Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Melancholy in Maryland


Complete silence on the walking trail is creepy. Perhaps it’s too dry to hear birds going about their business…odd not to hear a Cardinal deep in the woods or squawking crows overhead. My walking pace quickened and I thought about a lot of things. I’ll be seeing Dad in a couple of days.


Only flying insects got my attention.

Some trees didn’t make it through the summer. I took a blurry photo of a Blue Jay on this same tree last March. My father resented Blue Jays because of their unmerciful attacks on his cats. The memory of him trying to guard them under the maple tree in the back yard made me smile.

Visiting my Dad causes emotions to surface that I’m not happy about. I can’t describe my upcoming visit as a feeling of dread, actually. It’s more like feeling sadly apprehensive. Twelve years of seeing him either sit in a wheelchair or lay in his bed is so painful and it doesn’t get easier. A year has passed since he moved to the nursing home… my God, I wish there was a better life for him.

Each time I sit with him, I look at his palsied, stiff hands and dream of putting my hand on his as an invitation to magically get up and dance to some funky beat – to get up and swing each other around like we used to, snapping our fingers and laughing. It's been so long...

As I walked yesterday through the dry, warm fields and woods, I thought about things I might say or show him that would brighten his day. He’s not much of a conversationalist, with standard replies of No, Yes, or Thank You. It makes for awkward visits, really. Often, his comments sound like gibberish. I smile widely and nod as my reply, even if my heart is breaking.


He always loved to take car rides and never hesitated to stop and see something new or unusual. Maybe I inherited his compulsive trait, as he would stop the car to see a Great Blue Heron like I did last February.


Yesterday, I saw a cat sitting vigilantly in the same spot, like the Heron did six months ago. (Click to enlarge these photos.)

While Mom was hospitalized I cared for Dad occasionally. He was impressed with my vacuum cleaning ability and called me a “white tornado”. For this upcoming visit, I think I’ll print out this post and show & tell him some things about me that he doesn’t know. Dad loves the arts. He sang often, played the piano and guitar, and loved to draw. He might like my photos, at least for a moment or two.

He hasn’t met the dogs so I’ll tell him a few stories

about how old Chloe still likes to flush chipmunks,

and feast on chunks of red clay.

He might giggle when I tell him how wonderfully sweet and dimwitted Bella is

and how Mr. Biggins worries about everything under the sun.

I sure hope this photo of Bam-Bam doesn’t scare him.

He might say, “What’s a Cedar Waxwing?”
Dad probably won’t understand my blog or my interest in photographing nature and


my short stories might cause him to doze. But I’ll be there to wish him sweet dreams.


Update: It's raining!


Please say a prayer for Lynne at Hasty Brook’s Mom who is in critical condition after suffering a fall earlier this week.


thailandchani said...

Oh, you can't imagine how beautiful these pictures are now.. with my new monitor. :)

Definitely show the pictures to your dad. Sometimes the visual does far more good than the verbal!



Q said...

Dear Mary,
Yes, one last dance. I am with you. I understand 100%. You will make the most of your time with your Dad. You will find the joy, like you always do. You will see the beauty and you will feel the sadness. It has been a long time for him and for you. A long time.
Your photos always are wonderful. Seeing the difference in the pond was shocking, from Blue Heron to cat...
Your Dad will enjoy your pups. They are darling and funny and so sweet. He may not understand your love of do, that's all that matters.
Thank goodness you have rain. Thank goodness.
I will say prayers for Lynne and her mother.
Be full of care as you travel.
See you next week.
Bet there is a lifer waiting for you.

Carol Michel said...

What a touching post.

I could not help but notice that the cat is sitting on dry land, where in March there was water.

While it is difficult to visit a parent who isn't what he once was, it is important to make that visit and enjoy the time you still have together. Many of us no longer have that opportunity.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, I'll be sending positive thoughts your way this weekend. I hope your Dad is is in good spirits when you're there. I think he will enjoy seeing your pictures also.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Mary, Good luck with your visit. I bet your Dad will enjoy your photos even if he doesn't understand your drive to make your photos and blog.

Bam-Bam is too cute to be scary.

Hooray for rain. We got rain too.

Naturegirl said...

Mary I understand.
My mother is in a senior residence assisted living floor has been for a year. I struggle emotionally trying to accept the fact that she has Dimentia..I struggle when I visit and fight her battles with the staff when I see neglect..I struggle with mental health professionals re: her state of meds... I could go on and on.(My mother is in a good private senior residence)
I struggle with the fact that I filled out necessary documents to place her in a gov't nursing home
on the advise of her doctors.
I am overwhelmed and must somehow come to peace with the fact..I am losing fragments of my mother ..the one I used to know..I want everthing to be the way it was..*My bout with shingles is the result of my struggles.*
I struggle with ..should I or shouldn't I post my feelings on my blog. I know there are many baby boomers like us with aging parents and we feel helpless when we realize that we cannot care for our parents or that our parents can't live on their own or with us. I understand Mary..

Show the about those photos..make memories for yourself
Mary..that's all we can do make beautiful memories that we hold in our hearts forever.
I wish peace for you hugs for you and your dad. Anna xo
P.S. Thank you for birthday greeting!!

Anonymous said...

Hey White Tornado . . . . I love your waxwing photo and today I was thinking the same thing about how quite it was in the forest! Can I say yet that I am ready for spring? BTW: I just know your father will be very proud of your post! Tell him hi from all of us!

entoto said...

So, you have told us your observational skills may very well come from your dad. Where does your love of nature come from?

Susie said...

I can truly relate to your melancholy feelings. Each time I pull up to the care home to visit my Grandpa, I wonder in what way will he have changed. It's so hard to communicate with him, as he can't hear and he no longer understands the written word.
Touch is about the main way we connect.
Your pictures will probably really lift his spirits.
May your visit with him fill you both with happiness.
PS Yay for the rain!!

JeanMac said...

Oh, Mary. My heart is in tune - hope you have a good visit with soft memories. Hugs.

LostRoses said...

Mary, I'll bet he loves the photos. The dogs alone are worth a few chuckles! What a good idea to print out your post and share it with him.

Cool waxwing photo!

Anonymous said...

Of course you know that if Maryland is too melancholy, it's only a hop-skip-and-jump to Cape May!

(Sorry, I'm still trying to change your mind.)


Enjoy your time with your dad, Mary. He's a treasure to you, regardless of whether he knows it or not, right?

Mary C said...

Hi Mary - I'm in agreement with everyone else. As a matter of fact, show him more than just this post. Show him lots of beautiful pictures. And we can pray he'll make a few comments for each picture you show him. If not, at least you tried. It sounds like all of us baby boomers have already had to deal with this sort of thing with one parent or another. God be with you and your dad during your visit.

Chrissie said...

Dear, Mary. So many will understand. Who knows but your father may be wishing for the same. Show him all your photos :-)

Jayne said...

My heart goes out to you Mary. I know these visits are bittersweet as you have so many wonderful memories of the life he lived until now and he seems sort of unreachable, but I guarantee you he loves knowing you've come and would be so proud of how much you have embraced the beauty around you. Many hugs to you friend.

Rain... thanks be to God.

Prayers ascend for Lynne...

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,
I enjoyed your post today. I know exactly how you feel. Visiting my grandmother when she was in the nursing home was one of the most difficult times for me. She was such a vibrant woman. I think you should not only share your blogs and photos with your dad, but you might want to consider putting together a small photo album for him with your beautiful nature photos and the photos of the dogs that make us all smile. It might be something that will bring him more joy than you'll know. You're in my thoughts...Sandy M

Beth said...

Praying for you and what your future visit holds. Sometimes life seems unbearably full of heaviness. But such is what we have.

Praying for Lynne, too...

cat59 said...


I can only imagine how difficult it must be to see your father in a state of decline for so long. I hope bringing him some of your photos will interest him. They are beautiful and you really have a talent for photography. Love the pics of the dogs!

Kerri Farley said...

I tried composing this several times.... I just don't know the words to say..... I have aging parents also and it is very hard to see them get old. I hope you have a wonderful time with your Dad.

dguzman said...

I experienced the same kind of thing with my grandfather fifteen years ago, and I'm dreading the day when I'll repeat those experiences with my father. It makes me cry just to think it might happen.

Stay strong, Mary, and share everything you can with him. Time marches over us all--it's just the way of the world.

I love your photos, and I'll be thinking of you when I'm in Cape May, my friend.

KGMom said...

Mary--it really is the long goodbye, isn't it.
Hope your visit with your dad is good, and that he has moments where you & he connect sweetly.

Anonymous said...

Mary, your lovely photos WILL make your dad smile. Lots of caring people with be thinking of you as you travel north.

So glad you have rain!

NatureWoman said...

Wow, look at all of those cedar waxwings Mary! That's a great photo, as all of your photos are. Oh dear Mary, my heart goes out to you and your Dad. My Mom and I will be "visiting" my Dad this weekend. Which is really tough, too. I'll be thinking about you. Hugs to you and him.

dmmgmfm said...

I know how hard it is for you Mary. Please know that my thoughts are with you.


~Red Tin Heart~ said...

Mary, I wish I was there to give you a hug and make you a cup of tea. My heart is so sad right now for you. I will pray for your Dad and for you dear Mary. love nita

Anonymous said...

Oh Mary,
I understand too, completely. Tonight & this weekend I'll be visiting my parents, both are 91, in an assisted living residence in Williamsburg. It's REALLY HARD to see your parents, those closest souls to your heart, in more pain, with new medicines, yeah. I guess there are a lot of us treading this road. I will keep you in prayer this weekend.

Annie in Austin said...

You can't fix your Dad, but maybe you can interest or amuse him. My thoughts are also with you this weekend, Mary - and hope you can make each other smile, even if he's not sure who you are!

I don't know if you saw the recent movie "Away From Her" with Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis? Its focus was not on parent being left at the home by their children, but on one spouse having to take the other to a care facility. It's a good movie, but bring tissues.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Larry said...

It's tough visiting someone who is not the way you remember them from years back.

I visited my grandfather often when he went in to the nursing home and it can be draining to try to make conversation with someone who isn't communicating much.-I always try to remember that a person is taking in more than they might show.

Holy smokes! That's a lot of waxwings!-Glad the rain is coming-it made it here too.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Taking your photos with you is a wonderful idea--especially those of your animals. Animals have a way of bringing peace to so many, especially when not in good health.
I understand your unsettledness about the visit. When past memories are so happy, the contrast with what now may be can seem very harsh. Hard to not feel the pangs.
My thoughts go with you--I, too, understand this time.

Bill said...

It's been WAY TO LONG since I checked your blog, Mary! Your pictures make me want to get this camera crackin since this fall beauty will be faded and gone soon. Your words of reflection hit so close to home. Reading the comments as I did....especially those of "naturegirl".... show the chord you have hit with a lot of us. Thanks for the gift of you, your blog and your insights on life. I'll be a better blogger because of it.
"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have."

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I really like the picture of the grasshoper on yours. For a moment I thought it was just a stick!

kate said...

I hope the visit goes well ... it's good that you are spending time with your father even if it breaks your heart.

Thankfully there are all sorts of good things in life that lift our spirits and let us enjoy the moments that we have here.

David said...

Mary, I'll say a prayer for Lynne's mom, your dad, and you. I hope you have a good visit with your dad.

Alyssa said...

Oh, life sure throws some challenges our way! I can't imagine going through what you are. It is good, though, that your father isn't in pain and he really doesn't know what is happening to him. Try to find something positive in your visits and just keep plugging along. My thoughts and loving-kindness are with you.

Cathy said...

Oh Mary, Mary,

Tender heart. You give words to all the inchoate feelings we aging children have as we struggle with the pain of saying goodbye - again and again.

You break my heart and then restore me with a smile. Those dear, funny pups. No wonder they follow you to the bathroom door and listen for your car in the driveway.

You are precious.

Sending you a hug . . .