This is the nineteenth day of the Love Blog Challenge
hosted by the lovely BelleBrita
Prompt for 2/27: Affection
We moved my mother into a more supportive care unit of the retirement home she and my dad picked out decades ago. So, it’s been a bit of a week. Although more than one person said they wished they had offered to help, it was a little bippity-boppity-boo and the process of moving so quickly from small to even smaller would have been even more tricky with another adult.
Thankfully, my mom has already Kondo’d herself into about four bins of stuff. There is little memorabilia, as several of the more meaningful pieces have either disappeared over the years or are already safely at my house or my brother’s.
I’m getting used to the quirkiness of memory loss. Her first question to me was What’s happening in Georgia? Um. I’m not sure, Mom. Are you talking about something in the news or my cousins? She wasn’t sure but asked a few other people along the way. Thankfully, her interest waned as the day wore on.
Noticeable to all, her body continues to weaken and her mind refuses to process the basic daily episodes of life. She is more dependent on others and, mercifully, is willing to accept the support she needs.
Even though it’s best for her, it wasn’t easy to explain an unwanted and, for her, unexpected move to a less-appealing place while so distracted by “Georgia.” For me, it was even more difficult to do it without breaking down, feeling her loss of independence and the life she knew.
But we got her settled and she met Caroline and Nurse Tim. I successfully convinced her that the recliner was not a bed for a third person in her room, which granted her a significant amount of relief. She said she is content not being on the window side of the room “because it’s so bright over there.”
She is in and that was about the most I could hope for in one day.
My mom and I have gone through a few ups and downs over the years. There was only one real rugged part which I’m not even sure she recognized. For me, it lasted a few years.
But even during the rugged times, we’ve always been free with our affection. There are usually hugs all around, especially after a longer separation, and especially on my side of the extended family. I’m a big fan of showing affection, even to those not particularly close to me but with whom I feel an affinity.
But as I prepared myself to write about something I think I know pretty well, I felt compelled to investigate what affection really means. And, because my mom is so heavy on my mind right now, one of the words stood out in a whispered shout…
It wasn’t the most common word associated with affection. Nor was it listed first. But it describes beautifully the feeling I have toward the woman who raised me and wanted nothing but the best for me.
She made her parenting mistakes – a couple of whoppers, if you ask me – but never with a mean spirit or a selfish intent.
We are distinctly different in ways large and small, but in others, very much the same.
And now I wonder if my future will be like hers.
Her skin is almost translucent and feels like a smooth, well-worn quilt. Her hair is white and flyaway, always misshapen by the visor that shields her sensitive eyes.
I’m careful when I hug her hello and goodbye so as to not crush her brittle bones. I want to bubble-wrap her when we walk through a crowded hall, shielding her from a runaway walker or misbehaving cane. I’m afraid she will bruise her knee on a protruding corner or trip on a paperclip. I can’t imagine her being hurt. I love her and want to save her from the cruel world.
My affection for her has changed over our years together. From running to her comforting arms to offering her comfort during times of loss, from regular calls to a strained feeling of distance, from youthful admiration to tolerant respect. From my earliest years to her waning ones, I have always felt affection for her.
But now, my lovelies, it’s difficult to describe my affection for her as I recognize the fragility of her body and of life itself. I cannot say it’s the sad anticipation of losing her. I don’t scold her when she says she just wants to go Home; in fact, I pray fervently that God grant her request.
And although seeing her is pleasant, we don’t have much fun together. Actually, it is really quite exhausting for both of us. I don’t take my scheduled visits casually, nor would I cancel capriciously, but they are always short and uneventful (notwithstanding the moving days) because there is little to say and less to do.
My affection, though, remains deep. It is strong, but completely different than it’s ever been. It’s the sweetest kind of tenderness reserved for a grown-up daughter towards her aging mother. Like us.