Having a Mama Kind of Time


I’m having a Mama kind of time.

My 88-year-old mother goes through phases. It took me a while to figure out that these were phases, rather than permanent situations. I don’t know what causes them, and I don’t know why they end. But I do know that while they are making their passage I have a hard time balancing with them.

This latest phase is, “I don’t know what to do.”

Here’s how it works.

11 pm

Mama: I don’t know what to do.

Me: What do you mean?

Mama: I don’t know whether they’re picking me up for my job (adult day care) or what.

Me: They’ll be here at their regular time. You just need to go to bed and get some rest so you’re ready to have fun tomorrow.

Mama: Well … OK. But I don’t know what to do.

11:30 pm

Mama: I don’t know what to do.

Me: What do you mean?

Mama: I can’t remember.

Me: It’s Ok. Just go back to bed and get some sleep and it will be ok tomorrow.

Midnight. 2 am, 3 am. 3:30 am, 4 am, and on until she leaves for Adult Day Care

Mama: I don’t know what to do.

Me: What do you mean?

Mama: I’m afraid they won’t pick me up for my job (adult day care) on time.

Me: Don’t worry. I’ll take you if they don’t pick you up. Now just go back to bed and get some sleep.

9 am

Driver for Adult Day Care: Your mother has been calling me since 4 am, wanting me to come pick her up.

2 pm

Director at Adult Day Care: Your Mother called us every few minutes from 5 am on, wanting us to come get her.

3 pm

Mama: I’m home now. I want you to come take me for a drive.

Me: I’m so tired.

Mama: Oh sweetie, you need to stop working so hard and get some sleep.

Me: Yeah. You’re right.

Mama: Now, I want you to take me for a drive.

If I sometimes seem grouchy, absent-minded or just plain goofy, remember this and cut me a little slack. It’s just a phase. It may go on for days, weeks or months, but at some point, Mama will start sleeping through the night again and she will be blissfully unaware that there ever was a time when she didn’t know what to do. I don’t know exactly how it happens, but it does.

This last slow walk with Mama is a surprisingly beautiful time with its own surprises and profound touches of grace. Even when I am groggy and nauseous from lack of sleep, I am still glad that I have her. Contrary to the nonsense our culture teaches us, it is a gift to be old and full of years, both to the people who live it and to the people who take care of them.

Everything I ever needed to know about love, I learned from my parents. I am fortunate indeed that my Mama, even as she wakes me up to the beat of her own internal metronome, is still teaching me.

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  • Stefanie

    Daily praying for you and your sweet mom, Rebecca. It is good to know that there are rhythms to this aging thing…it’s a lot like labor pains, I guess. Not a constant intense pain — there IS relief in between the contractions. You learn to relax between them –even if it is just for 60 seconds. At least you get the 60 seconds :)

  • Heloise1

    You are doing great. So is your Mother.

    The story you tell of life with your Mom is a very beautiful one. Thanks you for sharing it with us.

    God Bless you both.

  • FW Ken

    You keep making me cry, Rebecca.

    A week from tomorrow, my mama will be gone a year, so I’m crying easily these day. It makes me happy to hear about your mother. Weepy, but happy.

    • pagansister

      Understand your feelings, Ken.

      • FW Ken

        Thanks, PS. I know you take good care of your husband; Mama too good care of Dad in his Altzheimers, and my step-father took good care of Mama. It’s what good people do.

        • pagansister

          I try, Ken, I try. :-)

  • pagansister

    She has a wonderful, loving caregiver, you—–and yes, every moment is precious as you say. I have to keep reminding myself of that on some days that are confusing for the love of my life, when he struggles to tell me something or get dressed by himself.