Thursday, July 22, 2004

PASSING OF THE TORCH

Grandma Fitzpatrick always told me that when you have children you will worry till you die.  You never think so when your children are young.  You just think when they turn 18 yrs old, it's over.  But, now I have grown children and realize just what she means...
Is there a magic cutoff period when  offspring become accountable for their own actions?  Is there a wonderful moment when  parents can become detached spectators in the lives of their children and shrug, "It's  their life," and feel nothing?

When I was in my twenties, I stood in a hospital  corridor waiting for doctors to put a few stitches in my son's head.  I asked, "When do  you stop worrying?"  The nurse said, "When they get out of the accident stage."  My  mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.    

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a little  chair in a class-room and heard how one of my children talked incessantly, disrupted the class,  and was headed for a career making license plates.  As if to read my mind, a teacher  said, "Don't worry, they all go through this stage  and then you can sit back, relax and  enjoy them."  My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.    

When I was in my forties, I spent a lifetime  waiting for the phone to ring, the cars to come home, the front door to open.  A friend said,  "They're trying to find themselves.  Don't worry, in a few years, you can stop worrying.  They'll be adults."  My mother just! smiled faintly  and said nothing.    

By the time I was 50, I was sick &tired of being  vulnerable.  I was still worrying over my children, but there was a new wrinkle  there  was nothing I could do about it. My mother just smiled faintly and said nothing.  I  continued to anguish over their failures, be tormented  by their frustrations and absorbed in  their disappointments.    

My friends said that when my kids got married I  could stop worrying and lead my own life.  I wanted to believe that, but I was  haunted by  my mother's warm smile and her occasional, "You look pale.  Are you all right?  Call me the minute you get home.  Are you depressed  about something?"    

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a  lifetime of worry?  Is concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of  human frailties and the fears of the unknown?  Is concern a curse or is it a virtue  that elevates us to the highest form of life?    

One of my children became quite irritable  recently, saying to me, "Where were you?  I've been calling for 3 days, and no one answered.  I was worried."  I smiled a warm smile.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Well it gets worse and worse it seems. I posted about my Mom not even remembering 5 days later that she had seen her 2 great granddaughters. Well it is even worse. I take her to the beauty shop every Tues. to get our hair done and then I take her out to lunch. She has always really enjoyed that. Well Tues. we went and got our hair done, I picked up my mail and we went to the restaurant. I know not 1/2 hr. had lapsed since leaving the beauty shop and as we sat at the table Mom looked at me and said "Did you get your hair done it sure looks nice." Nothing in her mind at all about having just been to the beauty shop together and both getting our hair done just 1/2 hr. ago. She really seems to be leaving this world as we know it. I wonder how much more she will lose. If she will ever not know me even. They tell me it is dementia and not alzhiemers where they do go totally blank and can do nothing at all. Even forgetting how to eat. Mom shouldn't get to that point I guess but with this zero short term memory it is almost as bad. No matter how often I see her or take her places she hasn't a clue I was even there. Had a nice B-day party for her but it is all gone in her mind. She has no idea it ever happened. It is so hard seeing a mother in this faze of her life.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Otherwise
by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.
He told me I already had -- my name was always, already written down in the Book, on high. I, sometime I think I'm seeing all the people right now, 'cause they in my dreams so much, and I believe this is the way you're gonna see your family.
This quote, from my earlier post about a daughter watching her mother slip away, is from the mother herself. It caught my eye because it reminded me of something. It then dawned on me it's because it's similar to what Mom says about dreams. Sleep is a blessing to her, because she is with those she loves in them, especially Dad...

"I remember my childhood watching you work hard to make life easier for me. I remember you making a home out of a house -- houses -- condemned. I heard you outside in the chill of the morning chopping wood to make a fire, so that the house would be warm when I got out of bed. I heard you singing in the kitchen and the smell of food cooking to feed me. I saw you come home tired from working all day every day, to ensure we had money to meet our needs."

"I believe while I was sleeping, you were up praying. I know now how when I complained about the shoes I wore and my clothes being hand-me-down or out of style, that I really had a hidden treasure -- a treasure more valuable than brand name materials. I know now that clothes will either out – I will either outgrow and/or fashion will continue to change, shoes will become old and worn, but love is from everlasting to everlasting."

"You represent the tree by the rivers of waters bearing fruits of the spirit of God. I glorify God in his infinite wisdom that created love and called it 'Mother.'"
A daughter writes about - and remembers - her mother, as she watches her die...
I know exactly what my cousin Delphine means. I'm seeing it more and more with my Mom (who is the sister to her mom...) My sister Betty and I visit at least every other week together with Mom, but periodically also pop in at other times. Inbetween we maintain contact with the facility she lives in to make sure things are OK for her and how she's doing.

However, it's getting increasingly difficult to just visit with her, to hold a conversation, to find things to even talk about. How many times can you comfort someone about losing their spouse whom they loved so much? The words have long ago become empty as you say them because you know they don't help. You go through the motions and end up feeling horrible and you don't know why. You try to do all the right things but you feel like you've done the opposite.

We're in a new age where people are living longer, but not necessarily living better. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that if I face old age, I will make sure I plan things so I suffer least, and burden less. Exactly how I will do this, I am exploring as we speak, but I don't want to just exist, and exist in pain. It does no honor to anyone...

Saturday, July 10, 2004

My mother will be 92 July 13th. I will be gone then so I brought her a cake, a flower and Happy Birthday balloon today. I had them serve the cake for dessert at the nursing home. Mom was glad to see me and said she had been so lonesome as it has been so long since she has seen me. I told her Mom, I have been here 3 times in the last 5 days. My grandchildren are here for the summer staying with another grandma and they were in town so stopped so we could take the girls up to see my Mom as she hadn't seen the great grandkids for about 2 yrs. So there were 2 great grandmas and 2 grandmas and the two girls 5 and 7 at the nursing home. We were with Mom for 2 hrs. I took several pictures with my digital camera. Then The next day I went and got my Mom and took her to get her hair done and we went out to eat. Then today to bring her a B-day cake. I am so depressed seeing my Mom fade away. It has only been 5 days since the great grand children and I spent 2 hrs. with her and she has no memory whatsoever that they were ever there. I told her about it and she doesn't remember seeing them at all.

I know her memory is very bad and reduced to just seconds but I did think she would remember seeing the little girls but Nothing no memory at all that anyone was there. It hurts so bad to see someone like that. You can't do or say anything to or for her cause it means nothing as within seconds it is like it never happened at all as she remembers nothing.