I tried to convince myself that the difficulty we had talking on the phone was caused by Mom’s hearing getting worse. Her hearing loss is a contributing factor, but the reality is she is confused. Her physical health has been deteriorating, and now it would appear that her mental facilities are following suit.
There are all the platitudes… “She is 87; she has lived a long life” “She should have died from a heart attack when she was 52, you have had her a lot of extra years” “It’s the cycle of life, we all die”
They have been said to me. I’ve said them to myself. I’ve recited them to my siblings.
All of those statements are true, and none of them make any difference.
This hurts. Losing my mom just plain hurts.
I haven’t seen her for several months. I knew when I put her on the plane in Denver after her last visit that I would never see her in Colorado again. The altitude and lack of oxygen are too difficult for a frail old lady that is battling for life every day with only one third of her heart working.
We visited briefly when Steve and I were in Little Rock in the spring. She was in a nursing home/rehab facility and was looking forward to being released pretty soon. She went home a few weeks later, and then the difficult decision was made to move her into an assisted living facility.
She had lived in that house for 47 years. Raised a family there. Celebrated holidays and birthdays. It was home. It was where we all gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas to squabble and fuss and be a family. It was her home and she dug in fiercely whenever we brought up the subject of selling.
But finally, even Marty had to admit that it was dangerous for her to stay by herself.
She tried to convince herself that she liked the assisted living facility, but it was a tough sell. She rebelled once, called me and told me she was going back home. When I reminded her that the house was empty and up for sale, she changed direction and said she would go live with her family in Michigan. I gently signed off on the phone call with the words “Let’s give it a few days and see how you feel about it then, Mom”
She was trapped in that place, in that life, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Fast forward several months and she is back in the nursing home/rehab. She can’t walk, or even sit up in bed by herself now, so she can’t stay in the assisted living.
I think, deep down in my soul, that she has given up. And I can’t say that I blame her.
The mom I know, the Marty that many love, is barely recognizable. Instead, there is a confused and very frail little lady. The indomitable fighter doesn’t want to fight anymore. I don’t think she can think of anything really worth fighting for.
There are no challenges, no battles to fight, no goals. She’s expected to drift from meal to meal. And the meals don’t interest her anymore. She hurts. She has heard everything we could think of to say to her before. She has experienced so much, and now her body keeps her prisoner.
I think her brain has decided to shield her with a blanket of cotton to keep the sharp emotions from hurting her. I’m grateful for that.