A family to care for

This is the ninth day of the Love Blog Challenge
hosted by the lovely BelleBrita
Prompt for 2/13: Family

hands-1209337_1920My mom is just shy of ninety-eight years old. She lives only an hour away, so I see her about once a week, depending only on the unpredictable weather here in the Midwest.

Her fragile body is breaking down, although she does get around with the help of a fancy, red walker. It has a little bin underneath what passes for a seat in which we keep finding odd collections of random things: three or four socks, two pair of sunglasses, a pocket-knife, Band-Aids, and her cordless phone – the one we couldn’t find and for which the base has long been unplugged.

She regularly expresses concern that my brother and I are spending far too much time and energy doing things for her that she wishes she could do herself, like organize her closet, shop for essentials, and make appointments.

Reading is a burden instead of a joy and using a television remote is beyond her ability to process. So her days are lonely and quiet, surrounded by almost no one except others who are lonely and quiet, too. 

She’s ready to be done. All she really wants is to see Jesus and my dad.

My mom and I have gone through the normal ups and downs of most every mother-daughter relationship. There were seasons when I called every week. And then times when something went a little sideways and it felt strained to make small talk. Just the normal ebb and flow, I guess.

But this is something unknown and a little trickier to navigate. It’s all new to me, as I’ve not been close to anyone who has lost memory and processing, living in such unhappiness and despair. We pray for peace. We hope for contentment.

My mom is finding it harder and harder to care for herself or remember which way to turn when it’s time for lunch. And today was particularly hard. After a really difficult and confusing incident, she completely broke down, her tears flowing as her wrinkled hands covered her face, her shoulders shaking, her hope crumbling. In all of my life, I’d never seen her cry like that.

I tried to comfort her, convince her that we would work things out together, meeting each new challenge as it came along. But she, once again, expressed her frustration that my brother and I have had to take on so much responsibility with every move she makes toward more supportive care and dependence on others.

When I reminded her that she would have done the same for her mother and my daughter will do the same for me, she said, “But you have your own family to take care of.”

Yes, Mom, yes I do. I have Tim, who is completely self-sufficient. And I have Ana and Andy and Asher and Audrey, whose lives run quite smoothly even when I make the once-a-week trip to see you. 

Yes, Mom, yes I do have family that depends on me for some things – like after-school pick-ups and my world-famous cupcakes.

Yes, I have family here who I cherish and would do anything for.

Just like you, Mom. Just like I cherish and would do anything for you. Because just like the five of them, you are my family too. 

And I love you, Mom. 

 

12 comments

  1. This really made me cry, so poignant and beautifully written. My grandparents are long gone, and so far not even cancer has managed to stop my mother and her supernatural strength born out of sheer stubbornness, but my fiancé still has them and the two grandfathers have similar challenges to her between the two of them and even if legally that’s not the case yet, they are indeed family too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the lovely words, Alessia.
      It seems so random – who carries on and who leaves us. I wish I had answers for my mom in her discouragement. But sometimes the best we can do for family is just give them family love. xoxox

      Like

  2. Nancy–I read and enjoy all your writings. But this one actually made me cry. I have had to deal with this, although not with my own mother, Which would be 10 times harder. I wish there was some magical wand to make this better, but there is not. I also prayed to God to take the woman I was helping care for–bit He does things in his own time. Maybe someday we will know why.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is honestly so sweet. Your words truly touched my heart. My mother died a few years ago from cancer. She was only 60. One of the things that she first struggled to accept, but eventually did, was allowing so many people to help her. (She was physically weak from chemo and radiation, and she wasn’t allowed to drive, so he needed a lot of help).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. After reading the “heartache” post about your mom, I reread this comment.
      I just found out that my mom (98 this April) will move to the Health Care unit of her retirement home – the most intense level of care they offer. She has lost her memory and lots of processing. But the saddest part for me is *her* sadness. Like I said, all she wants is to see Jesus and my dad. It’s hard to watch them have to depend on others for the basics… things they so freely offered to us for so long… all the best… xoxox

      Like

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