The flu bug bit me Sunday – luckily it was the size of a gnat as the mild achiness lasted only a couple of days. YaY for the flu vaccine!
Yesterday, while recuperating in the recliner – a necessary piece of furniture for senior citizens – Mom called to see how I was feeling. She was concerned about her little girl. This tenderness came from a woman who had just survived a much worse round with the virus herself. Our tougher-than-nails, 89-year-old mommy continues to shock and awe us.
First of all, Mom’s little body – from neck to toes is riddled with arthritis. She has been diagnosed with one torn rotator cuff, but probably has two. Only a shoulder replacement can remedy that problem, but at her age she says, “Forget about THAT!” She did try a couple of pain shots and decided being impaled by a six-inch needle wasn’t worth the trip to the doctor – even though she thinks he is a handsome rogue.
Her golfing and driving days are behind her, but she prefers using her walker over riding a scooter. Which is a good thing as it keeps her moving – not as much as she’d like, but as much as is safe. Falling is the big worry, but after a couple of doozies that resulted in black eyes but no broken bones, she recognizes her limitations and moves very carefully. She even pulled herself up after her last fall over a year ago. We are confident that angels were there to give her a boost.
Mom prides herself on possessing a “high pain threshold”, and that is an understatement. She so rarely complains that Connie and I have to play 20 questions to make sure she isn’t hiding something. On one rare occasion she said her back was bothering her a little bit. This concerned us because she experienced serious back problems about 3 years ago that terrified us and really set her back.
After a couple of days of wondering, she asked me to check her back to see if I detected anything suspicious. I saw nothing until I pulled her pants down a bit to see her lower back and discovered a terrible rash. Further inspection revealed a horrendous case of shingles that traveled down her right side, ending near her knee. I felt terrible and immediately whisked her off to the doctor. I could not believe she had endured such a breakout with hardly a word!! While we didn’t catch the condition as early as we would have liked, the antibiotic did help, and she bounced back yet again.
It is hard to watch Mom “wind down”. While she usually puts on her make-up daily, it is a tedious job to shower and change clothes. She remembers that Wednesdays are card-playing days with her friends, but she forgets what she told us just minutes before. She doesn’t feel like eating, but will give in if we heat something up for her. She prefers to stay home, but is always ready to go to the Hale Theater with Connie and me. Her hearing and sight are deteriorating, but not much gets past her! She loves our visits, but misses Daddy terribly – a hole neither we nor her puppies can fill.
Connie and I are so grateful for each other and for our attentive husbands. Among the four of us, we make sure her needs are met – groceries bought, bills paid, prescriptions filled, sorted, and administered, etc. One or both of us are there nearly every day. Nevertheless, we miss things – a lapsed prescription, the shingles vaccine, a check-up – and we feel guilty. We even feel pangs if we don’t miss something. When I take Mom to the doctor, Connie feels bad that she didn’t. When she and Randy clean Mom’s house, I worry that Gar and I should have been there, too. And so it goes.
I dreamed the other night that Mom drove her 1994 Lincoln Continental somewhere and it broke down. She used the carphone to tell me what had happened and where she was. The dream turned into a nightmare when I dallied around and took three days before I went in search for her. When I found her, she was all cheerful and reassured me that she had been fine because she ate the candy bars and drank the water that was in her trunk. My eyes are tearing up as I write this. I don’t need a dream-interpreter to tell me I am worried that I am not doing enough for her.
Yes, caring for Mom is a huge responsibility, but it is also an honor and a joy. Through all of these ups and downs, there are many things we treasure. We are so happy that she holds on to her darling and quick wit. She loves Gary’s and Randy’s teasing, and she can dish it out, too. She keeps us laughing, and we love making her laugh. Mom is also appreciative. She expresses her gratitude to us over and over. If we mess up, she is forgiving. If we’re sick or hurting in some way, she worries and prays for us. If our children are excelling or struggling, she wants details. If we accomplish anything big or small, she cheers for us!
We love and adore our darling mom, and as hard as times are for her, we ache when we think of life without her. And so we ramp up our efforts and hold onto her as tight as we can, appreciating every minute, hour, and day we have with her.