I have been reflecting on the past 4 years I have been spending with my mother. Initially I moved home because it was all I could do, having left my old life behind in a pile of debris and smoldering, burned bridges. Within a month or so it was obvious that I was there to help her more than the other way around.
As the years went by, her Alzheimer’s progressed, my sobriety grew, her frailty increased, and my role as caregiver expanded to include more than just the occasional trip to the store for her. I have now taken over the household accounting and serve as her Power-of -Attorney. I am not alone in these tasks, and for this I am thankful. There is her financial manager in The Big City who oversees her rather large estate; her attorney who manages that as well as her estate legal affairs; her CPA who prepares her taxes each quarter; there are my two sisters who offer me support from long distance and visit when they can — they are also listed as POA’s should I not be able to fulfill this task; and the crew of amazing caregivers working 24 hours a day that allow me to not only live my own life but to handle the above responsibilities round out the team.
Mom’s habits have shifted since her broken rib incident a month ago. She has withdrawn and spends much of the time in bed. Sometimes she is sleeping, and sometimes she is reading. Sometimes she just sits there and stares off into space, perhaps just thinking. Her depression is palpable. She is angry at the world and confused about what is happening to her. She is frightened by the loss of self that has accompanied this emptiness in her mind. The worst part is that she knows this is occurring.
Someone mentioned to me the other day that it must be hard to see this going on. I think I have begun dismissing this kind of statement by rationalizing my being here as a gift, some sort of frightful challenge that is helping me grow. I think from now on I am going to acknowledge the pain and tell them it is especially hard on me because I have absolutely no control over the slow and terrifying slipping away of my mother, who I will always remember as being fun-loving, brilliant, energetic, and youthful.
This may sound selfish to some, but I think that part of living my life is to not be so tough or reserved when it comes to this matter. This is the most painful time of my life, and I hope none of you ever have to go through it. But if you do, don’t do it alone.