I just spent a week with my mother in Florida, navigating the perils and indignities of very old age.  My mother is ninety-three and some of her body parts have outlasted others.  She is still doing pretty well physically, but two strokes and creeping dementia have limited her ability to talk and to remember.


This trip was unexpected.  I did not have much time for photographs (or blogs).  But, even so, the photographs I took show why we are trying to keep my mother living in her own home as long as possible.

IMG_2317Her yard is full movement and color, with anoles, flowers, and birds.


Her dock is a fish magnet and the sunsets and moonrises are extraordinary.


Fortunately, most days she manages short walks around her neighborhood circle or down to the jetties, where there are ospreys and manatees.



It’s hard to tell from these shots of a bit of back and flipper, but this was a manatee mother and calf.


It’s a lovely place, although getting very crowded.



My mother’s mother would hardly recognize it.


But it has been a constant in my mother’s long life for almost 60 years.


My mother’s favorite expression these days is ay-ay-ay-ay-ay.  That pretty much sums up my feelings about this trip–full of stress against a backdrop of beauty.


42 thoughts on “Ay-ay-ay-ay-ay

  1. I understand how you feel, the last year of my mother’s life was very stressful for me, as she gradually became frailer and had the beginnings of dementia….although she always loved flowers and birds and we spent a lot of time looking at both. Florida looks beautiful, and it is lovely that she can be in her home environment.

    • It’s a learning process. Although the main lesson that I’ve learned is that I don’t want to live to be 93! Thanks for the compliment on the photos–Florida is a rich subject. And your photos are lovely.

  2. Very well done. Despite the stress you have brought back some wonderful photos. As you know, we are going through a similar struggle to keep our Mum at home, but I guess it is easier as she doesn’t have dementia.

  3. It looks like your mum is surrounded by both beauty and the familiar, no doubt a great comfort in her older years. Bravo to you for doing all that you can to preserve this for her. The photos were an amazing glimpse into another landscape, thank you for sharing, best to you and your mum, and welcome home!

    • Thanks. It would be so much easier if we lived closer to her but her wishes were to stay put and it is an environment that is both familiar and stimulating. But it was so good to come home to Maine!

  4. For some reason, Brenda, I couldn’t post a response on your Word Press this morning and I am leaving for a train trip on Amtrak in a few hours so don’t have time to keep trying.

    Your photos are amazing, as always, but I wanted to let you know that my heart goes out to you as you go through this difficult time.



    • I don’t know what caused the problems with WordPress. Let me know if it happens again. Thanks for kind thoughts, Arlene. Enjoy your trip. I love a good train.

  5. Oh, you have my heartfelt sympathy, how I get the stress, it must be difficult for both you and your mum. What a paradise though, I can see why you would want to keep your mum there, especially as she enjoys all that wildlife so. I just loved the photos, such a treat!! What stunning wildlife, I’d live there like a shot.xxx

    • Mom is relatively happy, but she is like a little girl now. We have come full circle. As for where she lives, her neighborhood is like a little sanctuary, and provides her with daily stimulation and beauty. But the surrounding areas have become so clogged with people that I can’t wait to get out of there. It used to be a lazy, slow, relatively undiscovered area of Florida. Not any more.

      • How sad to hear that….such a shame that lovely places end up ruined…for the wildlife too. I get the full circle thing, being an orphan now….I want to pop off while I’m independent and have all my marbles, I suppose everyone does….it just creeps up on us, ailments….anyway, thinking of you and hoping it all works out. Loved the pics of the lizard creature and crest!!! xxx

  6. This post evokes a lot of emotion and feelings. The photos are beautiful – stunning in fact. Aging is not for the faint of heart. The body and mind start losing some of their skills and even though you rail against it, there is only so much you can do. I applaud your supporting your Mom, and I hope staying in such beautiful familiar surroundings helps her today and tomorrow. 🙂

    • I’m glad that my mom didn’t have a slow creep into dementia. She would have railed mightily. Instead, she had a stroke that suddenly changed her mental capacities and personality. She didn’t know what hit her and adjusted quite well. Now that things are slipping further, she is a bit bewildered though.

  7. Gosh, what fabulous wildlife. I’m so sorry to hear about the stresses and challenges of your mum’s declining health – it must be very difficult to deal with being so far away. I hope you’re able to forget about it for a while and enjoy your garden and dogs. x

    • Well, you zoned right in on my current problem, Sam. I am having trouble leaving this trip behind and keep fretting and worrying. I’m not very good at compartmentalizing!

      • Try doing something that you have to really concentrate on (yoga, complicated sewing, etc). Hope you get some fret-free time asap.

    • A good wish for all of us, isn’t it? It’s hard to hold onto stress as springtime unfolds in Maine. Planting onions and watching swallows. Life is sweet again.

  8. Such a beautiful place. It is part of many of our lives to be too far away for a quick visit and check in. That is worrisome and guilt inducing. Glad the garden is going in!

    • Yes, even though it is crowded now, Venice retains a magical quality. It was wonderful to get home to Maine. The crocuses are finally blooming, George is clearing, and we are pruning and planting. I love this time of year.

  9. Where your Mother lives looks wonderful she would certainly miss having all of that on her doorstep. I appreciate what you are going through it is so difficult especially when you don’t live close by. Thinking of you all. Sarah x

    • Thank you Sarah! My mother is very fortunate. When I go to nursing homes and rehab facilities–no matter how nice–I am struck by how many lonely, desolate people there are, just putting in their time until they die. Surely we can do better as a society.

    • Thanks on the photos. I was so busy in Florida that I hardly had time to enjoy the warmth and sun. I did get a quick ocean swim in though. It felt glorious. No red tide, no flesh-eating bacteria, but I was the only crazy northerner willing to go all in.

  10. That kind of thing is so difficult. On the upside, your mum is in a very privileged place and is lucky to have someone like you that loves and cares. All we can do is make things as easy as possible and bask in the fact that some people are part of our lives. Those photographs are astonishing; a world or two away from the UK!

    • A world or two away from Maine too! April is austere here–a tentative, slow emergence of new growth in chilly, unwelcoming weather. Florida, on the other hand, is an in-your-face explosion of color and heat. A nice contrast.

  11. My sister lived mainly in Venice and then, finally, on the waterfront in Sarasota for many years until she died several years ago. I always enjoyed my opportunities to visit her and photograph the Florida sights that are so different from what I see in Ohio. Blessings to you as you share time with your beloved mother. Know that you are being a blessing to her.

    • I used to go to Venice in the 1960s to visit my grandparents and there was a strong contingent of snowbirds from Ohio there then. In those days, Venice seemed to attract regulars from the midwest and Canada. To me, as a child, Venice was a magical place, with almost deserted beaches full of sharks’ teeth and coquinas, which we entered on paths through Australian pines, trying to avoid their prickly little cones. I still like Venice, and enjoy its beauties. But, for me, much of the magic has been overrun by the crowds and development.

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