Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Train Conductor

I visited my mother today and after breaking her hip in November, she is now suffering dementia and is cared for well in a rehabilitation center. The last several times I was with her, she kept talking about being on a train. One day, she talked about a pilot on a plane, and she is afraid of flying.

My mother was reluctant to go on the train ride because she might miss her stop. When she was a young girl, she overshot her train stop once and it caused her to be fearful. Since she kept talking about traveling language, I let her know that I know the conductor and that he told me specifically that he would look after her. He would make sure she was comfortable and safe and would arrive at her location at the right stop and at the right time. I told her that I already paid for her ticket and she did not need any money because all her needs were already covered. She felt relieved.

She asked whether she would know anyone. I said, "O, yes. You will see Dawn Mari, Aunt Betty, your mother and father, your friends from the Air Force, and many other people who want to greet you and give you a big warm hug." She said, "Really? They'll all be there?" I said, "Yes, they are very excited because you are going to see them soon."

My mother started crying and she shook her fists fervently. I asked, "How are you feeling?" She said, "I'm so happy. These are happy tears. I want to see them again."

7 comments:

  1. Well, this is so moving. It shows how great an empathy you have with her, in taking on the same metaphor language she uses. When I studied 'accompany of terminal ill patients' this was the biggest challenge: to follow whatever the person would say and keep up with his/her conversation. I am sure this must have been a very touching moment for you ANd her. Thx for sharing it.

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    1. Thanks Annie. I might use this in my homily for this week. My poor mother. It was so beautiful to see her transformed form despondency and fear into excitement.

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  2. Oh John...you have such a loving and sensitive soul. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

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  3. Thank you for sharing. I will remember this. In May I will graduate as a mental health clinician from Loyola MD's pastoral counseling program. Your journey with Mom is special.

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    1. Thanks, Madeline, for your prayers and for your compassion. Congratulations on your impending graduation. Well done.

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