Saturday, May 10, 2008

Make a joyful noise

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” is the motto that drove our family. I had sung in choirs since I was in my early teens. During my long drive to work, I found solace in music. I played various CDs and sang out, sunroof open, at the top of my lungs to the animals and trees and small lakes I passed on the long drive to work. There is peace either in singing or listening to music. I played Meatloaf, lots of vocal music, Christmas music, and I cranked through Messiah several times. Colm Wilkinson’s album Some of My Best Friends Are Songs (2004) struck a chord for me. From “We Are One”: “The slower you move; the faster you go.” I tried to contact Mr. Wilkinson, but he failed to respond. I wanted to print the words from this song as it helped me focus.

These words resonated with me. I needed to be positive and work from my inner strength and access the strength of my family. I used to feel that we were a family and that I was not alone. I memorized the entire CD. I tried to go slowly, feeling burned-out and stressed beyond belief. My work was destroying my confidence in myself as a teacher. My inability to look after my mother very well was destroying my self-esteem. She would accept little outside support and would rebel vigorously against suggestions that we bring in caregivers or find her another place to live. We did have a nurse, Christine (she did not have any choice about the nurse). I rather liked Christine, and we talked about Mom’s case.

Mom did accept help, finally. We had had an argument; I wrote her a letter articulating my frustrations, and we made peace. I knew then that she was really ill. It took me ages to convince her to accept the wonderful services the health agency provided. It turned out that all of her caregivers were terrific people. Although many of her friends had worked hard to help my parents meet their needs in the past few months, and most of them understood and respected Mom’s need to do it her way, the time had come for expert assistance. There was Mom's way and the wrong way. There were Hospice non-profits that could help, support staff that could be hired. I have never been so angry with her. An alien came and took my real mom away. I was left trying to care for someone who denied her illness and no longer cared about my needs. The cancer so coloured and framed her life.

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