Monday, April 26, 2010

Crossing over

Here you see a picture of my Mom and me. It was taken at my daughter's home while we were celebrating my son in law's birthday.

Mom is 80 years old and lives with us. We have a little apartment for her that is connected to our home, but separate at the same time. We are thankful we can have that space for her and that she is with us.

However, with that thankfulness is an awareness that Mom is becoming more frail. Her body doesn't always cooperate with her. Yesterday, I was so very aware of the toll aging has taken on her.

We went to the birthday party, which takes a about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. There is the mandatory pit stop we must make. We strategically have to find a parking place which makes it easy for her to get into the building. Of course the handicapped parking area is as far away from the door as you can park.

Mom can no longer go into a place by herself. The doors are too heavy, and the maneuvering of a door and a walker make it difficult to manage. And with the walking, making it to the bathroom "in time" usually doesn't happen any more.  And, yesterday, Mom did not bring any supplies to take care of her problem. Mom doesn't always remember those things anymore of being prepared. We made do for the evening.

At the party, Mom sat in the house for a while, but then was ready to go out where the action was happening. Not an easy task any more, I scope out what obstacles will prevent her doing what she would like to do and how to make it work for her. Taking the small step out the back door is challenging, as she is reminded to lock the walker so she has stability to make the step.

We got her a chair to sit outside and arranged it so she could sit, but not have to walk as far. When I say that, the slight uneven surfaces can be a challenge for her now, and a mere couple of feet of uneven surface she needs assistance. Thank you to the nurse who saw the need for some extra special attention to Mom and helped.

We were one of the first to leave, as we had to travel a good ways compared to the other folks. When we arrived home, she was worn out from the short trip, and as she entered her apartment,  I saw a worn out Mom.

This morning Mom did not go to church - she had a headache she said - my guess she was worn out from the night before.

Over the past few years, Mom's independence is fading. She is no longer driving (not her decision), she wants me to make decisions for her. Bill paying, medications, meals, and scheduling doctor's appointments are all a part of the responsibilities that she no longer has to worry about.

I won't say it's easy to care for an aging parent. There's the angst of wondering if I am doing all that needs to be done. There's the part of Mom that knows she is becoming increasingly more frail and less independent. There is the feeling of being on the hamster wheel of knowing that the responsibility continues 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. There is the selecting of food that we know she will be able to eat. There's the occasional fall (thank goodness for those "Help I've fallen and I can't get up" buttons) that happens in the middle of the night. There's the changing of linens at the least expected times. There are times of disorientation, yet there are times when she is crystal clear in thought, but those times are fewer.

I want to cherish these times when I see a part of Mom that I remember - the times that I see her are beginning to fade, but occasionally they shine through and I get that glimpse of Mom as I remember her.

I offer this prayer to those of you who might be experiencing  caregiving for aging parents. I found it on this web site:

Blessed Breath of God, of Life, breathe through me now. In this moment, I feel the sweet and merciful fullness of God in me. I have the wisdom, grace and love of God filling my soul.

Precious God, as I watch my aging  mother change and move through the cycles of life, I am filled with emotion. Help me to be a patient and loving adult child in this experience. Show me how to honor my feelings and how to be aware of all the lessons and gifts you have for me in this experience.

I appreciate my  mother, and all that she, has brought to my life. I feel the early taste of grief as I realize  her mortality….and my own. Fill me with respect, a big heart and a giving spirit, Lord. Help me to know the right things to do in each situation; may I always be a Light to them as their journey continues.

Prepare me Lord, for what lies ahead. Only you know the richness of our journey, God. In our Oneness, I know you light the way for them and for me. May sweet and merciful angels be with our family throughout all our days. I give thanks for the many gifts I have already received in this family and the gifts in the days to come. All is well and God is good. Amen.



  1. Dear Cathy - I will keep you and your dear mother in my prayers. And your children too, as all of you feel the pull, the frailty and the unknown.

    I encourage you to look into your family leave policy at your school - see if you can take days or even weeks at a time to spend some time with your mom now, while she is healthy enough to do the little things ... I hope that the State of Georgia values families enough to be able to offer this.

    I have two parents right now in their mid-70's .... each becoming a bit more frail and less independent. Leaving the water running til the sink overflows... twice. Falling. Catching a cold that takes six weeks to recover from. Doctors appointments that fill up a week that used to be filled with Bridge games, golf and fishing.

    Your loving and prayerful words help me still my worries, and remember to turn to God. Who will be my strength in the coming days.

    Yours too!

    Much love -


  2. Thank you for this. Love you. And love this picture!!

  3. Cathy,
    What a beautiful picture of you and your mom. My prayers are with you and your mom. I miss my mom so much at times, yet I was also blessed by the opportunity to be with her during her last months on earth. It can be hard to be the "mom" for our moms when we so much want her to be mothering us. I agree with Cindy above. Does your district have any provision for this kind of family leave? Or do you have sick days you can use in this circumstance? Be sure you have some support for yourself too. (((hug)))

  4. Wonderful photo and one I am sure you will cherish. You are in what they call the sandwich generation and it is not fun being the bologna but well worth it when you look back years to come and know you did all you could. God Bless as this will not be easy.