Saturday, December 4, 2010

S'agapo, I Love You!

For the past several years I've made it a tradition to post this particular short story of mine because it brings out so many emotions in me. I hope you enjoy.

S'agapo...I love you
by Lea Schizas

The lights of the nursing room were unusually bright this Christmas Eve night. An outsider had visited Mrs. Sophia Adamopoulos earlier in the day. She brought a Greek dish, pastitsio, filling the halls with its aroma of cinnamon and pasta…a welcome change from the lingering odors of Lysol and urine.

The nurses greeted her, comforted her and explained the state her mother was in.

Armed with the latest update, Maria Adamopoulos stepped into her mother’s surroundings. Childhood memories hit her hard. The vision of her mother combing her beautiful long tresses and hugging her as she said, "Maria, s'agapo, I love you", enveloped her heart. Her mother cheering her at every track meet, making sure she was never late. Her mother’s laughter filling the house with joy as Maria practiced her words for Saturday's Greek school. All these images flashed before Maria as she faced the cold aberration she stepped into. No embroideries hung on the walls like in their family home. Mom's cassette player playing the cherished Greek songs she sang to, was missing, as well.

But the single picture that broke her heart was to see her mother sitting by the window, emptily staring, not outside at the panoramic garden view but at the empty walls within.

"Hello, momma." As Maria approached to hug her, Mrs. Adamopoulos flailed her arms in front of her, terrified.

"Who are you? Help me!"

The nurse ran in and immediately soothed her.

"Sophia, Sophia, calm down, you have a visitor. This is your daughter, Maria. She's come a long way to see you." Maria felt like running and shaking her mom to the present, to try and get her out of this Alzheimer stupor that gripped her.

Guilt rose in Maria. She thought I should never have listened to my brother. I should have stuck to my guns and brought mom back to Greece. Her brother had stopped visiting. He told Maria mom doesn’t recognize me, so why bother. Maria was here to bring her mother back home.

Sophia stared at Maria as if trying to bring about a memory forever lost in this mind disease. The nurse left them alone once more.

Slowly, Maria again approached her mother. "Look, ma, I made your favorite dish." She gently lifted the tinfoil and let her mother take a look.


"Yes, momma. It's Maria."

Tears flowed down Sophia's cheeks. "Where is my memory when I really need it," she cried.

That night the dim lights magically lit brightly as if Sophia's memory and those dim lights were one.

Maria had entered her mom's hospital room as a stranger, but for one magical moment her mother embraced her like she used to, a long time ago, whispering the words Maria needed to hear once again.

"S'agapo, Maria. I love you."


Rosalie Skinner said...

Such a sweet story Lea. The truth of Alzheimers doesn't always have a happy ending. Your story is beautiful. It cherishes the memories and the moments of clarity.

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

Such a beautiful story about the realities of Alzheimers and the pain of living with someone who has it. So bittersweet when the clouds parted and mom's memory returned. I had tears in my eyes at the ending. I see why you post this every holiday season. It exemplifies the true meaning of the holiday - love and peace.

Wendy said...

I'm touched. Misty eyed. I loved my mum too, but she was remote from me in a different way.

Viviane Brentanos said...

Beautifull story. It brings home to me the downside of moving to another country. My mother has Parkinson's and I wish I could be nearer.

Margaret Tanner said...

Very touching story Lea, brought tears to my eyes. I thank God that my parents both died before this horrible disease overtook them.

Best wishes


Liz Coldwell said...

This story really touches a nerve as I just found out a close friend's father died a few days ago of a dementia-related condition. The thing that's comforting her is the last time she saw him, he was lucid enough to tell her he loved her - and in the end, that's what really matters. My thoughts are with her and everyone with a parent suffering the same disease.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Beautiful, touching, emotional story. I felt Maria's pain at seeing her mother like that. You painted a very visual picture of the setting as well as the emotions inside Maria. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Absolutely wonderful. Thank you, Lea.

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

very touching. A friend whose mother had Parkinson's told me during one of her mother's lucid moments she told her, 'These were supposed to be my golden years.' It is so sad in what those diseases rob not only those taken by them but their family and loved one.

ChrisChat said...

Thank you

Sara Durham Writer ~ Author said...

Lovely story Lea. I've often thought one of the sadness things, would be the inablility to recognize my own kids and family. This story helps us remember what is really important this season. Thank you!


Heather Haven said...

Wow! That's really lovely. Any woman who loves her mother can appreciate it.

Karen McGrath said...

Beautiful story, Lea, thank you!

Anonymous said...

Lovely - brought memories and tears. Alzheimer's is tough, a slow loss of a loved one (sometimes years). I lived for those lucid moments. Bless you for sharing.

Charlie said...

Very touching. One takes the memory for granted and how very precious it is.

C.K. Volnek

Terri main said...

Very Poignant. Near the end of my Dad's battle with Alzheimer's, he couldn't speak. However, the day he passed away, my mother heard him say over and over, "Honey, Honey," She went right to his side, "Pretty Lady," he said weakly, "I love you." That evening he was with God.

Thank you for sharing this. It brought back that memory of the gift of a moment of clarity before departure.

Brenda Hyde said...

Dang you Lea, you made me all weepy. That is a wonderful story. It's amazing how much emotion and character you brought to it in so few words. It's lovely. (But, I hate getting weepy.)

My husband's grandma is in a nursing home, and isn't speaking now at all-she does smile and laugh. We go to visit with Chuck's mom, who is the only one she's really comfortable with, and seeing the way his mom is so patient with her mom is amazing, but it's sad for everyone too.

Lin said...

You took me back to the hospital room when I was eleven the day my Grandmother passed. Nonnie did not recognize her daughter, my Mother, but for one moment, Nonnie's fog cleared when I stepped in to see her. Her eyes focused, she said my name, and told me she would always love me. Twenty minutes later, she passed. I miss her every day, but her last words are forever engraved upon my heart.

Thank you, Lea.