My Golden Mama and Her Slow Good-bye

3 Days of Filing 2012  11107

Let me tell you about my mother. 

She is 87 and she gets confused. 

She gets confused a lot.

For a couple of years there, every day was a challenge just to keep her alive. We rushed her to the hospital several times so they could drag her back from the edge. Now, her physical health has stabilized, but her mental health is going downhill, a little bit at a time.

She reminds me quite often that I took her car away from her. She’s lost that sense of time that lets the rest of us grieve a loss and then move on, leaving it in our past. When she remembers that she doesn’t have a car, the indignation is as fresh for her as the day it happened. The day I took that car was a sad day for me, too. When she tells me, as she does at least once every day, that I “took” it from her, it re-opens the pain in me, as well.

Other than the car memories, my mother is as sweet as a small child. She accepts whatever I suggest as the best thing and she trusts me the same way my children did when they were little. Like them, she talks almost non-stop, prating along about things that happened, or didn’t happen but that she thinks happened, 60, 70 or even 80 years ago. 

For my part, I’ve fallen into the same u-huh, u-huh, answers that I gave my babies when they chattered to me as they “helped” me wash dishes or plant flowers or whatever. I do a lot of the same things with her that I did with them. We sat in the backyard yesterday and counted the blue-jays and the robins to determine which are the most numerous. 

The differences are that when I told them something, they remembered it later that day. Mama doesn’t. That, and the fact that my babies were moving forward toward independent life, while Mama is moving inexorably away from independent life and then on to the next life on the other side of this one. 

Forgetfulness is a blessing of sorts. At the beginning of this journey, she knew when she forgot and it upset her. Now, she no longer remembers that she doesn’t remember. She’s much happier this way. 

I never remind her that she’s asked me that same question several times. I just answer her again. I don’t chide her about calling me 10 times in 15 minutes when I’m at work. I just talk to her each time as if it was the first call; because for her, it is. 

I love my mother. I always have. But in some ways, she’s more precious to me now than she ever was before. She is so sweet, and so good. The pretensions we hide our real selves behind are gone from her. Her personality is stripped down to the unself-conscious realness of its bare self. What that is in my mother is a person who is all love, all generosity, trusting and deeply, profoundly innocent. 

Caring for her during these years of her slow good-bye has given me the chance to see my mother as she really is without any cover. What I’ve seen is that she is a wonderful person, all the way through. 

This is precious time, these years with her. I would not trade them for anything. There are moments, every once in a while, when I miss who she used to be. I would love to just sit down and have a talk with Mama as she was. But that can’t be and I know it, so I run my mental fingers over the weave of the thought and then fold it up, put it away and go back to the reality of the sweet baby Mama I still have. 

Old age is not a tragedy. It most certainly is not a waste or a burden to those who aren’t there yet. It is a gift and a treasure; a phase of life like any other. My mother is going through a slow and beautiful passage from this life to the next one. It make take her years yet. Her family is a very long-lived tribe. Or, it may end suddenly, at any time.

Whichever way that happens, I know that she and her ultimate future are in God’s loving hands. I only thank Him for giving me this present time to love and cherish her now. It is, like she is, golden. 

Less of Me: The Diet, Week Two

So much for great plans and good intentions. 

One of the good people who offered advice about my impending diet last Saturday told me to be gentle with myself when I failed to do what I had planned. That was excellent advice, especially since I didn’t succeed consistently on anything  I planned.

First the good news. When I weighed this morning, I found to my surprise that I had actually lost 2.3 pounds. Why? I dunno. I made no effort to eat less or even to eat differently. I was more aware of what I ate just because I had weighed and then written about it here.

Now, to the long list of failures. My objectives and the results were:

1. Start getting 8 hours sleep every night. It turns out that the only easy thing about this was writing the sentence. I managed to make myself go to bed by 1 am almost every night. I did not pull an all-nighter all week. But I couldn’t sleep once I got there. I tossed. Turned. Tossed some more. To top it off, my elderly mother got me up at 4 a couple of mornings; not because she was sick, but just … well … because. So the first objective gets 14 for effort and zero for success. I will keep trying and would appreciate any and all ideas as to how to succeed. I. Am. So. Tired. I need the sleep!

2. Exercise every day. I managed to do this 3 times rather than the 7 I hoped for. I rode my recumbent bike for 30 minutes instead of the planned 15 simply because it was easy to peddle and read. The challenge here is making myself go do it. I’m going to run at it again this week. I think that three times is a big improvement over none, btw. My score for this is 7 for effort and 7 for success. Halfway there.

3. Don’t do so much. I was a TOTAL flop at this! In fact, instead of clearing the decks, I took on two additional projects; one for a volunteer position I hold and another for my family. The score here is zip and zip; the big zero.

4. Drink more water. I drank more water, but not what I had planned. I’ll work on it. I would score this 10 for effort and 7 for success.

5. Weigh. Every Saturday. I am 14 for 14 on this! I finally have something where I accomplished what I planned, even if it is just stepping on a scale and looking down. Yeah!

6. Blog about it here every Saturday. I am doing that now. So again, 14 for effort and 14 for success.

7. Pray about it. I (blush) didn’t do this at all. It is so hard for me to pray about this. I have no idea why.

So there you have it. The bottom line is that I need a lot of work just to get to the beginning of living a healthy life. The odd thing is the weight loss. I think it is most likely a result of the self-awareness I gained from talking about all this here. I think that may actually be the most helpful thing I’ve tried.

I hope you guys have some ideas about sleep. I think that’s the single most important thing I need to do for myself right now. Please feel free to chime in with any ideas, thoughts, prayers you have for me. I need all of it.

Thank you again for all the help you’ve given me so far. As I said, it seems to be doing me good, almost without my knowing it.

Now, I’m off to put a roast in the oven and then go to mass.

 

 

 


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