Friday, November 9, 2012
Blog 51: The Best Gift I Can Give My Mom
I just left California, where I had a wonderful week with my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. We celebrated my grandson’s third birthday. He is a very happy little boy who is so inquisitive and soaks up every new thing he learns like a sponge. You can see him study things like shapes and objects, signs, numbers, and things we walk past and don’t even pay any attention to.
While on a hike, my little grandson fell down a couple of times and it made him cry, but he got back up and continued on. He could have stayed safe in his jogging stroller but he wanted to walk, even though we told him he might fall down again. Just like life, you take a risk...and sometimes you fall, but you get back up and keep on going.
It’s amazing how youngsters learn so quickly, and even with how much they learn everyday, they are able to retain that knowledge and still have room for much more. Their brains are growing so fast, along with their bodies, and there’s so much more to learn and to look forward to in their futures. Even though they are dependent upon adults to care for them, in a relatively short period of time they will soon be on their own.
Then there’s my mom, and other people who have Alzheimer’s/Dementia, where all the knowledge they once had stored in their brains is being destroyed by a disease. They are no longer able to do the things they learned how to do so well. All of the memories, the things they once knew, language skills, concentration, the ability to comprehend, and even show love, are all gone. It’s almost like being a child again (yet it's different from that), only now there’s nothing to look forward to except a dismal future.
After leaving California, I flew to Chicago and am staying at my daughter’s apartment. We will be going to see my mom at the nursing home tomorrow. She was just moved to a new facility a little over a week ago and I haven’t spoken to her since that one time I was allowed to when she was in the hospital. That was two weeks ago. I really miss her, but I was told we needed to give her time to adjust.
I called Kathy the other day to see if she had spoken to Mom and she said no. She told me we can’t call her like we used to be able to because the nursing home won’t take calls for Mom like the assisted living center did. I don’t know if that is true, but I will find out. If it is, that means I need to come up with a plan, because I can’t go for months without talking to my mom. Being 1,800 miles away means I need to be able to talk to her and hear her voice on the phone between visits. I need her still!
Every time I come home I get anxious before I see my mom. I wonder how much worse she’s gotten, and I wonder if she will remember my name. Now I have new concerns…what is this nursing home going to be like? Is it going to be a nice place, with caring and compassionate people who are caring for her? Old concerns...will I see Renee while I am in town? Will we be able to get along?
There’s no doubt I have been feeling very alone in my thoughts about my Mom. Kathy and I talk on the phone every once in awhile and I told her how much I appreciate that we can talk to each other like sisters should. Our conversations are usually pretty brief, but at least we are there for each other. Annie and I don’t speak often but when we do we can be on the phone for hours. I’m glad that I have them to talk to. I told my daughter to call my sister Renee and apologize for what she said to her after I cried over that last email I received from her. She did, and I am happy that she is there to support me, just as my other two children are.
I know that we all go through challenges in life, and many times we are faced with things that almost seem unbearable. Sometimes everything gets piled up at once and it can bring us down so low that it can destroy our quality of life, and it will, if you let it. There’s a quote that goes like this…”Sometimes being pushed to the wall gives you the momentum necessary to get over it.”
I have come to terms with a few things…I cannot change the course of my mom’s disease, she is not going to get better, I can’t save her, and I don’t want anymore drama with my sisters. I have a life to live, and it is my choice whether it’s going to be a life of bitterness and sadness, or forgiveness and happiness. I choose the latter. Am I blissfully happy at this point, right now? No. But I am content and hopeful. I have many blessings in my life and things to look forward to. Even with this dismal part of my life with my mom’s disease, it is only a part of my life. I keep reminding myself that the best gift I could give my mom is to live a life of happiness and a life worth remembering. That’s what she always wanted for her daughters. Even though it’s been a struggle sometimes, that’s what I’m doing for her, for me, for my kids, and for my grandchildren. They deserve the best of me. I deserve the best of me. Mom deserves the best from her family. Mom's legacy will live on.
There's a place at Cornerstone in Sonoma where you can write a wish on a strand of ribbon and hang it from a chain. All of these ribbons represent someone's wish, one of them is mine. I have hope that my wish will come true.