Friday, August 23, 2019

Pleasant Hill

My view from Pleasant Hill. Little has changed here in sixty years.
I've never thought of the house where I grew up in Martinsville as "Pleasant Hill," but my Mom always has. Some years ago, she had a plaque made that bears the name, which she affixed to the outside wall next to the front door. Thus, when visitors came round, which they once did frequently, they knew then and there they had arrived on Pleasant Hill.

This is one of those very personal blogs I am sometimes compelled to write. I'm all about sharing my blog entries, and I hope those of you who visit do enjoy them; however, I do often go into details that surely mean little or nothing to you. But they do to me, and I can't count how many times I've looked back at events I've recorded here and thanked the lord I posted what might appear to be the most trivial day-to-day events. I will tell you, I treasure my memories, especially since for the last few years I've been watching, up close and personal, what it's like to lose everything that has defined a beloved individual, established her identity, made that person who she is — or was — over the course of a lifetime. My mom is a walking ghost, a caricature of the unique person she was. Having lived with this steady decline since 2015, I've come to dread more than anything else losing such vital components of who I am. To become a hollow shell, devoid of all the little details and nuances that define my existence. The tenets of my soul, if you will.
The front porch

I'm here with Mom several times a month to look after her, to handle her affairs, to make sure she's safe when her regular nurses are off. I essentially manage two lives, mine and hers, and yes, there are times it is overwhelming. I cannot deny that I have on occasion utterly lost my shit over the whole business, and I suspect that any of you who have dealt with a loved one suffering from Alzheimers/Dementia can relate. While my dad's long, slow physical decline was horrific enough, until the end, Dad was still Dad. He was never a stranger, an imposter. A ghost. Not like my mom.

On these occasions when I'm here at Pleasant Hill, I often take some time to reflect on life, my family's past, the experiences I've had here over the past sixty years. To remember, even relive, what was mostly joy at this place. Certainly, no home, no life, is perfect, but I was fortunate enough to have the most loving parents a person could hope for, to grow up in a beautiful home, provided by my dad and nurtured by my mom. There was never a more gentle, loving, intelligent, empathetic soul than my mom. The person upstairs bears a superficial resemblance to her, but so little remains of who she truly was. Her body is still functioning, and may yet for some time, but I couldn't have grieved more for her than if she had already passed away.

When she was of sound mind, Mom requested that I write her obituary. She felt I would do her life justice. I had considered writing it tonight, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it, and so I sat down to write this instead.

Once Mom is gone, Pleasant Hill is supposed to pass on to me, should circumstances permit. Who knows if they actually will. Whether the place does or doesn't, right now, I have a lifetime of memories here, and I fervently desire to retain them. Of course, we don't always have a choice in such matters. If offered the choice, I know Mom would never have chosen the place life has taken her, and thus those of us who love her so.

When I am here in Martinsville, I never fail to have a drink or two to Pleasant Hill. Before life is over and done with, I imagine I will have drunk a few more.

Bless you all.
My view as I write.
A pleasant little corner of the kitchen with the wine bottle lamp Ms. B. and I made for Mom a few years ago.
A bit of history on the family room wall


Samaire Provost said...

I love this blog post. You have a wonderful way of writing about your mom and childhood home.

Samaire Provost said...

I love this blog post. You have a wonderful way of writing about your mom and childhood home.

James Robert Smith said...

I hope you and Pleasant Hill end up together. It seems right that it should be so.

I am sorry for the situation with your mom. Such condition runs in the females on my mom's side of the family. One of my aunts slowly succumbed to that, but of course I didn't have to witness it, that task going to her children. My own mother never had to fall victim to the full effect of it, because her body gave out before her mind.

My sympathies, Mark. Deeply, sincerely felt.

I only knew your parents in the most oblique manner, but they always (as you know) struck me as being completely and almost iconically mid-20th Century American, in the finest and most admirable ways.