I’ve been taking a different route this fall and winter to achieve some self health, JOY, and a happy me. Last year I did some traditional sort of help - counseling, rest and even a house cleaner. But at summer end I decided to keep those in my back pocket whenever I needed them again, but to spend some money on some new fun.
So I started taking voice lessons from Daphne’s vocal coach. And since September I’ve been learning and practicing one song. It’s called “I Don’t Need a Roof” from Big Fish the musical.
In the show, an amazing broadway singer plays a wife coping and preparing for her husband’s imminent death to cancer. In the scene that “my song” is sung the husband wakes in the middle of the stormy night, upset because of a nightmare. Once she helps him calm down - he very practically tells her she shouldn’t have to worry about their roof for probably 10 years— he says it’ll last a long longer. Of course, she quickly comforts him and begins singing to him this beautiful song - telling him and herself that she doesn’t need a roof - she just wants him to stay with her for forever.
Well, initially I related this song to a time in Mike’s and my marriage, when we lost our home to financial difficulties. And how I learned through the process to focus on my family and not the following rentals and moves we were forced to make. I too, just needed them.
But as the months ticked by and I kept singing to myself in the car, bathroom, shower, kitchen and wherever quiet time found me I realized the song reminded me of something else. A different feeling. Just like the wife in the story who was preparing for a loss. This song reminds me in many ways of the time I spent with my mother as she lost her memory, her thoughts and eventually her very breath of life.
So it goes like this:
In your face I see a lifetime.
In this place I feel at ease.
Oh yes, I remember in the beginning when she was still functioning enough to live somewhat independently- but we knew about the disease- I remember thinking “this is not you but I feel so at ease with you” - I wanted to just BE in her presence and hang onto that feeling. In tiny moments of clarity I could recall her life, as she loved to talk about her childhood...and I could see a life well lived.
Wallpaper peeling- paint wearing thin- here’s where I end and begin.
Oh gosh, metaphorically yes her wallpaper was peeling and the paint was wearing thin- but of course there was this very REAL loyalty to the fact that she brought me into this world - held my beginnings in her womb and then hands and yet there would be an end soon.
I don’t need a roof to say I’m covered- I don’t need a roof to know I’m home. I don’t need a single shingle dangling overhead - I don’t need a roof to make my bed.
Yes it was so painful to watch her deteriorate but I didn’t need her brain to be healthy to feel at home with my mom. And well, she’d given me a bed of love and learning a long time ago and I knew that would last.
Close your eyes, I’m still beside you. No goodbyes needed today. Here what the rain says- Know what it knows- after the rain, something Grows...
So many days and moments through her sickness I took her home with me and the kids. Or to errands or kid activities. She was most agitated and scared many times when she wasn’t able to be with us. As much as I could I tried to make sure she knew that I was still beside her and I told myself that no goodbyes were needed on each of those days. And I - well, WE all waited for the rain to end. About that something growing out of the rain- that happened too and yet I’m still figuring all that out.
I don’t need a roof to say I love you- I don’t need a roof to call you mine. I don’t need adventure in some far away frontier. I don’t need a roof to feel you near.
Losing Mom’s “roof”- her intelligence, quick wit, support and guidance was rough don’t get me wrong, but again the love was very real and I wasn’t ashamed to call her mine. And I definitely didn’t need any far away adventures with her - we stuck close to home and she was happiest every time she walked through my doors to fold some clothes or organize some stuffed animals or just follow Henry around.♥️.
All I need is you and you forever - all I feel is true and absolute. I don’t need a legal deed to help me play my part. I don’t need a roof to hold my heart.
But in the rollercoaster of Alzheimer’s no matter the love laid down before it hits, there is a slow goodbye and a desire to hold onto them forever.
I’m not sure what true and absolute exactly means but I do know the experiences always reminded me of the core essentials while we walk this earth. Love, faith, family.
In terms of needing a legal deed to help me play my part. No way- my sister and brother and I knew exactly are part- and we did it with pride and endearing love for our mother!
I don’t need a functioning parent to hold my heart- but that was a hard one- still is. I want them to be here for my heart. But they also did enough.
Stay with me. Stay. With. Me.
And in the very end I wanted her to go - but oh how I wanted her to stay! And even more I want her to stay with me in the sense that I don’t want my memories or love of her to ever leave me.
What a song right? I can’t sing it like my voice teacher or the broadway singer but I can sing it sweetly. And more importantly I’m learning to smile through these new adventures...taking all of them to heart!