Woman, sixty, and still trying to get it right. Stumbling the path toward the Divine. Discussing things like grandparenting, Waldorf education, child development, nature, human awareness, empty-nesting, breast cancer, and knitting luscious things once in awhile.
Caring for an aging parent is often difficult. Fo me, it has been something that has recently gotten me back into therapy. The only other two times I have gone for therapy were when I was going through divorce. Generally speaking, I am one to work through my challenging times with my huge love for finding my answers in current books, meditation, dreams, teachers, prayers, or by reaching out to friends and family for guidance.
But last Monday, Labor Day Barbecue at my daughters, I just felt myself tipping over the edge of my sanity when dealing with my Mom, and sliding uncontrollably down the slippery slope of the other side. She was absolutely horrid to me. Horrid in the most frustrating way because no one else can really see it or feel it. Only Mom knows, from our history, my buttons. Brooke picks up on it. She is my partner in caring for Mom. The only one who continues to go back, like me. Tuesday found me on the phone, through tears, trying to find someone to see, and Wednesday morning there I sat on the proverbial therapist's couch.
I purged. She smiled. And stopped me and easily asked me, "OK. Which thing do you want to talk about first?"
I smiled too. And laughed a short laugh at my own self. My floodgates are very strong, eh? They were holding a helluva lot.
My Mom, of course.
She listened, had some good things to say, and sent me home with the assignment to read The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner.
Of course I got it immediately. While reading the book and trying to find equilibrum, Mom gets sick. A bad case of the flu and a horribly painful flare-up of gout in her foot. And my heart breaks for her. Poor old woman feeling sick as a dog, horrible diarrhea and can barely walk...trying to shuffle down the hall with her walker, and make it to the toilet in time. It makes me tear up right now just writing about it.
So Brooke and I tag team and try to work our own jobs while caring for her. And she is sitting in her chair in her room, held hostage by age and physical limitations. (Oh, and I should mention that her phone quits working too, and her Lifeline support system is out with the phone.) She is really a hostage - and she mellows. She softens out of necessity. And I think she begins see more clearly from behind the prison bars of helplessness, that we are kind and loving to her. That we are the two dependable constants. And then the unbelievable happens: My Mom seems grateful.
But still, the weekend comes, Mom is feeling better and longs for some fresh air, and I am dreading the visit. Her mood is still grateful and kind on the phone. (Although I did not buy the right toilet paper and she absolutley has to go to CVS and pick out her own) But she can turn in the blink of an eye. I know I have to go (because that's who I am) and I drive there praying out loud for patience and grace.
I realize that part of the why of not going that I am feeling has to do with the daughter part of me that wants to stay in this place of grace. Freeze time. Part of me wants to believe that this is the time that will remain until she leaves this world...
OK, now hear this:
It was a great day. One that we both seemed to enjoy completely!
I don't know why for sure. Partly because she was still weak from the flu and didn't expect me to schlep her all over the county. We went to CVS. And then to Radio Shack so I could get a webcam and join the world of Skyping. Then to the fruit stand and home. On the way I went by my house and picked up my laptop so we could have a chat with the Chicago family.
She was hungry for an old bean dish she used to love and I told her (that while I wasn't so sure about beans as her first solid meal) I would make them for her. We cooked together. We had a great, fun half hour Skype session with Shannon, Isaac, Ike and Fiona. She had a glass of wine. She was so sad because she could barely keep her glass from spilling since her hands shook so bad because her Parkinsons was getting worse...so I made the act of needing a straw fun, and added a drink umbrella thing she had in a drawer. It made her laugh. I found a Stevia cola in her fridge and even made myself a cocktail!
We watched a movie, chatted and I knitted. Had dinner together. And this was the first time that I can remember in forever that she just thanked me (again and again) for a nice day and didn't say, even once, "Oh you're leaving already?"
She just thanked me and told me she loved me.
The drive home had my heart feeling peace. And the sunset was yet another gift. A message from The Universe that this was, in fact, the time that things wouldn't change back to horrible? I will believe that for as long as I can...
I cannot get into your blog anymore (nor can I find an email address). I thought it was me or my computer for awhile, but I'm beginning to think that perhaps there really have been changes made to the entry code? Or maybe that damn Irene poked her nose in and screwed things up between us? She could be a heartless bitch.