Mom's Story

MY MOTHER'S EYES
(9/27/05)


it took me
four tries
to close
her eyes
at the end

all those
lovely scenes
in the movies
where a relaxed
hand
lightly passes
over the lids
of the departed
to neatly close
them
are lies

my efforts
seemed more
a macabre
comedy skit

her last
reaction
to any word
or action
on my part
was a surprised look
in her eyes
when I dribbled
some root beer
into her mouth
instead of the
straw-full of water
that she usually
received

her last
word to me
before lapsing permanently
into a pre-death silence
was "Ow!"
after I had forgotten
to put her feet up
on the wheelchair rests
and banged
an unprotected toe
into a door frame
lifting a small
section of skin

she hadn't
said anything
to anyone
in days
so I was
more surprised
than mortified
at what
I had done
to my dying
defenseless
mother

no pain
registered
on her face
but she had tears
in her eyes
as did I

the last thing
that she ate
on her own
was a root beer
float

she rolled
her eyes
with pleasure
as her taste buds
so damaged
after all
those rounds
of radiation treatment
had finally
recovered

everything tasted
new to her then

a BLT

waffles

frozen yogurt

were immense
pleasures
she couldn't describe
using words
but I could always
see it in
her eyes

looking
down at her
stretched out
on the gurney
before being wheeled
into brain surgery
I saw no fear
or confusion
in her eyes
just a dogged
determination
to go ahead
with something
that had
to be done

when the doctor
gave her
the worst of news

glioblastoma multiforme

in the cool
examination room
on that hot
July day
there was
no flicker
of any kind
in her hazel eyes
and without averting
her gaze from the man
delivering
her death sentence
she simply
and steadily
replied

"Let's
get on
with it

what's next?"