“Sharing tales of those we’ve lost is how we keep from really losing them.” ― Mitch Albom
Yesterday on All Saint’s Day, and today on the Day of the Dead, we’re meant to remember and pray for departed loved ones. To remember my mother I’d like to share a story that ran in The Sun Magazine a few years ago:
For ten years my elderly mother slept on the sofa in her living room. When she complained about a sore hip and back, I pointed out that the sofa was sagging in the middle and suggested she sleep in her bed. “No,” she said, without explanation.
I assumed she wanted to fall asleep in front of the television. So, while she was out running errands, I moved her single bed into the living room, thinking it would make her happy. When my mother came home, she cried, “What did you do?” She still didn’t want to sleep in the bed. I asked her to at least try; it would help her back.
She sat on the edge of the mattress, her once statuesque figure now shrunken and birdlike. Then she lay down on her side in a fetal position, but quickly bolted upright. I asked what was wrong. She explained she was afraid of falling out of bed while she slept. The sofa was lower to the floor, which made her feel more secure. I moved the bed back.
Over the next year my mother’s memory started to fade, and she had to move into assisted living. She agreed to go only if the staff let her sleep on a sofa, which they did. My sister got her a new one that didn’t sag.
Just before my mother’s ninety-second birthday, we had to transfer her to a nursing home. When she saw the hospital bed in her room, she became agitated. By then her memory was mostly gone — she had even forgotten my name — but she hadn’t forgotten her fear of sleeping on a bed. We told her the nursing home didn’t allow sofas, and she groaned, “Oh, God.”
A week later my mother fell out of bed, hit her head on the floor, and didn’t regain consciousness. She died the next day.