What color is giving up? Black and white. And Grey. Deep purple on a good day.
What does giving up sound like? Silence. And nonsense. Paranoia and despair. And anger.
What does giving up look like? Well, that I can tell you more about.
It looks like an all-but-blind person boxing up her special tape player to return to the Library for the Blind. The one that has been by her side in her chair, in bed, at the table since she could no longer see to read.
It looks like a bird lover no longer thinking to ask if the feeder has syrup; maybe no longer caring.
It looks like my fighter mother no longer insisting on setting the table or emptying the dishwasher because “it’s something I can do and I need to do what I can.”
It looks like my stubborn mother finally letting me cook her Malt-o-Meal for her, with “two Medjool dates each cut in five pieces.” (Control has not yet gone).
It looks like an old woman—who never even used a cane in the house—using a walker at all times.
It looks like my active mother—who has long bragged she has stayed limber by continuing to go up and down the stairs in the house several times a day—no longer using the stairs without help, and rarely at that.
It looks like a great-grandmother, who loves her offspring more than life, not letting herself enjoy the active company of a great-grandson who adores her.
It looks like giving in without a whimper to letting me fully re-purpose the family room—my previous partial attempts having been met with horror—to make a space for the active great-grandson, and for me.
Piles of magazine articles and folders of collected quotes, greeting cards, craft ideas, sewing and typewriter supplies filled the room for decades. Clippings of family achievements and letters from children and grandchildren; thousands of slides and photographs of family, relatives, friends, nature, trips, and the house and valley view through the decades fill shoe and shirt and stationery boxes on cupboard shelves, two tables, a counter, two bookcases, the hearth. We have all tried many times to organize it all and help her with albums and scrapbooks, but no one has the time or patience to follow the life-consuming project through.
Giving up looks like no longer caring that the projects are not going to be finished in her lifetime.
It looks like dementia finally settling into a brain, robbing her of reason, lashing out at those who love her and care for her.
It looks like not eating her favorite foods.
It looks like a forever lover of the wonders of the natural world giving away the kitchen-counter part of her heart-rock collection.
It looks like giving up hope as she ceases the search for a cure for old age, that I wrote about in this blog in March 2013: Hope Dies Last. It was frustrating then, am I wanting it back now? Perhaps not, but wasn’t there supposed to be something in between?
It looks like nightmares of people—including those she loves—attacking her, her mother, her husband.
It looks like fear.
It looks like letting go, except not with intention or grace.
It looks like dark December of my mother’s 100th year.
It looks like sadness.
But still I cling to the hope of good days smattered among the bad. My work begins in earnest to help her find the light where we can.