no writing this summer: here’s why

I didn’t do any writing this summer, unless you count one handwritten letter sent back home to my family. Instead, I spent my time off in 2021 moving my mother, 87, from her apartment in Amelia Island, Florida, to assisted living in Louisville, close to me.

If you’ve never transitioned a parent to assisted living before, be prepared for the future: it’s epic. In February, she developed dementia. In late June, Dan, her live-in companion, died suddenly of a heart attack. As I am essentially an only child at this point (long story not for the internet) and designated power of attorney, what happened next was up to me.

I spent a month living with her and arranging all aspects of her new phase of life, from finances, to insurance, bills, medical care, shopping, meals, arranging movers and an estate sale, and, of course, finding a place for her and her dog to live. Finally, I drove her and her plump chihuahua Sadie for two days in a small car stuffed with belongings.

I had plenty of emotional support – from my family, friends, relatives. Difficult as she can be at times, with or without dementia, I love my mother and was and am proud to perform this duty. But it was still the cause of nightmares and trauma.

I’d like to say she’s settled and adjusting, but unfortunately, it wasn’t several days after I moved her in that the unit went into covid quarantine, from which she has not emerged since the beginning of August. And many health challenges continue to crop up. There’s also a long period of adjustment for me, as I learn to fit her into my family routine, and learn how to care for an elderly parent with dementia. This caring includes understanding and forgiving her emotions as well as mine. That is not easy!

Always ready, I had packed my fountain pens, ink, paper, my typewriter, laptop, and my guitar for the 800-mile drive down. I did practice and play guitar. When I play for her she perks up and becomes more herself. But my brain could not wrap itself around fiction or poetry in those rare times I had to myself. It was too beat up, exhausted, sweat-soaked.

Slowly, I find my mind leaning towards creation again. I’ve picked up a pen and scribbled on a page. I’ve had a little time so far this month to hold my chin in my hands, stare at the rain outside the window, and let my mind wander to images. While I seem to no longer know why I write or who I’m writing to or for (another story), whether with or without confidence in myself or future publication, the old urge shows hints of life.

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