“Keeping the Humor”

Photo and words by Megan Saint-Marie

My mother is 86, going on 87. These last few years have been a series of Sunday breakfasts talking about squirrels pouring syrup on themselves and other such sentences that form in the brain when you no longer can hear, and just try to read lips. Don’t misunderstand me, she is still quite bright, with no dementia, just fanciful interpretations of her daughter’s sentences.

The Covid-19 situation has taken this humorous quote, to one of complete frustration.

Yes, most of us have the phone, and online platforms that allow us to communicate, but with the lack of technology skills and the deafness progressing, these are becoming non-options.

My mother was a teacher, a therapist, and an early childhood educator who is truly one of the wisest people I know….she doesn’t chat about the same profound spiritual experiences, or use the language that I do, but hands down, that woman is SOLID.

That being said, it is enormously frustrating that at this point she is sequestered up 13 floors. We talk on the phone but only get in a few sentences before it becomes “squirrels in syrup” again.

Just as I am trying to express my feelings, or share a sweet story, the curtain of deafness comes crashing to the stage floor, in all it’s bright red, crushed velvet, opera-like glory.

I’m sure she feels the same way, but because of her training, she deflects and starts down a different road, always keeping it light and onwards towards a better outcome.

I recognize that my frustration comes from having children in their 20’s and parents in their 80’s , and trying to bridge the gap. My parents grew up with parents who lived during, and had loved ones die in the last pandemic. My grandmother’s little brother, Francis, died at four of the pandemic, leaving my grandmother with a prevailing patina of fear the rest of her life.

We are all trying to do our best to stay connected. Recently I was trying to help my mother fix her email situation over the phone, when she paused and said, “Wait a minute so I can put on my little old lady voice”. I got quiet, and she came back on the line in a high, squeaky, almost Disney-like character voice. “Hi Megan, it’s your mother, and I’m a little old lady who can’t do computers.” Then we both laughed and she said in her normal voice, “Well, I may not have email, and am losing my hearing, but at least I still have my sense of humor.”

Thanks mom. You truly are a wise woman.

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