As children, we may find ourselves thinking of our parents and letting our minds drift into the future, to the day when they are older and about to leave us.
We may think of that and find ourselves filled with sadness at the very thought.
I know I did.
And now, it appears, that day is becoming very real for me. That sadness is there.
I can’t say that it’s overwhelming me right now. Maybe that day has yet to come. My mother has had dementia for a number of years. She started slipping away mentally for real a few years ago. The last time I was able to carry on a decent conversation with her, she thought my daughter was my “friend” when we walked into her room at the care center.
Yet she could still look at photos of horses she used to ride, remembering their names and experiences with them.
Then there were times I’d visit her and few if any words were exchanged.
Then there was a time when no words at all were exchanged. That’s lasted quite a while.
At some point, there was an unofficial goodbye to the mother I’d known through many years. Now, I’m about to say goodbye for real. She’s at the point she’s being given end-of-life care now.
I’m sad, no doubt about it. I still get choked up at the thought of a more final goodbye to this woman who gave so much to her family, who worked so hard to provide, much of it all by herself without a spouse.
At the same time, I want her to rest high on that mountain now.
I’ll be going to the mountains of Salmon today, to my hometown, to those high mountains my mother has loved so much her entire life. I’ll be going to say goodbye to a mother who’s always been dear to me, who’s given me an example of the kind of person I need to be, giving me an example I could pass along to my own children.
We never want to reach this point when we’re children, especially when we imagine it being real.
It’s real now.
My work here will be left for a bit in the capable hands of a fine group of reporters to gather the news, and they will be helped on the editing side by a team from the Idaho State Journal. I thank them for their efforts, and I thank my publisher for giving me this time to say goodbye.
It’s never easy. But it’s time.
Go rest high on that mountain.