Saturday, July 14, 2012

Legacy

My mother continues to decline.  I have learned so much from her on this journey.   I am so grateful that I can be present to her.  When I was there in February, I bought her all new clothes.  At that point, I bought "what I thought she should have".   Once I returned home to Minnesota (after several phone conversations with her) I ordered the "travel knit" pants she likes to wear - practical as those cotton pants were (for someone with incontinence problems) those are not her style.  So what if the travel knits wear out faster and have a tendency to hold on to objectionable odors.  Who cares!  No matter her decline, she has always been a woman of great beauty and style.

Today as I was canning pickles, I thought about how far we have come on this journey of aging and loving one another.  Mother and I have always had differences of opinion - in the end of days here we are, the two of us.  Today I realized that I might have been unconsciously taking out some deeply buried "adolescent crap" out on her when I purchase her "practical cotton pants".    Mother has always been the definition of controlling, including every aspect of my upbringing and just maybe I was acting out some long held thing - who knows, who cares.  We are here together until the end of days and I am honored to companion her on this difficult journey. 

 She has begun to have frequent falls.  Two weeks ago, she fell and knocked out one of her front teeth.  Luckily, that is something the dentist can repair.  It is now "good as new".  She fell again this week trying to hang the hummingbird feeder.  I hope she stays vertical until I arrive on August 1.

Of course, I worry.  Of course, I want her to be safe.  Of course, of course, of course.  I have learned to curb my worry and anxiety and not have it spill over onto her.  I try to honor her decisions and speak only lovingly and constructively to her.

Today when I called, she was baking cookies.  These are the prepacked "Nestle Toll House" cookies that you can purchase in your supermarket's refrigerated case.  She has been baking these for the last few years.  They are "her cookies" and she gives them to her neighbors and friends.  She would be mortified if she thought anyone thought she didn't mix the batter from scratch. :-)

When I spoke with her, I saw us - how alike we are and how much I have inherited from her.  She can't slow down and she won't slow down - feeling needed - doing things for others - being active - using her hands, these are all intrinsic to what and how she is.  I am so grateful to for that legacy and to have inherited that can-do spirit,  She is the energizer bunny and if she falls and hurts herself - she is living her life - not sitting on the shelf.  A priceless and precious legacy.  Thank you Mother.

3 comments:

  1. It is the way of age and where we will all find ourselves. I have a geriatric cat who reminds me of it every day that someday it'll be me. My mother was also a very independent woman and was able fortunately to stay more or less on her own to the end. I hope for as much for myself and then a quick end as Mom had. We aren't all so fortunate

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  2. My hat's off to you for choosing the love AND the travel knit pants. It's scary and unsafe traveling to the end, even if one is baking cookies and staying active. I'm sure you're an incredible comfort to her. Try to stay safe yourself, OK? Frequent hugs!

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  3. I think in addition to your personal relationships grief process, you're also expressing some important insights into the dynamics between yourself and your mother. I have a dear friend who is coping with some of the same concerns with both her parents and all the dynamics with siblings -- birth positions, pre-conceived family members expectations of one another. This is also very prevalent with many of the patients and their families that I serve. My personal situation years ago with my own mother living independently accentuated my awareness of how we're affected by virtue of our parent child relationship. You may well want to expand your grief counseling project in the future to encompass families faced with these issues you're experiencing now, My thoughts and good wishes are with you.

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