Cassandra’s Tears

Tears of joy, tears of pain, we are reflected in the salt-water pools we create. So let us build a fleet of paper boats and sail them on our ocean of indecision, laughing at the wind-whipped white-crested waves that would wash over us, drowning us in our own despair, yet somehow never vanquishing us in the end.

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Location: Lennoxville, Quebec, Canada

Sunday, June 20, 2004

I rage at the phage which devours me: Age.

Long conversation with my mom today. More like a monologue with appropriate insertions by me. She is extremely self centered. I don’t mean conceited, I mean that the world revolves around her, and her world is very small.

Her eyesight is deteriorating because of macular degeneration. That means that she still has peripheral vision, but there are problems with it. The doctor has declared her legally blind in her left eye, 50% sighted in her right. Apparently this is still legal to drive, but at 85 she is not about to hop into a car and start barrelling down the 401, even if she had a car, which she doesn’t anymore.

For quite a while we have done the same crossword puzzle every Saturday (hers from the Globe, mine from the Gazette) and compared notes on Sunday. Every Sunday for a long time now she has been complaining about how difficult it is to see. It’s been getting worse. She has now decided that it is too painful and has given up the Saturday crossword. I am saddened by this. It was something we could do over the distance that brought us together.

Since her heart attack she has been on a very restricted diet: no salt and no fat. One of her few pleasures in life, eating, is no longer a pleasure. I hear her complain about her problems and I think, “Why go on? If there is no joy in existing, why continue to do so?” Yet, she changes topic suddenly and starts talking about how beautiful the trees are in a certain park where my cousins took her picnicking, or how lovely the paintings are on the walls in her house.

Then I realize that the poor eyesight, the tasteless meals, the painful hip and the angina do not lessen in any way her continued zest for life. Her mind is still clear, even though her memory is faulty, and her determination to remain independent as long as she can has not diminished.

We are stardust, we are golden, we are caught in the Devil’s bargain; and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.


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