The doors open quietly as I enter the health care facility where my mother has been a resident for several years. I have made this journey, wandering down each hall until I reach my mother’s room. She is either in her bed or in her reclining chair which has wheels so she can be taken to the dining room, or to be a part of whatever activity may be going on a certain day.
This is so bittersweet! Their is always a heaviness in my heart when I greet her for she is not the young mother anymore. She is not the lady who cooked, cleaned, ironed, hemmed, hung laundry on a clothes line, and learned to live within a very tight budget. She could take some ingredients and put together the most delectable, mouth watering food you could find at any nice restaurant.
Food is a subject she almost always talks about as she plans a menu for dinner, and her grocery list for the week. And are we going in her car or mine? And are we leaving soon? She often says, “I have to get home and have dinner cooked before Truman comes home.” She has forgotten that my dad, her husband of 55 years, passed away in 2008. She believes she is in a hospital and has only been there for a couple of days.
Many times I choose to change the subject to something happening in the present, then she quickly starts asking questions about the family. She remembers her daughters, and most of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even though she has four great-great-grandchildren, she may or may not remember their names on any given day.
The sadness of realizing that she is in a very small room after living in a big house before the illness changed her life forever is often devastating. She has a very sweet roommate. The rooms furnished with two hospital beds, two small bedside tables with one drawer, and two closets, with some drawers beside them, and there is a place for a TV above them
Mom listens to the shows, but has muscular degeneration and can’t see anymore unless we get very close to her. She often talks about losing her glasses, then she could see. She also questions me about what has happened to her teeth! I hated to do it but we had to take her dentures away and have her food pureed so she could eat. The dentures didn’t fit anymore and she would not quit pulling on them and broke off her thumb nails in the process. Being the main caretaker, when I found her thumb nails broken half way off, I had a meltdown. I could not begin to realize how that could have happened. Then several weeks later, I noticed she was pulling her top dentures down with her thumbs! Mystery solved.
My mom is on a hospice program. She’s come close to leaving this world at least four times, then to pop right up like nothing had happened. We call her the come-back-kid!
Several years ago I bought a foldable chair to keep in her room so we can be comfortable visiting her. She doesn’t feel enjoy me pushing her around to different part of the health facility anymore. We used to go to the patient’s lounge which has a TV and many books. And oh my, speaking of books. I can never forget we were constantly sharing books! She loved to read as much as I. That is just another part of the process of watching my mother slip away. I continue to try to visit her as much as possible. The time became less when I started taking care of my great-grand-babies. One cannot be two places at the same time, so the time spent with the babies was not a choice. They needed me more.
It seems as I watch her age, I look in the mirror and so have I. Then I look at my grandchildren who seem to be growing like weeds on a beautiful spring day. Just being around them seems to bring life and joy to my soul that I can’t seem to find in everyday life anymore. I’m glad to see them happy and healthy, but I also want to just cherish every moment with them and I can’t help but think as I look at my twelve year old granddaughter, that I will not be able to do the things with her as I did with my own children.
Did I really get that much accomplished in one day? Yes, most definitely. Nothing was a chore, or a struggle, but it was a fast paced life of owning two daycares and raising two children. Then the grandchildren came along! I wouldn’t trade all these times for the world. And it is a given that I may not be around to watch them grow up! It is not sad to me. In fact it is the opposite of feeling melancholy as I’m learning that being around younger people actually does make me feel my spirits start to rise and I am that twenty or thirty or even forty year old again with nothing to do but enjoy the day.
Being in the middle of the sandwich generation, I find life has come full circle and it is only inevitable the young ones may not remember me. So I cling to the hope and prayer that the bonding I am experiencing with them now will not be wasted. The love will continue on as they go forward with their own lives.
Since I have some time on my hands now, I have started water exercising at the YMCA, and walking to a video I have at home. It’s really great because I can choose to walk one to four miles! And exercise will help me to stay strong.
When Brooklyn was here last weekend, I lifted her only to compare the weight to a concrete block! She is a sweet, smart, lovely little girl inside and out. She will be two years old this month on the 29th. So please join me to wish Brooklyn Spurling a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
My mom loves for her family to visit and she always finds such joy when the babies arrive. She wants to hold them and snuggle. I am believing they make her feel younger, too. This is called - the circle of life. There are five generations and it is a blessing to be a part of it.