Toward the end, mom was in the rehabilitation section of her retirement center.  That building has a grim atmosphere with many patients mentally or physically exhausted and aged and wheel-chair bound.  I rode the elevator to the second floor to visit mom, walked to her room, saw her bed empty and asked her whereabouts at the nurses’ desk.  They told me she was probably in the activity room around the corner.  No activity goes on in an activity room in a retirement center’s rehabilitation building. I stepped to the open door and looked across a large beige room filled with wheel-chair bound people under fluorescent lighting, almost all white, almost all female, and almost all with wispy gray-white hair on heads bowed down to chests as if in prayer or resignation or exhaustion– or death.  Only the nursingchair aide turning the leaves of her magazine moved within this room.  The television blinked and blared but it was as if it was not connected to the stillness, another dimension, my dimension but not that of these people.  I could not see my mom in this group.  She was there but everyone else looked just like her.  None even raised an eye at my entrance.  The air left my lungs but I could not breathe in for an unforgiving few seconds.  This was a room full of mom.  I had lost her in a crowd of despair.  The twilight people on the edge of health, memory and awareness.  I was so sad for mom and me and the whole lost and beautiful world.

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