I had a wild conversation with my mother the other day. Often, our conversations revolve around family, food or the weather. On this day, I was sitting behind her, rubbing Bengay on her back (another fall). She says, “Sometimes I wonder why I’m not dead.”
“I’m 84 and feel like Hell,” she said. “People die all the time.”
“What do you think happens when we die?” I asked.
She turned and gave me ‘the look’. “Well, if you’re lucky you go to happy-happy land, I guess. I hope.”
We were brought up Catholic, complete with catechism and holy days of obligation. “You mean, like Heaven?”
“I don’t believe in Heaven,” she said.
I was stunned. “What do you mean? What’s happy-happy land then?”
“It’s where you’re always happy,” she said.
“Do you think you’ll see Dad there?” I asked.
Again, the look. “No!!” And she really drew out the ‘o’.
She says, “If you were bad, you turn into a rock and someone kicks you down the street.”
“And if you’re good, you go to happy-happy land?” I ask.
“I think when we die, we go into another person. We become a baby again and forget about our old life,” she says.
Again, I am completely stunned. She’s never been philosophical, never talked much about death or spirituality and certainly never let on that she believes in reincarnation…except to say she’d come back and haunt us if we dare have a wake for her when she dies, because she doesn’t want anyone she didn’t like when she was alive, seeing her dead.
“Do you believe in God?”
She paused before saying, “I believe in something bigger.”
“You pray though. I’ve seen you,” I said.
“Yeah, but I just talk…like I talk to you or your brothers.”
“Well, you know, mostly to keep you all safe and sometimes we talk about new recipes.”
My mother and I have NEVER spoken to each other like this and I’m loving it!
Then she adds, “And that you would all be happy, because it is hard being happy. You know? Unless there is a happy-happy land. That would be nice.”
“Do you think you’ll be happier in your new life?”
“I hope so,” she said.
“I hope so too,” I said, wanting to hold her and cry (knowing she’d probably sock me one if I did), yet so glad that I hadn’t been in a rush or needed to be somewhere else. Happy I was wholly there to have this conversation with her.
Be good to yourself-
And please check out the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project and all the good work they do, founded by Gary Glazner at http://www.alzpoetry.com/.