Waves on the beach......... The watch goes on.....

    I am now alone with mom.  At the moment the only sound is from the oxygen machine that pumps in a steady rhythm, the sound reminding me of gentle waves coming onto a sandy beach.  I am  sitting next to mom's bed, holding her hand and watching her breath.  Her breathing is shallow and at times erratic but it goes on.
     As I sit here I can't help but think of the many times that mom sat with one of her children nursing her child back to health.   With five children, there were lots of colds, flues,  strep throats and other illnesses that gave mom concern.  I remember the many times she would sit with me, reading a book or singing to me until I drifted off to sleep.  Her loving care would get me through the night,  gently and sweetly making me feel as if I was her only priority, her only worry in the world.
     I also am reminded of the day I first saw mom after two major hospital stays and twice coming close to death,  I sat with mom at my sister's house and explained that the reason I had been so sick.  I had AIDS.  I had been worried about telling her because I had no idea how she would react.  Besides,  she was in her eighties and I wasn't sure if she even knew about HIV or AIDS.   I had no reason to worry.  Mom and I sat together on Joy's couch, just the two of us,  as I tearfully said the words,  "Mom, I have AIDS. "  Her reaction was swift and totally unexpected.   She put her arm around me,  held me tightly and said, "That's okay,  as long as you get better."  I asked if she understood what having AIDS meant.   She nodded and said that she understood a little about HIV/AIDS and what she didn't know,  she would learn.  Tears streamed down my face as mom silently held me in her loving arms.   And true to her word, when she got back home to Rochester, she immediately called and signed up for the Red Cross HIV Instructor course.  She ended up being the oldest in the state to take the course at that time.  That was the kind of mother she was,  always ready to do what was needed to help and support her children.    
     Now things have changed, the tables have turned and I am the caretaker.  I am now the one sitting by mom's bed.  So here I sit, holding her hand and talking about all the fun we used to have and all our shared memories.
     And I watch her breath.
                               And I listen to the oxygen machine.
                                                       And I remember..........


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