept these matters we can not change. We kiss the mom she was and is, we sigh; we cry and find our God in the sky.


  6. Brighid says:

    How blessed, to have been in the presence of the queen, if only for a short time. Nothing is static in life or living, change becomes us…

  7. Don says:

    Beautifully felt, beautifully crafted. You are a baker of words. I hope to have a fraction such clarity as I improve my writing and similarly accompany my mother on her late and ever-shorter journeys.

    (My ex stepmother died over the weekend and thus far, no words have come …)

  8. lindamomof4 says:

    Hi Cheri,

    You so capture the moment, sadness and joy. I have passed this on. Why are you not submitting this to the paper, or someplace to share what so many of us are going through with our elderly parents? Beautiful!

    Love, Linda Gullick

  9. wkkortas says:

    Has it all been said before? Yes.

    Has it been said so well? Not so often.

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