Everyone will have to travel their own journey of age and decline.  And that is those of us fortunate to live a long life, as is true for my mother.  Many of you, like me, have an intimate relationship with decline.

One thing is true- every day is different, even moments can be different.  Morning may be better and evening your exhausted loved one is a different person.  When they are ill or in pain they seem much older and shockingly incapable.  After a week on antibiotic they may seem like “their old self.”

But we must also notice the trend.  For me, a phone conversation and visit to my mom forced me to view her more objectively.  Here is how it went:

  • I like to call my mom to give her a head’s up before I come over, as well as to give her something to look forward to. For years I always said, “Hello, it’s me!”  And my mom would answer, “Hello, me!”  Of course, she knew my name- we were just teasing.  Only recently I noticed myself changing my greeting to, “Hello, mom- it’s me, Fran!”  And today when I said that she replied, “Oh, thank you for telling me your name.”
  • …and today she said, “Please hurry.”
  • And then she said, “But please don’t, don’t, um…” Long pause until I said, “I won’t have an accident- don’t worry.”
  • When I walked into her room she was writing me a note. Saying that the people at her nursing home were “X-ing out my… what is it…”
  • I guessed her Ensure (nutrition drink she practically lives on.) I reassured her that was not true.

I had asked her on the phone if she still had some Ensure and she assured me yes, a big box still on the floor.  When I checked there were three cardboard cases- all empty.

  • When I left her in the dining room to have a little soup while I ran out to Costco to get three more cases of Ensure, my mom said, “Don’t let them lose me.”

I am only hoping she does not lose her own self.

Courage, Mom.


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15 thoughts on “Decline

  1. Thank you for sharing. I cannot even imagine how heartbreaking this is for you and your mother. She really sounds like a courageous woman and she knows you are there for her.


  2. I’m 60 years old and starting to worry about the age decline and trying to have things prepared. I think it’s so gradual though that you can’t ever be fully prepared for the time to come.


  3. Wow Fran. Such an honest and raw slice you’ve shared. You are traveling a path many of us know and none of us really want to go down. I am sending you the same thought that you are sending your mom- courage. Thank you for trusting this community enough to share such a hard story.


  4. It is very difficult watching a parent get older and have them decline. My Mom lived to be 92, but there was many times when I had to fill in the blanks. Cherish her as much as you can. She will know you are doing your best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It made me sad to read this. I saw my dad decline quickly. My mom will be 86 on Sunday and though she is shrinking, she seems to be holding her own for now. Wishing you and your mom the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh I so get your post. I left my 94 yr old aunt, my last older relative, in “rehab” tonight….she asked me to make sure she was alive in the morning….and to make sure she had food if she was still alive…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Courage Fran. The journey is difficult for your mother as well as you. I cared for my mother at home and the decline affects both of you. Stay strong and keep writing! I will keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the saddest part for me was hearing the phone conversation greeting change. It really brought the struggle to life for me. Thank you for sharing such an intimate and vulnerable slice.


  9. It is so hard.

    When I was 19, I wished my boss a happy birthday, and she burst into tears. She was turning 60, and her family history predicted a long life but a swift decline in mental and physical abilities. I, of course, did not get it, and wasn’t sure how to respond. Now that I’m 47, my sisters are 58 and 60, and I’ve watched both of my parents age and die, I know the fear and the heartache well.

    I’m glad your mom has you, and you still have her.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love permeates your writing. It is real. So beautifully honest. I hope you will be held up by friends and family during this sacred time of transition. Bless you, Fran.


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