Mort Mather Author Writer Organic Farmer Philosopher Thinker Restauranteur

How to improve your life and save the world.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Taking Care of Mom

Both Barbara and I brought our mothers to Maine for their last years. Barbara’s mother came first. Her husband died and she was loosing her sight. Barbara tells her story of this period of her life in a performance piece she wrote from a diary she kept.

My mother fell in the middle of the night, broke her wrist and, in the dark, alone, spent the rest of the night on the floor. She had cared for her mother and more than anything in the world she didn’t want to be a burden on her son and daughter-in-law. She finally convinced herself that she could be a help transporting her school-age grandchildren to places they needed to be. We moved her into a second floor apartment six miles from us.

Unfortunately Josh and Caitlin didn’t like riding with Grammy. Apparently she had scared them once or twice. My mother wondered why she wasn’t used more and finally I had to tell her the kids didn’t want to ride with her. She thought I was lying. She kept the car as a symbol of her independence until her last year though it sat unmoved for a couple of years.

Each year got more difficult though she worked very hard to keep from being a burden. She would do mind exercises like writing down all the presidents, states and state capitals. She went to the hairdresser every other week. I was the chauffer when she couldn’t drive anymore. I shopped for her once a week and visited her any day no one else was scheduled—Meals on Wheels, visiting nurse, etc. I took her to doctor appointments.

She did a magnificent job of taking care of herself—feeding herself, going to the bathroom on her own, taking her medications (she measured the water she drank to make sure she took as much as the doctor told her to)—yet it was difficult for me. The time commitment, the wishing I didn’t have to do some of the things I had to do, and watching her deteriorate, watching her bubble of awareness shrink to interest in nothing but what she had to do to get through each day.

My job was in many ways much easier than Barbara’s. I don’t have advice for those who are going through this other than to say you are not alone. It will seem that way at times and those who have not been through it may think they understand but they don’t. You may feel it necessary to suppress some feelings, may even feel like a bad person for having them. Read Barbara’s piece. I think it will help.

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