The Long Road
I looked at her face and I could tell that she was really trying hard not to let me see her fear. Even in her diminished mental state she was more concerned for me, her daughter, than she was for herself. She was trying to make the most of this temporary situation. I'm sure she was afraid I would never come back and get her ever again and that she would live the rest of her days in this God forsaken place. Actually, the place was Holyrood Manor and it was a lovely and bright place - much nicer than some I'd been in over the years. The staff were friendly and cheery and her room looked out over the front parking lot so that she could sit in her chair and see who was coming and going. She had her own TV and washroom. We had brought her pictures and her memory album so that she could look at it and remember, because new situations always made her more confused.
My mother, who will be 89 this November, came to live with me 11 years ago. She was reasonably healthy, having just gone through a bout of breast cancer. My biggest fear was that she would become ill and no one would be there to help her. But rather than having some big deal with more cancer or a heart attack, my mom has developed dementia. Four years ago a stroke made sure that her mind would never be her own again and little tiny strokes are stealing her memories and abilities one by one.
However, even though she calls me Norah sometimes (her sister's name) I know she knows I'm her daughter. In the morning she knows I'm her baby girl, her one and only girl. By evening she wants to know when she's going home and where is Dad. Then I have to tell her the news all over again that Dad is gone, he passed away 28 years ago now. You can tell by the look on her face that this is a painful revelation. It breaks my heart every time.
It's all I can do these days to remain strong for her. I'm beginning to break under the strain of looking after her while holding down a full time job and having two young boys at home. But she is so dependent on me and I'm her safety net. All she wants is to be with her family and it breaks my heart to think of placing her in a nursing home. Whatever happens, I know that God will look after us both and that He will give us wisdom and guidance.
When I went to pick her up she was sitting in the dining room with three other ladies. One of them was giving the LPN a really hard time and cursing at her. My mom and the other two ladies were just sitting there, trying not to acknowledge the outburst. I came up behind her and leaned around to give her a kiss on the cheek. She cried out in surprise! When she realized I was there to take her home her reaction was priceless. She got up and looked at all the ladies and said, "Well, good bye ladies. It was nice to meet you and I hope I never see you again!"
I love that woman!