The Evening Ritual: A Daughter’s Journal


by Beth Whitman

Mom started losing more and more of her words, but in a way she started becoming more verbal. And while some of the words didn’t fit and the sentences didn’t hold together, I could usually understand what she was trying to get across.

One of my favorite things was our evening ritual. I would lie down on the bed next to Mom, help her settle in for the evening, much like you might lie down next to your child until she falls asleep.  Mom would babble on for a while, until she finally lay back and shut her eyes.


Mom isn’t going to sleep. Dad, therefore, is also awake and getting cranky. I poke my head in, figuring I’ll let them work it out, but Mom’s keeping up a soft steady patter and I can tell Dad is getting grumpier.

I indicate to Dad that I’ll take over so he can get some sleep. He goes into the next room.

Mom continues to talk softly to herself and is lightly brushing her hand over her pillow.

I lay down on the bed beside her. After a while her hand makes contact with my forehead.

“Whoa. What’s this?” Her hand moves up across my face.

“It’s me,” I say.

“It’s only half…”

And she touches my ear.

“It’s…  t…ear.”

“It’s ear,” I repeat.

She continues to lightly brush her pillow, my hair, my face, the pillow.

She gets to my face again. “What’s this?” she says.

“It’s me.”

And so it goes, again and again.

And every so often she lights upon my ear.

“It’s… d… ear,” she says a second time.

“It’s ear,” I repeat.

And her fingers find my hair on the pillow.


“Hair,” I say.

Brushing the pillow, my hair, and then again to my ear.

Then she says it: “It’s ear.”

And then: “I love you.”

And with that she gently lays her head down against my shoulder and goes to sleep.



She picks her shirt up off the floor.

This is wet… ready… and very hot…

Starts to fold the shirt.

Well… actually, it is like this… but not happy…

Points to her nightie from LL Bean that’s rolled up by her pillow.

This is e… fiba…

… but I hav’ta hav’ta hav’ta have it.

Leans in for a kiss.

… Smoosie??


Beth Whitman lives in Maine and is a member of Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage, a developing community on the coast of Maine focused on multigenerational living and sustainability.

This blog was originally posted on August 16, 2012.

319 Responses to “The Evening Ritual: A Daughter’s Journal”

  1. Julie B says:

    Thank you, Bethers. This is so beautiful.