Being with Mom……

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It’s that time, that time in my life when my parent needs me more than I need her.   I don’t think that we stop being children until this time.

All my life, my mom has been a strong motherly force in my life. She demonstrated that women could be all things to everyone .

I have strong memories of my mom growing up at the Shoreliner Motel in suite #1.  Somehow my mom had us believe that it was a cool thing – to live in a Motel and have me and my two sisters share a hallway that doubled as our bedroom.

There were two of us in bunk beds and my big sister in a single bed with no window. My parents needed the back room (which might have served as a lovely bright bedroom , but which used instead, as a  place to store motel sheets, towels and the plethora of other things a motel requires.

We spent a good many steamy hot timess in that room holding up the PERTZ canvas bags ( as big as a small child’s swimming pool) so our parents could count the soiled sheets as they went in.   I hear the words – hold it up, hold it up from our never tired mom, as our little arms became fatigued from the heavy bags.

My parents worked incredibly hard turning the run down 12 unit motel into a respectable establishment.

At night, every night, we would pile into the bath and mom would scrub our Pixie haircuts and shine us up for our pjs. We sported the short cuts because my mom was practical; they were easy wash and wear. I disliked the cut immensely as people mistook me for a boy for way too long,  and it hurt my delicately forming female ego.

My mom was the boss of us  with Dad being a support for the team. My Dad’s line was– “do what your mother told you.” Hence, she got the bad cop role in our lives.   It’s a tough role for a mom as she didn’t get a lot of the glory during the years of our growing up.

Mom ran the house like a tightly run ship. My sisters and I had clearly assigned roles to make things run smoothly.

We had serious fear and serious respect for my mom. I don’t ever remember talking back to her or using harsh words when I was angry.

The worst words my mom could say to me is, “ I’m disappointed in you.” Those words cut straight into my tender teenage heart.

My mom’s role began to soften when we all moved out and we starting living our adult lives. She would spend her free time crocheting colourful afghans for our couches and give us frozen bags of delicious homemade pieorgies.   She or my dad handed us rolled bits of money to “cover the cost of our trip home.”

My mom might have had strong opinions about our chosen spouses and lifestyles but she kept most of her concerns to herself, allowing us to live our lives.

She was particularly worried about me and my free spirit lifestyle. But instead of coming outright and criticizing me, she would show her support in the form of giving food and pushing money into my pockets.

When my Dad died, she had a big adjustment living on her own. She openly expressed her loneliness and it broke my heart.   Her human struggles softened the last edges of any hardness that was left.

She is now in the hospital, having suffered a broken hip, pneumonia, and heart issues. The force of nature that was my mother of is now lying in a hospital bed, a tiny version of her former self.  I am with her for this week to support her in her recovery.

My goal this week is to bring out the lightness in her that will help her recovery.

HIGHLIGHTS of our visit:

DAY ONE:

We worked through readers digest WORD POWER and she got 17 out of 20 correct. The girls mind is sharp! She even surprised herself!

We nabbed a kleanex box off the nurses s counter and put our empty box in its place as we couldn’t find anyone to give us a new one.   She thought this was sneakily funny.

DAY TWO:

I was being very firm with mom that she had to get up even if she was tired to do her physio exercises. She said, “you’re a mean bitch!” which might sound harsh but it was very funny.   You must know that we three girls were not allowed to say the word bitch so she made up the word “batch” in it’s place.   We would says phrases such as, “ that was a batchy thing to say….”

Upon her use of the word bitch, I exclaimed – “mother!!” and she smiled sweetly and said, “I’m just telling it like it is!”

We both laughed a lot.

DAY THREE

It was a tough day. Mom was feeling fuzzy and it was not easy to get the energy up for any recovery exercises today. I read to her before bed.   We are reading the book, “When breath becomes air” The story was getting into complex neurosciencey details and she said, “you can just skip over this stuff and get to the good parts”.

DAY FOUR

Mom was a bit better today. She let me help her get dressed, she ate better and I read to her outside. I started  reading her the book, MARLEY. It’s about a family’s pet dog who is a handful for his family. We had some good outright laughs together at Marley’s antics.

DAY FIVE

Mom had a low day today.  Her BP was low and the zest for life she had yesterday is gone. We got my little sister on the phone to give her a PEP talk. My little sister is particularly good at these talks. She’s just bossy enough and just compassionate enough. At one point, my sister said, “mom, it’s up to you, you have to do the work to get out of here.” At which point my mom replied, “Yah, I’ve got to smarten up!.” Without hesitation, my sister responded, “Yes, mom, smarten up!” This may seem harsh out of context, but this is the vary phrase that my mom has used all her life and so it had meaning to her.

DAY SIX

HOORAY! Mom’s vitals are stable enough to move her to a rehab facility where they will support her to return to her independent living situation.   Although she is a little uncertain and nervous of the work she will have to do, she is also a little excited. When she arrived at the facility she said it was going to be good but hard. Apparently the facility has “rules” that she is not too keen about. She has to get dressed for the day and sit at a dining room table for her meals. It is the beginning of her recovery from which 50 % of people her age will not get the chance to do.

The week had its difficult moments,.   I shed some private tears watching her sleep.  At times I could feel her vulnerability so strong that I could imagining her slip over to the side of non-recovery.

On the way out a male nurse said, “ it’s so nice that you are here for your mom.” Well, I love her and want to be here, “ I told him. And I meant it wholeheartedly.

 

“In the end it is only love that matters”

Andrew Harvey

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