It's been a trying week emotionally. There have been some wonderful moments in each day, but for most of the days, there has been a sadness, an awareness of life changes, and sometimes a little bit of righteous anger, even.
Last Sunday night at this time I was returning from the Emergency Room. I sat for 6 hours with my father, my brother and sister-in-law, as doctors tried their best to determine what was wrong with my mother. Mom was weak, feverish, and very confused. We had been seeing some disturbing things going on with her thinking lately, and noticed her decision-making skills were a bit skewed. It culminated in this trip to the hospital, which later she confided to us that she was not really even sure how she had gotten there.
She had a wide-eyed stare, or a blank and sleepy countenance. She was definately struggling with an infection, but the disconserting part was her inability to focus on simple questions, like her height or her birth date.
Fast forward to a few days later. She's released from the hospital, fever is down, and the antibiotics seem to be working to clear up her illness. Those were blessings. The hard part now, is realizing her mental state still fogs up on a regular basis, and her reasoning ability is much slower. She is compliant, and allows us to help her with basic care, but it shouldn't be this way.
Mom is 72. She used to be fiesty, fun, dark headed and stubborn. She's shakey, weak, and we had to cut her thick curls so she could manage combing through her own hair. My niece is a nurse, and has been great this week at helping mom bathe, sort her medications, get her to eat, and help her change her clothes. My oldest daughter has been cleaning for mom and dad, clearing out some of the things that they don't need in their way, and helping them make sense out of their schedules of doctoring appointments.
I just wonder, where did my parents go? They can not be these people who are depending on us to help them get through their days. Their home is beginning to look like OLD people live there, and I resent it.
I wish my kids would have known them when they were younger. My dad, who built his own home, can work any math problem perfectly and can tie a bolen knot that will never slip. My mom, who loved having people stop by, told jokes from the Reader's Digest magazine, and could make pork chops that my husband would die for!! The dark headed, fun-loving couple who square danced on the weekends, and offered tea and coffee for visitors as soon as they walked in their door way. The man who could fix anything, and did, or the woman who loved any baby she could get her hands on.
Where are the real parents who I grew up with? When did they disappear, and in their place, these dependant, old folks who only slightly resemble the people I knew, appear? Their dark hairs have gone white, their stamina gone.
I realize we are growing older every day, I was just not sure when this obvious change really happened to them. I saw them slowing down, I saw their health issues take some of their life exuberance away, and I know each illness put them deeper into the "older folks" category. But now when I trudge up their stairway, I see remnants of who they were, and I worry that who they used to be will be lost forever to the younger generation.
My front door is always open, because I learned that from my mom. I love having friends and family around. I embrace it. That's my mom.
I think any project at home is doable, like tearing a wall down and expanding our living space, because I grew up that way. I think men should fix their own cars, change their own oil, make money to support their families, because I saw my dad do that.
I never knew my maternal grandparents, because they were gone by the time I was born. But I loved my paternal grandparents because my parents taught me the value of family and relationships. I knew you could live without alot of things, but family would always be there for you. I learned that from my folks.
I guess my anger came in this week when I realized our roles are reversed. I will be taking more time to care for my folks from now on, and I see them in a different way. Their lights are waning and I dont' like knowing that my younger kids will never know them the way I do. There's a dignity to their life that will be diminished as they are forced to accept more daily care. And I resent that.
I will never resent caring for them. I am glad to do it. I just hope that some of the good I learned from them will be passed on to my children through the way I live my life.
Because my folks are good people. I have learned so much from them. I just hate it that they had to grow old before it seemed fair.