Sunday, May 13, 2012

Wanneer sy weg is, is jy op 'n verskriklike manier alleen ...


Van die mooiste gedigte, liedere en artikels is oor ma's geskryf.

Sommige van hulle is sentimenteel, so Briel-agtig, dit is bietjie grillerig.

Ander weer, soos die artikel hier onder, kan op 'n gewone manier vertel van een van die mees verborge, maar ook duidelikste menslike verskynsels - van moederskap.

Maar eintlik, het ek baie, baie kere gesien, is moederskap net nog 'n vorm van die liefde. Dit is liefde op 'n spesiale manier, ja, maar dit kan liefde in een van sy suiwerste vorms wees.

En waar die liefde is, kom die mooiste in mense uit. Soos wanneer, in die artikel hier onder, 'n sterwende ma deur haar sewe kinders omring word en hulle, gretig om haar lewenslange liefde aan hulle, bietjie terug te gee, beurte neem om haar hare te kam.

Liefde stig so liefde. Tot in die fynste greintjies van ons bestaan syfer dit deur en wil dit dan gewys word.

Deur die eeue het mense die liefde van 'n ma hoog geag. Ook in die Bybel. Jesaja 66 is een van die mooiste hoofstukke in die Bybel. Vanaf vers 12, byvoorbeeld, skryf die profeet van die oorvloedige gawes wat mense se deel word wanneer God met hulle 'n verhouding aangeknoop het:

"Ek laat vrede na haar toe aankom soos 'n rivier, Ek laat die rykdom van die nasies na haar toe stroom. Julle sal aan haar drink, en op haar skoot getroetel word.  Soos 'n moeder haar kind laat veilig voel, so laat Ek julle veilig voel."

Jesaja, die profeet van die sjalom, praat oor God in ma-taal. Die gese├źnd mens is die mens wat deur God soos 'n ma bemin word.



Hier is die onsentimentele, maar aangrypende artikel van Tom Eaten in vandag se NYT oor sy ma. Hy noem dit die laaste moedersdag:

I started making wine a couple of years ago with a bunch of guys who know far more about the ways of the grape than I do. Between the crushing, racking, barrel-tasting and bottling we talked about wine and sports, women and sports, politics and sports, and maybe some other things that I can’t remember, and sports.

One day I said I’d be absent from the next round of tasks at my friend’s garage. We were getting ready to blend three different reds, the best part of the alchemy of winemaking, but I would have to miss it. My mother was sick, and I had to go to her house on the Olympic Peninsula, across the sound from Seattle.

“How sick?”

“She’s dying,” I said.

She was full of kinetic passion, my mom — no half-speed on anything. She loved books and Ireland and mountains, and she hated phonies, “weird food” and George W. Bush. When I told her how excited I was for the latest vintage of the wine we were making, she lit up and grabbed my hand.

“Will this one be any good?” With a terminal illness, her conversational filter, never very strong, was entirely gone.

“I think so. It’s … sunlight in a bottle, Mom.”

“You were always so clever with words.”

“That’s not my line — I read it in a magazine.”

A few weeks before the doctors issued her death sentence, my 81-year-old mother was making plans to visit a trio of national parks, and she joined a book club, though she complained about the silly selections.

“‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is garbage,” she said.

She found out that the end was near in a roundabout way. She was driving home from the grocery store when her foot went completely numb, and she couldn’t take it off the pedal. To stop, she steered her car into a tree. An ambulance came, tests were taken. No bones were broken, but they discovered what looked like a massive growth in my mom’s head.

A biopsy confirmed glioblastoma, the most aggressive of malignant brain tumors. The neurologist gave her six months, max, but said she might be able to buy more time with chemotherapy and radiation. She went home, vowing to die with her view of the Olympic Mountains, master of her diminished days.

Our group tasted the red wine — a Bordeaux-style blend from grapes grown on the hot desert slopes above the Columbia River in Washington — on a winter’s eve. I thought it was wonderful, and attributed it to Tom Horton, who is the alpha among our winemaking males. He is also the only one who really knows what he’s doing.

“How’s your mom?”

“She was afraid at first, and she cried a lot. And now she’s not afraid and trying to laugh. She wants to have a big dinner with our wine.”

“Will she live to the spring?”

That was the question. After a few weeks of chemo and radiation, my mother’s condition worsened. I confronted the oncologist, and he said the treatment was basically for show — a way to make everyone feel as though they were doing something for her. He said she could be dead in a few weeks. But hadn’t the neurologist given her six months?

“You know, these projections, four months, six months — they really shouldn’t do that. Make your peace with her.”

She would not live to Mother’s Day, by his hints. We had a running joke, my mother and I, dating from an over-the-top card I once wrote her on that day, a way to make up for all the times I never called.
“What did you think of my card?”
“A bit fulsome.”

Thereafter, I limited expressions of filial love to a few stripped-down, declarative sentences, and we always laughed about it.

Not long after the start of the new year, my mom got into bed and stopped talking, eating and drinking. Her eyes closed and never opened again. When you kissed her, she didn’t move or flinch. All seven of her kids gathered and took turns going into her room and brushing her hair. The Irish music was cranked, even if she couldn’t hear it.

Her final day was incongruously glorious, the sky fresh-scrubbed, dazzling sun on new snow in the Olympics. We moved my mom’s bed around so it faced the window, so she might sense the mountains and feel the sunlight’s warmth — a parting taste of this earth. Her face went gray, her breathing became labored and then her heart stopped.

When the last of your parents dies, as Christopher Buckley wrote in his memoir, “Losing Mum and Pup,” you are an orphan. But you also lose the true keeper of your memories, your triumphs, your losses. Your mother is a scrapbook for all your enthusiasms. She is the one who validates and the one who shames, and when she’s gone, you are alone in a terrible way.

Any day now, the red wine will be released from its oak barrel slumber, all that sunlight bottled for future dinners of simple pleasure. I’m desperate for my mother’s judgment on it, not because she was particularly versed in wine, but because nothing was ever completed in my life until she had her say.
In that sense, she will live beyond our last Mother’s Day. She will be there, for fleeting moments, with first sips of freshly opened bottles. I’ll have fulsome thoughts of her, and ponder a forever unanswered question about whether she would have liked this vintage.

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