“You don’t come over at all.” “I need to get out of this house.” “I can’t do this much longer.” “Everyone has abandoned me.” These are the words from my 87 year old mother. Since we are in the midst of issues with her caregiver blended with her being ill, she has been on edge. Completely natural when you are at the mercy of others. Sometimes when I am with her, her words reverberate…..”you don’t do enough.” But, I do enough. I know that I am enough.
Sunday night, we had dinner with my Aunt and Uncle (my father’s brother). My relationship with them has always been significant. They have walked me through many life altering moments. Army (my uncle) was in a nostalgic frame of mind. He told story after story about my father. It made me feel like he was at the table with us. My heart still aches for his presence. He inquired about my mom and I shared my ongoing role. He uttered the words, “You are enough, Allison. You are a wonderful daughter,”.
Yesterday, when her caregiver called in, yet again, I found myself back in the home I grew up, doling out her medication, fixing her coffee, repeating myself as she forgets easily what I just said especially when she is anxious, and trying to not be impatient. My spouse told me to “breathe” as I was trying to get her cable to work and then she apologized for being a “burden”.
Later in the afternoon, I dialed her number waiting for her to answer. She didn’t. I tried several more times within a two hour window and knew that I would need to drive over there. There were all kinds of scenarios running through my head. Fortunately, my spouse volunteered to go with me and off we went. Armed with keys to the house, I ventured to the front porch where I was met with my mother’s version of locking the house like Fort Knox. Screen door was locked barring me from even attempting to get into the house, but there she was sitting in her favorite chair. News blaring and waving at Brian as he knocked on the window. Once her five million locks (kidding, but it felt like a lot) were released, she opened the door with a smile. I, however, didn’t have a smile on my face. “I have been trying to call you for hours.” “Really, the phone has not rung.” We realized that there was an issue with the line and called her carrier. It was fixed remotely and we were on our way.
This is our dance. My story isn’t unique. There are millions of people in my position. Making unpopular decisions, but still trying to allow their geriatric loved ones to have some independence. It is the natural progression, I suppose, but a difficult path to navigate. I must remind myself on a minute to minute basis that I am enough, I do enough and I have enough. I must do what is best for me which sometimes is unpopular with her. I must seek to be more patient and compassionate but without self-deprecating talk if I fall short. It is a process. One that will never be perfected, but at the end of her life, I want say that I have no regrets and truly mean that.