Thursday, July 18, 2013

every time you go away you take a piece of me with you

There's no good way to lose a loved one. But I've been thinking lately about the differences between someone going suddenly, and someone going bit by bit. I watched my cousin slip away gradually a few years ago — it was excruciating for her, for me, and for everyone who loved her. At the same time my mother started to go away as well. She has dementia, and it was becoming clear as we were that I would have to step in and start helping mom out. So we moved to Florida.

I've spent the past three years trying to be a good daughter, take care of my mom, and also take care of my daughter. It hasn't been easy. I've been in this fight or flight mode so long, that now that she's in a nursing home I don't know what to do with myself. I've had to deal with my own health issues, which I'm sure have been more than a little impacted by my mother's situation and the worrying that goes along with it. No blame, just the facts ma'am.

So this week has started to feel a little strange, as I have just begun to realize that I no longer have to take mom into consideration for the day's schedule, meals — a variety of things. This Thanksgiving and Christmas we could actually go somewhere, as mom would be safe in the nursing home. The past few years I never could have thought this way. I would have had to structure either a very short trip, or more likely, as she had been having more and more issues, keep us at home and not travel anywhere.

But since her fall in June all that has changed. I'm still in a bit of fight or flight mode, as I keep my tight schedule of acupuncture and chiropractic appointments, but I'm hoping that as my brain realizes that some of the pressure is off, my body eventually will too.

It occurred to me the other day that I could actually do something outside of the house. Could I even think of a job? Maybe something part-time, or I could volunteer at the local library or museum. But I'm not gonna rush into things. This seems like a school-year or new year's project.

I never hesitated for a moment when it became clear that my mom needed me. She took good care of me when I was a kid, it was the very least that I could do for her. My ego is taking a bit of a blow lately as I realize that maybe I was holding on to her at home a bit longer than necessary. They are definitely taking better care of her at the nursing home than I could here at home. I'm sorry that she's no longer as mobile she used to be, but her health situation required this transfer.

Mom, as usual, was looking out for me. Her taking a fall necessitated not only a week in the hospital, but the transfer to an acute care facility (the new term for nursing home). I didn't have to commit her to such a place. Something I was holding off on doing as long as possible. Something that she had led me to believe that she dreaded. But lo and behold, she seems happy there. She would like our visits to be longer, but for the most part it's a good situation. Mom has let me off the hook. Now I can devote more time to my daughter and to myself. That's what a mom is supposed to do. Help you be the best you can be. As always, mom is doing just that.
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