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Letting Go

November 9, 2012

Every time I tell my mother (91) that I need to change the batteries in her hearing aids, she says… “What? I don’t need new batteries,” as if I am daft.  Or sometimes she says, “I don’t wear hearing aids!” which is alarming until I realize she means they are in her purse.  And when I finally coax her to take them out of her ears, I open the tiny door in the devices (that was surely engineered by Keebler elves in their tree house factory, there’s nothing in there! I discover that my mother has been walking around with inoperative hearing aids which is a lot like sticking cotton balls in your ears. Which, since she gets by pretty well, makes me think she has extraordinary hearing.

But today I discovered that she has stopped watching TV and stopped going to movie night at her assisted living facility to save her eyes.  She suffers from two of the most widely known causes of eventual blindness in the elderly and mistakenly believes that she was issued a finite amount of vision which she is going to use up faster if she watches TV.

This breaks my heart and I realize I lot of us walk around living with the idea that our resources are finite.  Our money, our time, our affection, our courage, our ability to grow.  And so like my mother, we sit in the dark wondering why we can’t see.

Write a few pages exploring a character (yourself?)  who is hanging onto something they don’t need to hang on to. Long hair?  A job? A friendship? A marriage? A title? A medication? A goal? A membership at the yacht club? A possession? Like a boat? A house? Status? What is the clinging about? What would happen if the thing were taken away abruptly? What could make them relinquish it? What is the conflict? Who stands to lose what? And what, in the end, will be gained?



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  1. lucewriter permalink

    Oh my. I found this heartbreaking. And the thought of finite resources such as vision really rings true for me–sometimes I do this and I’ve certainly witnessed others acting as if they believe that. I guess I could write about my mother-in-law who hung onto her Sunny Pumpkin lipstick and modified forties hairstyle until the very end, if it would teach me something about myself.

  2. thestorywithin permalink

    Wow. Sunny Pumpkin lipstick. That sounds like a story. What a great detail! My mom colored her hair “Frivolous Fawn” and “Lucky Copper” for years. (And I report that with love…)

  3. Marilyn permalink

    I have worked with geriatric clients in various types of facilities. It is interesting to see how, as some of the residents become older and more cognitively impaired, the ideas they start to believe. Your vignette was poignant and witty at the same time. How wonderful to have this view into such a personal interaction with your mother, while being able to relate it to “the bigger picture.” We are all, in some ways, in darkness, and wondering why we cannot see. The search for clarity– for “seeing” beyond the darkness, is what I most strongly identified with from your offering here. I suppose I will write about my search through the darkness to a place of clarity when I began using the Gayatri mantra, given to me by a meditation teacher years ago. Thanks for sharing this heartfelt work.

    • thestorywithin permalink

      Thank you Marilyn, for sharing those thoughts. The narrowing of my mother’s world has been accentuated by an innate anxiety. I’ve discovered that rather than try to “explain” her irrational worries away, it is better to redirect her thoughts with laughter. It’s better for me, too! I stop raising my voice, can connect with compassion, and in that moment, can feel like I have been more mature and loving that I probably am.

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