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Frances braiding my hair, May 3, 1981, image courtesy of the Grahams


In the hour of the morning when I was supposed to be waking up, I was lost in a vivid dream. It could have been the ramification of the heavy grease on my stomach from the fish and fries last night or the day of exhaustive and tense thoughts. Somewhere in the middle of the dream is what I recall. I don’t know why, but I was driving a coach bus. There was an emergency situation that required one of the passengers to drive it. For whatever reason, I was the chosen one. On the bus were people that I knew from middle and high school. I knew that I did not know how to drive this bus but I managed to figure it out and drove the packed bus over a bridge that was similar to the Brooklyn or GW (George Washington). Once we got to the toll, I was told that we exceeded the height clearance and we were sent back. After that, we had to return the way we came and were issued a new bus. On this bus, I couldn’t reach or work the breaks. I remember barreling down the hill where there was already an accident, or some type of back up, and I was petrified, knowing that I wouldn’t be able to stop the bus. This dream was inexplicably vivid and made no sense; I didn’t know how to interpret it.

I started texting my mother in the afternoon to check on my grandmother’s condition. After a while, I decided I should just go over there and lay eyes on her myself. I felt that I might have become a pest with the questions. I took a long lunch and made my way over there. Today the nurse was supposed to stop by. The decision was made to prescribe morphine for my grandmother’s pain. She had begun to express pain when being moved as a result of a bedsore that they have been trying to actively address. It is known amongst all of us that my grandmother is not a complainer; she had never once over the years and conditions made one peep of anguish. But now that she has made it known in a grimace or sound that she is in pain, it must be to a very high degree.

Every detail is touch and go and she was not too responsive but at least she was awake this time. Having the capacity to talk to someone when you are not sure if they are even aware of your presence is difficult when it is someone you care about. If they are aware, you don’t want them to think that you have nothing to say, but if they aren’t, you can’t help but tailspin and talk about them as if they are not present. I have read that the latter is not ideal in hospice situations. A few days ago I fearfully decided to do some research on the internet to see if there were any guides or information about the end of life process. Needless to say there was. In all of them, they state that loved ones should not speak about the person as if they are not there. Assume that they can hear; it is one of the last senses that they will lose.

With that in mind, I began to tell my grandmother how I had worn the tunic on Wednesday for her and I began to describe it with all the hopes that she understood. While talking, I realized that the solution was to wear it again the next time I came over. In that conversation I thought she was present because there seemed to be some acknowledgement but then the conversation that I could piece together from her was about something green that needed to be cut. She said to, “put it on the rug and cut it.” I tried my best to go along with it as also recommended in the information that I read. I only hope I did my best. She called me “mother,” which made it more difficult. If I only I could see where she was in her mind. I responded by telling her that I will cut it, but I am not a good candidate because I have never been able to cut in a straight line. My mother was in the room. I am not sure what she thought about what I said. She may have thought I lost it. I was trying my best.

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