Our time here on earth is short. As we age, time is precious, but as we watch our parents grow old…….. it can be heartbreaking. My Father died at a young 66 unexpectedly. Mom misses him everyday since his death in 2005. However, as difficult as it can be, life still goes on for the rest of the world including my Mother.
For years I only got to see my Mother once a year if I was lucky, but each year there was something different about her. The lines on her face were more pronounced, her demeanor changed, the way she walked was more of a hobble, her voice was not the same to me, and her vision wasn’t as clear(even with eye surgery). I now am able to see her once a month and her health continues to deteriorate. However, only now it seems as though her health is quickly going down hill. She no longer wants to leave her house. I am watching my own Mother deteriorate mentally and physically and there is nothing I can do. Last I saw her, I ran errands with her. We went to the bank, bought groceries and went to her Dr. appointment. But when it was time for me to head home something happened that I will never forget. She stands at the garage door like she usually does while I pull out, and as she waves goodbye to me, her head is slightly down but I notice her eyes were glassy. I look closer and see a tear coming down her cheek. I stopped immediately, got out of my car, and gave her a hug….. we cried together. I remember our day was full and we accomplished a lot but also frustrating for the both of us. Her lack of patience got the best of her. She wasn’t upset with me but more with herself (I realize this later). However, I couldn’t help but to ask myself, “Was I to hard on her in any way or have I failed her “? It was as if she was waving goodbye to me for the last time. It seemed as though she was saying goodbye “forever”.This was devastating and unbelievably painful for me even now as I type the memory of this event. Has my Mother lost hope? What does she fear? To talk to her is like talking to a stubborn women with pride the size of Texas. She wants help, but she doesn’t. She truly needs help, but is angry because she needs help ( her independence is no more ). She absolutely 100% feels as though she shouldn’t have to ask for help. Frankly, she is right about that one, she shouldn’t have to ask, they’re six of us. She has no car, but she has no desire to go anywhere. In any case, her vision would prevent her to drive safely regardless. All I can do is visit her as often as I can, listen to her talk about “anything”, take her food shopping if she’ll dare to leave the house (if not I’ll go alone for her), drive her to her Dr. appointments if I’m available. Between the six of us it really shouldn’t be a problem for someone to be there for her. However, surprisingly “life” sometimes gets in the way with caring for your elderly parent. Sad, but true now a days.
I think about what my parents sacrificed for me growing up. My Father worked three jobs so that Mom could stay home and raise the kids. I believe this is why we all felt loved and valued in our family (at least to my knowledge, no family is perfect). In today’s society, it may be a different story. I want to be there as much as I humanly can for my one and only surviving parent. I believe I am.
I can only hope that she doesn’t notice how sad I feel as I observe her walk, talk, and struggle to just live. In her world, she is limited. I don’t know how much time she has left but I feel it’s not long. Honestly, she talks about going “home” all to often. This sounds like she’s tired and lost hope. She’s giving up and is currently waiting for her time to come. I hear her speak these words with such sincerity and almost desperation like. I reflect, and I cant help but to sit in shock. I know this is a part of life but the end is never really “happy”.
It’s true, age is inevitable. We are all heading there. Where? OLD! ELDERLY! I type in bold letters for me to allow the reality to sink in a little deeper. I don’t know why society tries to hide it, ignore it, reverse it. Truth is, you can only do so much for so long before the “inevitable” happens. Even I am guilty of such denial (appearance) at times but quickly come to my senses when I sit and visit with my aging mother.
Again I say, Life is short and life is precious. I learned much about myself the more I spend time with mom. I now know what I must change, and am “accepting” what I cant.