Archive for January, 2007

January 10, 1947

Posted in Uncategorized on January 10, 2007 by Amy Corrigan Flynn

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My grandmother was 38 when she had my Mom.
She was the baby in the family.

Today my mother would be 60 years old.
I thought about how we may have celebrated her birthday if she were here.
What would she be like as a 60 year-old woman?

Even though she’s a part of me, there’s this vastness – a void – that exists in her absence.
On days like today, I wonder about how life would be if she were still alive. And of course, I miss her.

– amy

P.S.: I was 16 when the above photo was taken of my mother. My Mom went through a phase and began signing all of her correspondence “Namaste, Evelyn/Mom”. She also meditated regularly, burned incense, wore beads from the Far East, and had tons of crystals lying about. Namaste means “I salute the Divine in you”. Entitling this blog Namaste is sort of a tribute to my mother. To me, it’s a beautiful word.

Margaret Mary

Posted in Uncategorized on January 6, 2007 by Amy Corrigan Flynn

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(JRC, Lower east side, sunset)

“We’ll be there in a few minutes, Amiga,” I heard the car service gentleman say as I stared out the window in the passenger’s seat of the car. Waves of heat from the dashboard softly blew our hair around in all directions.

After paying the cab fare, I step into the Pavillion, sign in, press the flat, cool metal button for the elevator and wait. The doors open, I get inside and press 2 until it lights up.
At 2, the doors part to a sea of white-haired residents in wheelchairs watching Oprah.
The wheelchairs align like obedient soldiers in procession. I can’t help but feel awe at this particular scene. Just an hour ago I was in midst of the cacophony also known as Grand Central station. Now I feel like I’m on another planet – the way station between heaven and earth, perhaps.

As I step off the elevator, I’m greeted by bright eyes, curious stares, and some smiles. Some really sweet smiles.

I feel like a generator of energy suddenly; the life force that I’m emanating is slowly diminishing in each of the residents. I look for my grandmother, Margaret, in the sea of faces before me. She’s not there. With a bit of a heavy heart, I walk down the corridor to my grandmother’s room.

In the corridors, a sense of surrender and resolve pulsates. Those who were once depended upon are now dependent; some of the residents wait to be escorted down to the dining hall where wearing a plastic bib is back in vogue.

As I approach my grandmother’s room, I hear an oxygen machine shwishing and humming steadily. I say hello to Alice (Nan’s roommate) and find my grandmother fully dressed (shoes included! this is typical Margaret) lying in a slanted position on the bed.

Her breathing is labored as she struggles to talk with me. It’s like she’s got to get words out at the right moment – usually before exhaling.

I drop my bag, take off my coat and give her a soft hug. I adjust her position on the bed and then lie down next to her (upon request). Holding her hand, I take the moment in: Her peacock blue eyes looking up at the ceiling, the sound of her breath, my feelings of wanting to help her breathe comfortably, the frustration of not having that power, the crucifix on the wall, rosary beads peeking out of the draw, a kelly green, handcrafted loom hanging above the bed that was made by my uncle, the Irish Blessing on a plack, photos of all of her grandchildren taped to the wall. A thriving plant. Yellow tulips. Soft irridescent light. Sounds of the Ellen show.

This probably sounds crazy but, after a while, I wonder where the Angel of Death is sitting. Because I know he’s here. He’s in the room with us. He’s been waiting patiently to usher her into the next phase of her Beingness.

I’m grateful because my grandmother is not in any physical pain.
She’s 98.
She still says “dame” when she refers to a woman, “fella” when she refers to a man. Her syntax is outdated and it completely fascinates me. For instance, she’ll ask me, “Have you enough cab fare?”
She’s never had a checking account or credit card. She doesn’t believe in them.
It’s like she’s a living time machine – she’s lived through so much history, so many joys and sorrows, both personal and societal.

As I lie next to her on her bed, she begins experimenting with her breath like a kid trying out a new bicycle.

[Inhale. Wheeze, gurgle. Exhale.]

“Is that me??”

“Yes, it’s you.”

“Why am I breathing this way?”

“I’m not sure, Love. Does it hurt?”

“Not at all. Nope.”

“Relax Nan. We don’t have to talk.”

She knows she’s not well – she can’t catch her breath.

My cousin Anthony comes for a visit.
We joke around with Nan.
She’s still fiesty and very funny.
After a while, Anthony has to leave to pick up his son.

Nan talks with me some more. About deeply personal things. She’s in a contemplative mood.
I feel privileged to hear what she chooses to talk about.

I give her a manicure.
Brush her hair.
Make sure she eats the matzo ball soup.
Adjust her in her bed.
It dawns on me that she did these very things for me (and all of her children and grandchildren) once upon a time.

I call my sister as soon as I leave the Pavillion.
We try to come to terms with reality together.
But it’s hard.
Even though Nan’s 98.
This ending is difficult to accept.
But it’s part of Life.

I’ll see my Nan again – today, I hope.

Postscript: My grandmother’s health has improved dramatically over the past 2 weeks.