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Four in a Photo

Forget-Me-Nots, Acrylic
Facebook showed me a picture from Georgia, 6 years ago. A memory.
My mother was still alive, happy, sitting upright in her wheelchair. 
She knew who I was, then. Although she would forget within a year.
Alex wasn’t perfectly well, but good enough. He could work and travel and smile. 
He knew who I was then, too. He still does, often, but that won’t last.

A nurse must have taken the picture. Behind Mom’s wheelchair, a photographed-me leaned against Alex, smiling, almost silly. 
But knowing my mother would die, sooner or later 
(Three years later, in fact. Almost to the day -- her birthday.)
I went down to see her because I knew I wouldn’t know when she would crash. 
How fast or how slowly.  Just that the darkness of dementia would blot out her mind, probably before the rest of her body gave out. 
I couldn’t plan the best time to say good-bye. So I said it whenever I could.

What I didn’t know that I didn't know was in six-years time, my husband would be as ill as my mother was then.  
I thought our future would be largely like our past -- what I still think of as our real life -- perhaps a little paler, a little diminished. But not me sitting next to him and him calling out to the room, pleading for his wife to come get him because he forgot I was there. A room I rarely leave because I know how it can terrify him if I'm not there.

There was a fourth in the photo. My son was deployed. But sitting next to my mom’s wheelchair was our new daughter-in-law. Such a tonic. 
My mom didn’t fully remember her. Still, she knew this woman was special – special to her grandson. 
The specifics couldn’t stick in her mind. But love still pierced Mom’s understanding.

My son is deploying again, this week or next. He came to see us last month, while his father still knew him. We hope he can return to his dad still in this state when he returns to the States.

This wasn’t really a dream. Just a reverie. A reverie about the Realm of Tempus Fugit.
And a woman who thinks she knows, more or less, what the lay of the future land will be.
But does not.

For April 25, write an aisling, an Irish poetic form that recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.

Author’s note: I stretched the form slightly. My memories, my fears, and I had the discussion.

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