Monday, July 4, 2011

Sorrow Will Come, Tomorrow or Today

Even though Mother is cheerful much of the time, she has her sorrows, especially because she was, as I said last week, always on the go, rarely one to sit and watch television. She played Bridge at least weekly, more often if someone needed an extra hand, and she was sought after because she was a sharp player with a fine command of the game.

Mother was also an active member of a charitable group, charged with raising funds to send girls to college. She accepted the offices of secretary and president for several terms. She attended lectures, museum exhibits, symphony concerts, theatrical productions, operatic pageants, the ballet, and festivals. She exercised daily and kept her home spotless.

Mother also cultivated friendships, shared biannual girls’ get-aways, and offered a sympathetic ear when those friends lost husbands and parents. At my father’s funeral, one of Mother’s friends told me not to worry because “Your mother is a good friend; now her friends will take care of her.”

This was an implied promise broken, however. That woman’s husband lost one leg, then the other due to diabetes. She had no time to care for anyone but her husband. A different friend lost her husband after a nasty fall while in the grip of Parkinson’s. That woman fell into a debilitating grief, one from which no one, not even her children, could rouse her. A third friend, her husband still quite healthy, decided to relocate in another state, closer to her children before age claimed their independence. A fourth, confined to a wheelchair after a stroke, was moved to a nursing home after her care-giver, her dear husband, succumbed to cancer.

Indeed, promises to friends are often broken because of prior promises to spouses or because Nature can be a cruel tyrant. The bonds of family, we hope, are  more binding than promises to friends. So it is with Mother; she has her family to speak for her now that Alzheimer’s has stolen her speech and transformed her into a wonderful listener. Yet she remembers little of what she hears so others have to help her care for herself.

I wish it were otherwise. I wish Mother were able to direct her own life. I wish she were a seemingly unstoppable Force of Nature again. So does she.

After a short visit yesterday, I called to tell her that we had returned home safely and heard the weight of sadness in her tones. She said she had been thinking about what lies ahead for her.

I reminded her that she has always found a reason for hope within every setback. I remembered for her that she has always been fearless and determined. I assured her that she can be so now, and I know I am¾determined to give her as much independence as possible, determined to give her as many days in her own home as possible. I’ll try to be fearless for her.