Monday, April 19, 2010

Be Here Now

Nell with Lipstick
Pencil on Paper 5 x 8 (from my sketchbook)

I was on the road for work for the past seven days. Coming home to Vancouver in April smells like heaven. I'll confirm that for you when I get there, but I'm sure that heaven must smell like budding poplars and blossoming cherry trees.

One of my stops on my travels was Calgary, Alberta where I visited my mother, Nell.  She is 87, has Alzheimers and stays in a care facility as she needs 24 hour care. She knows I am family, although it is not always clear to her just which family member I might be - sometimes her aunt, sometimes her other daughter. I'm just happy that she has comfort in my presence.

Nell has become the person I imagine she was as a child. She lives in the moment, aware of her immediate surroundings and her physical sensations far more than any outside expectations. As sad as it has been to see my mom lose her memory, there is something quite moving that comes from being with her now. Her life held many struggles that caused her depression, tension, and stress. All of that is gone and now she simply "is." She could be a model for the old seventies book Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass. 

Nell goes from moment to moment, breath to breath, meal to meal. Her attention is on what she sees in front of her. She still has language skills, but not much logic, no cunning, no ability to hide anything, no chance to trick herself or those around her, no need to pretend she is something she is not, no attempt to live up to someone elses' expectations, no worry about money or the future or the past.  Like a child, she is aware of hunger, fatigue, pain, heat, cold. She watches the people around her and seeks company when she needs it, but otherwise is content with the smallest of activities. She puts on lipstick. Her dresser drawers are tidy. She eats until she is full.

I see some lessons in there.


  1. So sad for you Shelley, but you seem to have found some sort of acceptance in her 'just being'. A gentle loving sketch.

  2. Nell sounds absolutely lovely. And you are right... I see some lessons in there too.

  3. How wonderful, Shelley, that you are able to see all the good in your mom right now. And what a great treat to see the lessons she is still teaching.

  4. Thank you all for your kind comments.