I've stayed with my Mom 4 out of the last 6 days. It's been a difficult week. It makes me ashamed to see that written in black and white, I am Blessed to be able to have my Mom here and still knowing me. Unless you have cared for a loved one with Alzheimers you won't understand what I'm saying. My Mom is almost 83 and has always been strong, independent and was usually the caregiver. She is the oldest of 13 children, lived thru the Depression and married my Dad at 16. They waited until she was 20 to have kids, I think because they were cheated out of a childhood by the Depression, the War and their family circumstances. Mom has always been beautiful, not just pretty, but beautiful. My Dad told her that everyday of their 53 year marriage. People will tell my sister and I that we are pretty girls, but not as beautiful as our Mom. It always makes us smile with pride.
Dad worked on road construction and was away alot while we were growing up, but Mom kept everything going at home. She cooked supper every night, washed and ironed anything that touched our skin, even sheets and pillowcases and Dad's boxer shorts. Our house was always spotless and warm and full of love. Mom didn't play with us much, but she showed her love in fried chicken and starched blouses. She was always first up and last to bed. Even after we married, she didn't sleep until she had checked in on all her chicks. Ten o'clock phone calls caught me up on her day until just 2 years ago.
That is when this sad journey started. A couple of years ago, Mom started loosing herself, after her fall last summer it got much worse. We could plainly see that she could not stay alone again. In just nine months she has become a little old lady. Feeble beyond words, unsure of herself and unable to remember the past few months. Each morning she is surprised to see who slept with her the night before. We, in a weird role-reversal, put her to bed each night. Her good night kiss is the same as when we were children, except she is the little one being tucked into bed, pursing her lips and saying "I love you". This act alone makes me cry for my Mommy.
I can do the physical work it takes to get Mom thru her day, it is never ending but nothing difficult. It is the emotional work that must be done that wrenches my heart. Reminding her to take a bite of her grapefruit at breakfast again and again. Heating coffee in the microwave time after time because she forgets to drink it. Repeating the story of how she was injured in the fall while home alone. Telling her "yes, we have to wash your hair" a dozen times as we shower. Watching her search her mind for a fleeting thought, seeing that flat, dull shadow come over her eyes as she slips away from us. I miss my Mommy.
Stephen King and I have been married over 45 years. That is nearly 3 times longer than I lived at home with Mom and Dad. I was quickly weaned away from home as we became parents and created our life. But I miss Mom. Daddy died after 2 months in ICU, after a stroke when I was 50. We cherished those 2 months we spent in his hospital room telling him good-bye. We four kids got reconnected during those long hours at Dad's bedside. And Mom was at the center, leading the way, showing us how to let go. I treasure those days and nights together. Saying good-bye to Mom is nothing like that, not even close.
I go into her kitchen and she lights up like it has been months since she has seen me, but I've only been out sweeping the bird feed from her patio. I bend over her bed to help her sit up and she gives a giggle and says, "I forgot who was here". It is the same for my sister who has always been there the most. Deb never quite broke away. She always spent afternoons with Mom and Dad, taking them to appointments, shopping and ballgames. She buys the groceries, pays the bills, keeps the house running like always. You would never know Mom wasn't the one doing it all still, Deb does everyhing just like Mom did. Still Mom usually greets her with, "Where have you been this week, I haven't seen you once". Or "Where are my car keys, why are you driving, do I drive?" I hurt for my sister and my brothers. We have lost our Mom. She is still here, but gone.
That's what I mean when I say it is a difficult week. My heart hurts, I want to be a child again and have her take care of me and I hate leaving when my shift is over. But I have to rest and heal for the next one.
I think the rain has brought out my gloomy side, Ladies. I'm sorry to unload on you. I just needed to share, I pray your mammas have an easier going. Love you all.