Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mag 32 - Norma


Her name did indeed suit her - once
formal teacher turned sit-on-butt-all-day
examiner of disability files, gray gay
colleague who always wore big pants and
jackets that covered some pudge and muscles
gone soft. Hard-hearted, some thought.

She once had a life with days in the sun,
love for one remembered now at twilight.
My friend never said what and who
were left behind when her mother
needed her to press cold diamonds
from filtered savored sand,
to freeze time to dab Mother's sick
slowly-trickled tears.

Her other friend, a dependable woman,
arrived each morning, for her nine hours
with Mother while Mother's dutiful aging
daughter attended to her slow office death.

Later, Norma took the night shift - another
sloppy tasteless dinner, one spoonful into
Mother's open mouth, one spoonful between
the tight opening between her own lips - turn
by turn before sponge bath and story. Then
lights out on the nightstand between their
twin beds - one with fifty large jingle bells
sewn onto a strap attached to the mattress.

MLydiaM ~ September 2010

Read what other writers saw in this image at Magpie Tales



Fireblossom said...

Oh, this is gray indeed, but so deftly drawn. I've known some Normas, women of a certain age devoted to their declining mothers, pretty much to the exclusion of all else. I couldn't do it, I'm too selfish, and I'm not sure that's an entirely bad thing.

This also reminds me of how my own mother took care of my grandmother as she was dying of breast cancer. This happened when I was in high school. They were not that close, really, and it was a hard thing for my mother to do, but she did it.

Helen said...

I have lived this...your words struck a chord deep inside my soul.
Beautifully written.

kathew said...

Oh how sad this desperate ending and how lucky to have someone to take care of her.
well written.

Reflections said...

Well written... a sad story that happens way too often. But fortunate when there is someone to take care of them.

Arian Tejano said...

"one with fifty large jingle bells
sewn onto a strap attached to the mattress"

beautiful image.. resonating!

jabblog said...

The weariness of this unvarying routine struck me forcibly. Beautifully written.

Lydia said...

Fireblossom~ Thank you. What a difficult thing for you to deal with as a high school girl. It does sound like it made an impression great enough to direct your future behavior. I left my career ten years ago when my mother was in Hospice dying of lung cancer. My husband shared the load on weekends in order for me to spend time at home, thus preserving my sanity. Until this prompt I had not thought of Norma, but now I think that, subconsciously, her story provided me with an emotional check&balance system with my own mother.

Helen~ Thanks much.
It is a difficult but honorable thing to attend to the end-of-life issues of a loved one. I hope that you had the help of Hospice and a family member as I did. If not, your trials were great.

kathew~ Appreciate your comments. She was lucky to have Norma, who never once complained in my conversations with her.

Reflections~ Thank you. Yes, fortunate, and pity those without anyone around to care or to monitor the caretakers.

Arian Tejano~ Your comment is much appreciated.

jabblog~ Many thanks for your appreciative comments. (I will try to lighten up next week!)

Susannah said...

Powerful subject matter so beautifully written.

Lyn said...

So deeply felt..sad lives , private lives, do go on like all the rest..great take..thank you..

R. Burnett Baker said...

Yes, so many of us or our families have lived this. What seems and sounds so dreary and mundane, is in fact, quite profound, with everlasting meaning. You've captured that perfectly!

Thank you for visiting! I'll be visiting again....


bfk said...

Nice poem, Lydia. Really depressing. Maybe, as to your response above, you should lighten up. A little. Perhaps a limerick. That ought to do it.

Unless, of course, it's a tragic limerick. Nothing sadder than a tragic limerick.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hi Lydia - i am back. Had a few nasty days where it looked like i wouldn't be able to come back, but we found a solution and the hungry pixies are online

Thanks so much for your support during this time - i love your story and your site is always a must for me xx

steviewren said...

Sad story which will become reality for many of us.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Yes, I like this kind of text. Excellent written!

Tumblewords: said...

Raw and powerful. Escape is hardly easy. Well written.

Priyanka Bhowmick said...

very sad ending.. i loved it

Lydia said...

Susannah~ You have one of my favorite names. :) Thank you for visiting.

Lyn~ You are right. And I knew some of those things about Norma's life because I had coffee breaks with her. She was a very private person.

R. Burnett Baker~ Thank you. I so love your first paragraph. You are absolutely right about that aspect of such a situation.

bfk~ You crack me up, even when I have been gloomy! A tragic limerick. But of course! Is this a challenge?

Don't Feed the Pixies~ **HURRAY!**
Welcome back. I love starting a new week knowing you are back writing. :)

steviewren~ I guess you are right, given that this nation doesn't seem to want to join other developed nations in providing national health care for its citizens. ;]

Phivos~ I love your approval!

Tumblewords~ Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Priyanka Bhowmick~ I thank you for appreciating this.

Abhilasha-The Desire said...

That was sad but very powerful Lydia..Must be a very hard thing for the daughter but still lucky the mother that she had her...

My parents gave a lot of themselves for my grand mother... abit too much may be..but its never too much for your parents... Thanks for sharing

Stafford Ray said...

"while Mother's dutiful aging
daughter attended to her slow office death" Whew!
Then later attended to her mothers last days, another 'office' death!
Many of us have been to both places and your poem reminds us not to live an 'office death' before it is absolutely unavoidable! This one is special.

Jingle Poetry said...

heartfelt piece,
lovely done!

Lydia said...

Abhilasha~ You know of this kind of scene first-hand, as so many do. Your grandmother was blessed. I wonder now about Norma, how her future developed after the death of her mother, how her health has been...because she had no children to care for her in her later years.

Stafford Ray~ Thank you so much for your comments. An office death would be one of my fears. I'm glad I left it behind in 2000. I hope my husband's job is not cut because I might wind up back in some sort of office setting. The balance I hope for is that he keeps his job while also making his time away from work more mindful/meaningful than ever before.

Jingle Poetry~ Why thank you. I appreciate that.

Anonymous said...

this poem is so painful to read, both of them wasting away to their ends. well written.

Lydia said...

Patience~ Thank you and let's hope that Norma salvaged some good years later on (I lost track of her after I left that job).



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