Poppies From Mom

Poppies in Connemara. September 4, 2011, used by permission. All rights reserved.
I saw a field of poppies – pink and yellow and red – flit and sway in an autumn breeze. Monet's famous gardenscapes. Wild. Carefree. Dancing gleefully beneath an ancient gnarly oak. Out on Galway Bay the Aran Islands were but misty shrouds. Whether by
weather or tears – hazy in that noon time glare.

And I thought of you mom.

You and Dom. Somewhere in another realm. You a gleeful Miss
Socialite catching up with friends long gone. The proverbial
kettle filled and refilled. And you danced Mom. Skipped even.
It reminded me of Nathaniel's wedding when those feet of yours just
kept going, and going. You swinging and twirling the night away.
Giggling. Eyes dancing too. Here in your new world Dom enjoys
a song or two enshrouded by such abundant love. He is content.
Peaceful. Somehow I know he's relishing the life he lived, the
loves he knew.

But you Mom?
You are wild.
And carefree.
You just cannot get enough yapping, dancing or laughing in. I
think of Martin Luther King – "Free at last. Thank God almighty
free at last." And even with the gray drizzle and buffeting winds
outdoors, I can only smile. Smile at what delight you must feel
within. I think a day will come when justice for you is successful.
Will I feel that same free abandonment for you? For us?

Your solicitors have abandoned all pleas for prosecution – even
protect your youngest, your abuser. But I'm stubborn Mom. Blood
hound, Rottweiller? No. Just a daughter seeking truth. Trying to
stop this cycle of violence and crime amid archaic systems and
bureaucrats, family who'd leave your legacy, as is – Dead old
Ireland's useless society. The hideaways. Hundreds,
thousands of closed cases. Abandoned. Stories and lives that have
no value.

It's been almost a year since your unexplained admission. Eighteen
months since I first reported elder abuse. I don't give up Mom.
I see him pace behind your bedroom window. Back and forth. The
spittle flying from mouth to mobile. Back and forth and the night
chill freezing your arthritic shoulders. And what of the broken
shoulder aching in that night chill?

In the bed beneath I can only imagine you curled up. Although I
don't want to go there, I see you – frightened. Stare of sorrow. I see
that same slant of your lips, the one I remember when as a child
I spied you grieving, upset, worried. The same twist of lip I am
apt to carry when worried or upset, and your grand–daughter too.
The pasted gaze of this too shall pass. Are you tied in caught–up
flex and cords as before, Mom? Can you even cry out? Or has he
silenced that too.

The unusualness of it is enough to stop your neighbours in their
tracks. Question all the open windows at the front of the house.
12:20a.m and the light clearly illuminates your youngest – pacing
back and forth – agitated – hours before an ambulance is called.
He is house cleaning. Discarding items from your open bedroom
window, his open bedroom window, where it clatters and bounces
into the Dumpster beneath.

Why not tending you Mom in your bed beside? Making you
comfortable? Keeping you warm? Chatting to you if you're not
sleepy? Instead he paces. Back and forth and flings the items
down, one by one, by twos, from windows to Dumpster. 12:20 am.
Loud enough to disturb uneasy neighbours. Agitated enough that
the image is imprinted and recollected in clear detail. Over and
over. And over. It replays too in my mind's eye. I let it because I
know that frenzy Mom. It's the same that accosted me that Dec.
evening we tried to share tea. When your youngest screeched at
me, at you, blocked our access in the kitchen, and the living room.
Close enough for me to wonder would clenched fists hit at me or
you. Close enough to spy the food between his teeth and the stale
breath. Close enough to feel the spittle fly and smack. Like his
dad he was. That same rage burning in his shaking hands, jitterbug
dancing and howling like a toddler fit to kill. Close enough to
see his deadened empty gaze. Close enough for me to recognize
he knew I was one witness that would not be silenced. He didn't
dare. Which is why he kept you isolated. From me. From your
children. From your family. If that wasn't enough he hid your
hospitalisation from those who loved you, even the Elder Abuse
who were supposedly monitoring you missed this one.

I couldn't even touch you Mom. You lay in that CCU and your
youngest directed staff to refuse me entry. And they did Mom.
Ireland's archaic systems at work. Your rights violated. Mine also
by kith and kin. For two days I waited outside, peering through the
glass, thrilled to hear your voice or catch a quick glimpse behind
the curtain as staff rotas changed. While your heart continued to
congest and fail, mine howled within. I was a victimised child
again, bullied, abused, disregarded. This time the perpetrator was
your son, the hospital another of his many minions. Hour by hour,
I waited as one by one my siblings lined up and sat with you. The
horror one of my blood had such sickness within. That his actions
could be facilitated by systems, friends, family and hospital are
still beyond my comprehension. So you see Mom there are levels
to mourn this past year. The apathy of inaction. The grieving of
lost siblings who cannot bear the truth. I sometimes even grieve
that I cannot let go.

Forget. Move on. Then I see you clinging to armchair, arthritic
handhold searching blindly, an aged body struggling to stand up
to the sound of a car door slamming. The look on your face,
your tilted lips, eyes shuttered, your yapping, giggling all gone
as the door whacked against phone table. Your youngest's arrival that
December evening before he forced you into his car and up to Bray.

"I just want peace and quiet," you'd said. Me too mom. And justice.

Poppies in Connemara. September 4, 2011, used by permission. All rights reserved.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day UN Declaration of Human Rights European Year for Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity Towards a Society for All Ages