It is a world that I don’t want to understand.

She crochets, moving her knitting hook backwards and forwards, her fingers moving in an organized rhythm. In her ear, she has headphones, listening to an Indian song that helps her recall a memory of her past. She smells of baby oil, rose perfume, and a mixture of Indian spices.  Rising grom her chair, her weight shifts from one side to another, one hand grabs her knee,  while the other has a firm hold on her steel walker. I sense she wants to taste the remnants of her old life, climbing the fresh almond trees in India or going to the horse races with my father near their old home.

She is my mother and I call to her in my loudest voice. She doesn’t hear me, blaming the radio being too loud or my daughter’s laughter taking over the room. I confess sometimes when she speaks, I don’t really hear her. Part of her is living backwards because there are no empty spaces in that life. In the morning, as soon as she awakes, she tells me that she dreams of my father, her husband and how he asked her to cook something for him. Other times, she will say, “Remember when Dad. . .” and I don’t let her finish because I’ve heard that story about a thousand times. In her bedroom, her companion is a book or the power of prayer or muffled cries.

It’s a life I don’t understand, the edges of my experiences are defined by moving forward. I wake up in the morning, grabbing the momentum in the air, as I venture outside for my early run. With my husband, I am going to the park, dining with him at our favorite Italian place, the need to dream about him doesn’t exist in my world. My days are filled with laughter, in my silent moments, I recall the belly laugh of my daughter or I chuckle deep, the vibrations of my joy echo  in my body, particularly when my husband tells me a funny joke.

It’s something I can’t reconcile in my mind, the very different lives that my mother and I share even though we live in the same house. There are times when I want her to enjoy my world, but I don’t think she can. What she yearns for is the life contained in her dreams. She has a thirst for yesterdays and a sense of homelessness haunts her heart. It’s a widow’s life and how the boisterousness of everyday life betray her. She is here, but isn’t really here.

Sometimes when I try to coax her to be here, telling her to release her grief, she tells me in an even, but hollow tone, “You don’t understand.”


Do we ever really understand what any one person is truly going through? How do we comfort others when we don’t appreciate or completely understand the circumstance?

Flicker Image by  alancleaver_2000