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.
(Photo source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JV_PJSoZwk8/TyasdlXmURI/AAAAAAAAAvI/0fxBV4h1nvs/s1600/anciana-manos.jpg)