Friday, October 18, 2002


On my way to work this morning, I heard Leon Redbone's band doing "The Whistling Generals". Now there's a man who knows how to whistle beautifully. It puts a smile on your face and lightens the heart.

Why don't people whistle anymore? As Stuart Butler says in his poem, "Whistling", maybe it's because
"...Today there is less silence to break,
Less listless boredom to shake,
With Muzak attacking our heads
And radio alarms invading our beds..."
As long as I can remember, Mom has been a whistler. In fact, my earliest memories are of hearing my mother whistling. The tunes she whistled were sometimes borrowed, but as many times as not, they were made up on the fly as she went along. Her whistles were so strong and clear, you could hear them from some distance away.

I haven't heard Mom whistle for a long time. I hadn't thought about it until I heard that song this morning. I can only speculate as to why, but I think it's partly due to her grieving, and partly due to physical condition ... Sometimes it's like watching a clock running down. Just the other day she told me that she wants to crochet and embroider, still having the interest, but her motivation is just not there. She'll pick up a project, work on it a bit, then put it down. She glances at them, but the mood just isn't there.

I think if I was in her shoes, it would be very tough to feel motivated. Despite being in a facility where you can interact with others, there is still a lot of isolation that's difficult to get past. Every individual there has their own concerns, memories, and physical challenges to deal with. That takes a lot of emotional strength from a person, leaving them drained. Unless interaction comes to them in the form of caring friends and family, it's all too easy to fall into patterns of complacency, or even despondency.

Mom enjoys talking on the phone, and in person, just chatting about everyday things, or how she feels, or how others are. She calls each of my sisters and I regularly, and we talk. None of us probably feels we give her enough time. It's a tough balance. I don't want to someday look back and wish I had given more of my time. Mom is with us now.