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The final days of life; the first days of life.

The Nonna died, with my pink teddy bear and the Midget’s crying mouse in her arms. Warm, peaceful, painless. Death.

I held a tiny baby in my arms. One week old, the son of a friend, lips twisting ready to smile. Warm, soft, sleepy. Life.

And my mind is twisted by this circle that I so regularly ignore, the inevitable, the potential.

If I knew how to cry, I know I’ve got a world of emotion struggling inside me, but I don’t know how. I don’t know what I feel. First shock. The phone call stating that there was nothing more that could be done, the life support the Nonna’s body depended on would be switched off. Her brain, damaged beyond repair. Her life ended. Her breathing, once the ventilator was removed, steady but raspy. The snoring predicted and normal sounded a familiar imitation of The Mother.

Yet, throughout, her hand in mine was warm. The night passed and the sun rose, the sleepless night exhausting. Her breathing became more laboured. Gentle nurses injected drugs, brushed her teeth, applied lip-salve, and kept her eyes the picture of peace.

The end came eventually, as it does for all of us.

And in another room, a life was only beginning.

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Changing Clocks

Outside, in the half-dark that is early morning, I de-iced the car to take the Mother to work.* She helped, finding the de-icer and doing most of the work. I started the engine.

As I pulled out onto the main road, the Mother looked angrily at the dashboard.

“The clock hasn’t gone forward.” The tone of her voice made it clear she was accusing my car of somehow being faulty.

“He’s an old car.” I said, “Bertie doesn’t know he’s got the wrong time.”

She appeared distressed by this idea. Clearly her daughter was driving an inefficient car. She explained that her iPad doesn’t have to be told that the time needs changing. I explained that Bertie was more like the oven than an iPad, and just like the Father had to change the clock on the oven, I would have to change the clock on the dashboard.

“Or you could do it?”

“How?” Car maintenance and clock changing are not normally areas the Mother takes responsibility for.

“If you press the  ‘H’ button…” unfortunately, the Mother’s sight isn’t everything it used to be, “…the top button.”

And, with a single click of the ‘H’ button the time was corrected. Bertie has a simple clock. The numbers loop in one direction. There’s a button for hours and a button for minutes and you press them until the clock reads the right number.

It’s amazing how much of an impact technology is having on what is considered normal. The Mother needing to be told how to change a clock reminds me of the Grandmother not recognising the save button icon as a floppy-disc (she calls it the TV button). And whilst these little hiccups are sweet and make me smile, the frustration was palpable.

*Somehow I then managed to become sun-burnt by lunchtime.

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