The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly…

By on March 27, 2012

This past weekend my mother entered hospice care. Her dementia has progressed to such a degree, that she is having difficulty communicating and eating.

After making all the arrangements with the hospice nurse, I walked outside to feel the sun on my face and to check on my grass seed. There was comfort there—it is germinating, sending up very tender shoots, masses of them marching in the dark patches where I tossed the seed.

Germination is new life. It is expected after the work—the raking, preparation and constant watering. Gardeners experience the same when they plant vegetables and flowers; then hover to make sure the plants get established. More comfort.

fall scents for your home

But I am losing my mother.

Routine provides all of us with feelings of safety and comfort.

Following down a path in life that is worn and familiar provides us with peace and calm.

Consider: in your home you fumble in the dark for the light switch. You know it has to be there and suddenly you find it and the room is glowing with light.

You sit at the keyboard to compose a letter, your fingers flying over the keys, the familiar process working again.

You put your arms around your special person, forehead meeting that place on his/her shoulder where it fits just right.

You listen to a song, waiting for the bridge when the strings will rise; you sing out, your heart lifting—like always.

We love being with friends, living in the same place, listening to favorite music and rereading poems and stories. We want to go to the familiar again and again. Expectations are met. We feel recognition, emotional fulfillment, belonging. If we need a catharsis to exercise our emotions, often a familiar one fits the bill perfectly.

But I am losing my mother.

There are unexpected curves in life’s pathway, sharp dark corners and times when the familiar, the recognizable eludes us or leaves us. We are no longer grounded; we are no longer perfectly safe. The death of a parent at any age is the ultimate break in the familiar and the routine.

Writer Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley Jr. and Patricia Buckley wrote The Last Goodbyes, a book about losing his parents. When asked whether that bond ends with death, he said: It never goes away, and they never go away. Your parents are your ultimate protectors, and no matter what difficulties you’re having with them when they’re alive, you can always pick up the phone and hear their voices. They provide a certain level of comfort—just knowing they’re there. They’re like fire extinguishers mounted on the wall behind glass. You know if it really comes to it, you can break the glass. And now they’re gone. 

The grass is slowly growing while other life ebbs away.

Buckley explained why he wrote the book: There is an inherently healing aspect to writing a book like this..a way of spending extra time with my parents. 

My father-in-law died one spring. I remember thinking, as I was planting my flower garden, that he would be gone even as the tiny plants I was plunging into the earth grew large, produced flowers—still lived. Maybe the grass I am growing will last beyond the breaths that still keep my mother here with us. Maybe each spring when the lawn renews itself it will be a metaphor for my longing for her renewal too.

American poet Walt Whiteman published Leaves of Grass in 1855. A few lines from “Song of Myself” still echo:

I lean and loaf at my ease, observing a spear of summer grass… 

I bequeath myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;

If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles. 

Thanks to jainaj and Madame Kno photostreams


Originally posted on Boomer Highway.

About Beth Havey

Beth Havey is a Boomer, member of the sandwich generation, passionate about health and the snags in the fabric of life that affect our children and grandchildren. Help me slow life down on BOOMER HIGHWAY Be sure to stop and to chat with her.

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The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly…