As I go to visit with my 97 year old mother in a nursing home, one she and I are most comfortable in, I go to check up on her at various hours and various days, but mainly I go to love her, remind her I live nearby, to talk with her, watch a baseball game with her, call my sisters with her, call her grandson, to check on her belongings and put things in drawers where she remembers that they probably are, and just be there with her.
Some days, she is perky and cheerful, full of jabber and stories. Other days she is sleepy or sleeping. Other days she is extremely confused, maybe
afraid. I never quite know just who I am going to visit. But it does not matter. She is my Mama and I love her. So I have learned to handle the moods, the needs, the moments, the dementia, over these thirteen years of being caregiver for her.
Last week, I arrived to a Mama sound asleep at 6:30 P.M. She woke up to the sound of one of the CNAs talking with me. She was not angry as she can be when awakened. She, very quietly, without opening her eyes, said, “I want two eggs over-easy, crisp bacon, rye toast, butter, no jelly.” Of course, I was sitting on the other side of the room and had to go sit next to her on her bed in order to actually hear this “order”. She did this once before to me and I scrambled to find the one and only restaurant in our small town that served breakfast all day. (This is shorter than me going to the grocer to buy bacon and rye bread. I have eggs!) So I hopped in the car, got her this special order. She had gone to the dining room at 5:00 P.M. but they were too slow for her this day and left before the dinner was served. They brought her tray to the room, but she only ate the salad and the pudding, I was told. When I returned from the restaurant with breakfast in hand, I barely was able to get her upright in order for her to eat and swallow. She was so sleepy that she kept falling over. Finally, I went and sat on the bed beside her, spoon-fed the eggs to her. (She kept dropping the eggs from the fork.) She handled the crispy bacon strips herself. The toast was not touched. When finished, she flopped back into bed and that was all she wrote. I kissed her and told her “I love you, Mama” and I heard a faint, “I love you too, and thank you.”
I cleaned up the meal and sat in her recliner watching her sleep. As Mama becomes older and needs help like this particular night, I find that my love for this once-strongly-independent woman grows exponentially as she becomes weaker and less able to do for herself. Don’t get me wrong, on her
good days, she can do so much alone at 97 that it is wonderful. But on these confused or weakened days, the staff or others, including me, must help her do so much.
As I sit there at times like this nighttime breakfast, I just love her. I feel the way a mother must feel for her children when they are the most needy, at those very young ages. Since I was never a mother, I am only imagining, but I believe I have it right. I am the mother to her now on so many days. I love it that God has allowed me to be her caregiver and her daughter.
Thank You, LORD, for giving me this beautiful mother. I am grateful for the time we have, and for the sweet memories You are giving me now with
her. She is a jewel and I pray she is Yours, LORD. I believe she is. (Thank You for that reassurance You just gave me, Sweet LORD. Thank You.) Thank You for all she has done for me throughout our journey together these past 63 years. I am glad she is my mother and that You have allowed me to be her child, her grown daughter, her friend. O, Abba Father, You have blessed me with much. No matter how much time she has left, may I walk Your Way with her until the day You take her home. Amen.
I love you, Mama … I whisper.