When mom had her second sad attack in a week last night I finally got the message---the instant I awoke from a sound sleep 3 hours later. At the time I didn't realize it, but the attack began with a phone call from my younger sister. After she hung up I mentioned to Mom I wished Sharon a belated happy birthday. I then went on to remind Mom how old we all are. Mom's only comment was "I don't want to grow old."
Still, despite the hour, she wanted to talk about other things. When I thought we'd finished I excused myself. Upon returning Mom told me she was going to check the laundry even though I cluelessly told her there was nothing on the line. Then she entered my room to inform me she was going to move a piece of furniture. Had she been able to see any dust I know now she would have tried to sweep away her thoughts, for when I next checked she was sitting on her bed sobbing. I sat beside her, tried to squeeze out the troublesome thoughts and listened. After a bit she dismissed me with a reminder of how badly I needed my beauty rest; and the attack was over.
The thought that awoke me was that Mom had euphemistically said "I don't want to die." These are precisely the words I uttered at a very young age when Mom explained the picture of a skeleton I had found. I can still recall how dreadfully agitated I became as I first grasped the concept of dying. Immediately I regretted having quite likely evoked that feeling in Mom just as my brother probably had a week ago by insisting he have a picture of Mom and her 64 year old son.
In 3 months Mom will be 90. I am thinking I will forget to wish her happy birthday. She'll appreciate that more than me causing another sad attack. When we visited the clinic a couple years ago I had to help with some information. After the nurse left us Mom looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes and said with a cheerful laugh,"I don't know how old I am." Mom's message is, it's better that way.