Taking care of momma is not as easy as one thinks. As age creeps up on momma, age also creeps up on me. Momma is moving into her late eighties now, that puts me in my late sixties. She has been slipping quicker lately, unable to express what she wants makes her less insistent, but it also makes it harder to care for her. She teeters between “I don’t care” and “I won’t do it.”
Our relationship through the years has always been, what is the word I need, ‘tedious’. Yeah, that is what it was tedious. I had to either do it mom’s way or I was doing it wrong, so either I got told what I was doing wrong, or she ignored me. I think she needed to try to tell all her children what was wrong with them or how they were making wrong choices.
Now before you judge me or her, she loved me, I knew that and being a parent myself I also know what it is like to know a child is making wrong choices and you have to let them. I tried hard to correct in myself what I saw my mother do wrong.
I know there were times when I felt she just didn’t approve of who I had grown up to be. I wonder if she had higher hopes for me. I wonder if she rode me harder because of it. I suppose when you expect a child to grow up to be a world famous something, in my case an artist, and they do not rise to those expectations it weighs heavy on you. I have seen in my children possibilities and yet they went a totally different direction.
I love each child as though they were the only one, but loved each one differently, because each one was so different. I try to respect the inner calling that each child had. One told me she would dye her hair black (she had gorgeous auburn hair) and join the army. She told me this at six years old, in her graduation picture her hair is black, she joined the army at seventeen. One moved out at eighteen seeking to have a family with her boyfriend, after eight years and a lot of tears she found herself. She married another wonderful man and is going to present her second child soon.
My youngest require more guidance. I believe she could do more but she is happy working and having her own money, I believe she has undiagnosed Asperger as she struggles with social interaction and understanding directions and a kinesthetic learner. My oldest is a puzzle. She soaks up knowledge like a sponge and I believed her direction would be archeology, she is a CNA and loves working with the elderly.
So back to the elderly, my mother, and my role. I have been left with her primary care. I saw through the years the favor my mother threw towards my older brother, mind you she had four more children. He was the most trouble and struggled the most in life, a life he lost two and a half years ago due to alcoholism. My father had already passed, and he was mom’s rock. So, when my brother passed my mother gave up.
Yes, it is true she had a small stroke, but she came back nearly all the way from it. But after my brother passed, she quit helping herself. Isn’t it odd how some people hold onto every shred of life no matter how hard it is, and others just let go and decide they would rather let others care for them?
The daily struggle to care for someone slipping farther and farther into dementia also takes a toll on the one doing the caring. As you watch the one who fought with you, cared for you and loved you disappear. This person you care for no longer knows you they just know you are supposed to be there. They no longer speak or think, and then they begin to lose the ability to do as you tell them. This is compounded when there is a physical reason, like a very bad knee.
Now it is up to you to decide is there really a lot of pain or a little that she is playing on. When water running down her back in the shower cause the same reaction as the inability to stand. Is it real, or real in her mind? Am I hurting her or is it a childish reaction? She plays in the butter, eats with her fingers and steals other people’s food. She messes herself like a child and doesn’t seem to notice. How old is she really in her mind and how much longer will I be able to care for her?
Things keep changing, she keeps changing. Once she loved black coffee, drank it for eighty-six years, now she takes mine, sweet with flavored creamer. As a child and growing up she picked fruit from trees, apple trees, cherry trees, pear trees. Ate vegetables from the garden and now she takes off the peal in a fruit salad, in a pie, or in a salad. What is the next step, pureed everything?
I tire easily, and not because of my physical requirements, I don’t have that kind of job. The mental strain can be just as taxing. Please, I pray, don’t let this happen to me, I would never wish this on my children or grandchildren. I want to go still fighting to do for myself, to never give up, to live until the end.