It’s been a tough couple of years for Mom. Those of you that know her understand that she is a truly remarkable woman. She reluctantly retired from the Little Rock Police Department at age 83. She really didn’t want to stop working, but Dad’s health was getting so bad that he needed someone with him and she was the logical choice. I think she’d still be working today if she could. She loved kidding around with the guys at the police department, and I’m sure she delighted in embarrassing Tracey every chance she got.
Sgt. Marty Garrison was one of her all time favorites. Marty is not a real common name and the fact that they had the same name is really funny . Marty and I went to high school together. I guess he likes older women because once he met my mom she became his favorite girl friend instead of me or Tracey. Of course “Moe Dee” has hundreds of girlfriends but his wife is a really good sport about it.
Marty would call my mom and say “Miss Marty, what are you wearing today?” Mom would answer “Well Marty, you know today is Thursday, so it’s Thong Day!” or “Well Marty, nothing but a smile!” and then they would both roar with laughter. Now she was sitting right smack dab in the middle of the Detective Division, and everyone around her would hear the conversation. How could you help but laugh with that feisty little 80 year old woman?
She had a couple of episodes this last year that really scared us. We thought it might be dementia or Alzheimer’s but apparently the problem was with some of her medications. Mentally she is still the person she always was, but physically her body is showing her age. She is frail.
The problems started when she was staying with us here in Colorado. She was dizzy and getting more and more weak . She broke down one morning and told me she was afraid every night when she went to bed. She thought she was going to die. We thought it might be the altitude since we live at 5,000 feet above sea level but we couldn’t be sure. It was impossible to get her in to a physician out here so we got her back to Little Rock so she could see her doctors. We both cried when I put her on the plane. I really thought it would be the last time I saw my mom.
Those of you with older parents know the struggle. They want to stay in their house. They want to stay with familiar surroundings and all the memories that live in the brick and mortar of their home. But we were all scared to death of her living by herself. My brother was living with her to help out, but he is a fireman so he could not be there every day or night.
I would talk to her on the phone. She always tried to put a good spin on it, but once or twice she broke down. She was lonely, depressed, bored. Sitting in her recliner, reading and dozing in the chair. Afraid to walk, plus it hurt. Phone calls and visits from friends and relatives helped, but life was not fun anymore. Even when Michael or Tracey took her somewhere it was an ordeal. It takes a long time to get her loaded and unloaded in a car. She walks very very slowly. She’s even agreed to use a walker instead of a cane, which showed us how precarious it was for her to walk. She would apologize for taking so long, tearing up a couple of times at her helplessness. It broke my heart.
She got more and more weak at home. Stopped taking her “pee pills” because she didn’t want to walk to the bathroom so much. I think she was afraid of falling. Some ups, more downs, then we had to put her in a rehab facility to help her get her strength back.
In retrospect that was one of the best things that happened over the last couple of years. She was around other people, she got her strength back. When Steve and I stopped by to see her on our way back to Colorado from a trip to Alabama she told me that she wanted to stay there. I never thought I’d hear that.
She was too capable to stay in the rehab facility. But Michael did some research and got her on the list for a place in West Little Rock. She insisted on a lake view so they had to wait a couple of weeks.
Mom is now ensconced in her apartment. She has all her meals provided for her, which is great because she is an awful cook and wasn’t eating anyways. She has made some new friends, and toodles around checking on everyone. She is painting again and having fun. She likes to sit on her porch by the lake and nap in the sun.
This was not an easy process. There was conflict among us siblings. Miscommunications and anger. All of us wanted to do the right thing; none of us really know what the right thing was. My brother Michael really stepped up and found the place, made the arrangements. He handles the bank account and make sure the bills are paid. He is the chauffer for the myriad of doctor’s appointments. Tracey stops by everyday to see Mom almost every day. She and Terry took her to Tunica for Mothers Day. Together they make sure that what needs to be done gets done.
She told me today that she likes her place. She’s glad she is there. This time is a blessing, she is safe and at peace. She said “you know Michelle, these extra years have been a gift.” She doesn’t have to worry about being alone if she falls, or if she has another heart attack. She doesn’t have to worry about money, or if the roof needs to be fixed. I’m so very thankful that this all worked out the way it did.
She is 86. Marty is the miracle lady with several heart attacks, a hole in her heart and a pacemaker that doesn’t work anymore. I know her time on this earth is measured in months instead of decades. I wish I could see her more. I wish she didn’t hurt. I wish for so many things but they can’t be changed.
But I’m so thankful that we still have her and I can talk to her on the phone. I’m thankful that Keely, Steve and I had months with her while she lived with us in Colorado. And I’m thankful that her friends in Little Rock stop by to see her and take her to lunch.
My mom does not like getting old. I don’t blame her. It sucks. But she does know without a doubt that she is loved.