In The Parade - Mom and the Moonlight
One night during my last visit home, after dinner was cleaned up, my sister came into the kitchen and told me that Mom wanted to say good night.
I went in and knelt beside my mom’s bed. She looked at me and whispered, “The angels will come tonight and take me for a walk.” Her eyelids began to flutter, and as she drifted off to sleep, she said, “I’ll come and get you so you can walk with me.”
I kissed her hand and her forehead as she began to dream of happier times and better days, when she was unencumbered by the disease called Parkinson’s.
Parkinson’s is absolutely horrific. I have described its effects as akin to someone taking a block of ice and using a vegetable peeler, slowly shaving off portions of the block. With each sliver of ice shaved away goes part of my mom. I know that her mind is bright and she has life in the spiritual sense because her eyes glimmer and shine with every smile and every laugh. Unfortunately, the limitations of her body that she is so very aware of make every step, every word, every bite or swallow that much more of a hardship.
My mother was not always a religious woman. During my childhood, we rarely attended church services, mostly because my father thought that religion was a scam and that those who were believers had been duped. As I grew older, my extended family left the Catholic faith en masse for a much more conservative Protestant church. Snake handlers were too liberal for their pews. The views of this new-found church did nothing to alter my mother’s compassionate view toward others and toward the human condition.
The next evening of my visit, after dinner was finished and the dishes washed, dried and put away, my sister came in and said Mom wanted to wish me good night.
Kneeling once again, I held her hand and, in a hushed tone, we talked about her children and grandchildren. As sleep began to take over her mind and body, the tremors began to ease and her voice, small as a child’s, asked, “Will you pray with me?”
I listened as she prayed and I counted off the names of those she prayed for. When she finished, her eyes closed, and a tear ran down the side of her face. I noticed that she never once prayed for herself, so I prayed for her.
I once read these words from a 14th century Zen Buddhist priest: “Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain, but at the peak we all gaze at the single bright moon.”
At 46 years of age, I finally realized the level of comfort my mom receives from her faith and from her God. I also realized that night that even though I have removed myself far away from faith and religion, there is still a path that I can take up that mountain, and at the top, regardless of the journey, my mother and I will share the light of the same moon.