Other Lives for Other Times

sunset at Mount McKay

sunset at Mount McKayTHUNDER BAY – HEALTH – As I listened to labored breathing of the woman who brought me into this world in the very hospital where she gave birth to me some 56 years earlier I feel emotions that I never knew existed.

The hospital is small, retaining a warmth and hospitality that is so hard to capture in the caverns of technology that dominate today’s system. The hallways are a testament of art dedicated to loved ones long past with dates that tell stories of memories stretching effortlessly in a future unknown.

The machinery of end of life shifts dutifully around us with each doctor, nurse and cleaner doing the tasks of daily life amidst so much departure. Working as they think about what to feed the kids for dinner and the big wedding they have this weekend or what to take to camp. All around swirls the activity of life as those confined in beds with scattered families in attendance weigh in on their own mortality and how to say goodbye.

Over the months I would visit and my mother in various hospitals as like nomads of a foreign land we are moved from room to room as needs shift and priorities move us along on this mysterious horizon.

It seems that television often used to preoccupy the young now preoccupies the infirm, the elderly and sick. As if watching life on a screen can serve to lessen the reality that so painfully embraces their imagination. Each show serving to hit a switch that ignites memories as painful and joyful as “Songs that Made the Hit Parade” and the haunting sound of “Coronation Street” beckoning one with other lives for other times.

Home and Garden Television smashing down walls, building decks and painting bedrooms goes on like a nocturnal monster of change where the very thought of my mother getting up and looking out a window is imperceptible.

The powerful emotions of the binds that tie families together now serve to tear them apart. The strengths and weaknesses are placed front and centre for all to see as we travel up and down on the rollercoaster of life without the guard rail of our mother. Put on clean underwear you might get hit by a car, don’t go there you might get mugged. These memories of constant refrains of caution in a dangerous world now seem so small and meaningless as the greatest danger lay before us watching time turn seconds into hours and hours into forever.

Who are we and what is the purpose of this life? The hospital feels like a time machine. It’s where we enter this world and from where I’m sitting with mother at this moment it’s where we leave. The shuffle and clamour of those working to maneuver this procedure serves to remind us that we are indeed just guests in this world. Grateful for the visit, some are anxious in faith while others are desperate to stay not ready for goodbyes.

I know that suddenly another room has come available for my mother. The kind nurse informs us that it’s a much nicer room. We once again prepare to move in our nomadic hospital journey.

The pain of one room has inadvertently opened the portal of heaven for another as the waiting room of life continues its perpetual march through time. Mom turns on the television as my heart fills with the memories of this very moment.

Mom passed away on July 21st.

Andre Morriseau

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