Having a Mama Kind of Time

Elderly hands

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.

Pope Francis: There is No Way to Avoid Growing Old

This one is for my precious Mama.

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