Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Chapter in Which Mom Comes to Live With Us

     I don't know where to begin telling about this. In a nutshell, Mom needs assistance. Out of pure stubbornness, she has managed to stay in her home until the age of ninety-three. But something has finally changed and she is giving in to weariness. The signs have been evident; she falls a lot, skips meals or eats cereal for dinner... a lot, and takes the wrong pills. My formidable mother has finally called, "Uncle".
     We have plenty of room in our home and in our hearts for Mom to live here. I've been asking her to come for the past six years, ever since my older sister died. My younger sister lives near Mom, but she is not in a position to take over this level of care. The fact that I live six hundred miles away is an issue for Mom and Sister and I understand that. As we come down to the time to move Mom, emotions are running high, on everyone's part. But, I figured somebody's got to steer this ship and it might as well be me.
     Optimist that I am, I imagine the wonderful life we will give Mom in her final years (months,days, who knows?) I will sort her pills, do her laundry, corral her great grandchildren around her chair for kisses, cook Tapioca pudding for her, take her to doctor appointments, play my dad's old big band records for her, and be as gentle and patient as I can be. However, I am also a realist when it comes to reading the signs as to how this actually might play out. I will have to coax her out of her sorrow, the sorrow of leaving her home of sixty-three years, the sorrow of taking her away from my father's and sister's graves, the sorrow of leaving her youngest daughter behind in New York, and the sorrow of not being allowed to spend her final days in her home.
     The irony of this whole situation has not escaped my attention. Of her three daughters, I was the one who was always trying to run away from her. As a toddler, I wandered off on purpose with a desire to explore that was so strong it still quickens my heart. As a young child, I frequently ran off to nearby fields and woods, believing it was worth the price I'd pay from the Wrath of Mom when I finally made my way home later in the day. As a teenager, I ran away from home and rebelled to the fullest until I finally moved out when I turned eighteen. It wasn't until I married and had children of my own that I realized what Mom was all about. Controlling, overbearing and anxious were her love languages for me. She was a great mom, but we went together like oil and water. God now gives me a chance to return all the love she tried to give me but for which I was too immature to accept. I get to make up for all my, "I hate you's!" with gentle, merciful, unconditional, "I love you's." We began this process years ago, but now we will face the ultimate test. I will become the mother and she, the child. God, give me the grace to do this.


  1. I read this having just made sure the three elders in my care have had a good breakfast, taken all their meds, and told their same stories of 1945 a dozen times a piece so far on this day.
    God give us grace to care for our parents and then be cared for when it is our turn to tell tales of long go.

  2. What a wonderful thing you are doing - opening your home to your mom. It's good that your whole family is on board, too. I admire you greatly for the strength to do this, Lee.

    I read this on Saturday morning, via my ipad, on the back porch and got teary over the last paragraph. Oh - how I can relate. I was not the favorite daughter, my younger sister was, but I did my share of care giving in the our mom's final years, months and days. I was the last one with her before she slipped away in her sleep one Sunday morning. (My mom had dementia/alzheimers, so needed to be in assisted living, so we went that route. I think it's so nice that you can move your mom to your home.)

  3. Such beautiful thoughts, especially in the last paragraph. I wish you lots of patience.