Friday, May 7, 2010

Holding hands

"But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will fasten a belt around you
and take you where you do not wish to go."
John 21:18

Funny, I have seen this quote twice in less than 24 hours from two completely different places.  And, I have gone to places I do not wish to go this week. And my mother has done the same. 
There were times she went places and she did not know where she was. And it was scary for me. I did not wish to go there. 
As I had written earlier, Mom was in the hospital. She is home now, and is doing better, but during the time she was there, there were times she was somewhere else. She didn't know where she was - I didn't know where she was, but it wasn't any place I knew about. Her thoughts were convoluted - she had my living room across the hall in the hospital. She wanted to know where I had put my furniture. She did not realize she was even in the hospital.  Even connected to IV's and a catheter, she was determined to just get out of bed. So we had to put a device on the bed to signal if she attempted to get out. And she did....
They called me to come up to the hospital because they couldn't settle her down. Unfortunately I had left my phone on vibrate and had fallen asleep in the chair - I was tired and sleep deprived from several nights of interrupted sleep from  caring for her. They ended up contacting a friend (for whom I am grateful), and finally they reached me. I got up to the hospital close to 11 and she was pretty restless.  I told her it was time to go to sleep, and several times she attempted to get up. 
For the first time I had to tell Mama - "get in that bed" as one would do to a child. 
Mom woke up the next morning and was somewhat aware she had been confused, but didn't remember the details. And the doctor said it was not uncommon for that to happen to the elderly in the hospital. They're getting different medications, in a location in which they are not familiar, and they are sick.
I really did not want to hear the word "elderly" in reference to my mother - though I knew it already.

I really did not want to see Mom in a different world that night.

I really don't want to think I am 26 years younger than her and that one day I may experience some of the same frailties of aging.

This week, Mom has stretched out her arms for me to hold her hand on more than one occasion. Once during a painful situation and other times just to hold. Each week during church I hold her hand to guide her to the altar for communion.  But as I hold her hand, is she leading me? or am I leading her? Is she taking me to places I don't want to go as the scripture says? Perhaps it is mutual - we both are going down the path we do not want to go.

I feel so ill equipped at times. How do I know if I am giving her the care she needs? Am I missing something along the way? Does she not tell me things she really should tell me because she might feel as though she is being a burden? Or does she not tell me things for she fears I will take her to places she does not want to go?

No matter what, I know we will stretch out our hands and go....together....and sometimes it will be to places we will not wish to go....



  1. That sounds like a difficult week.

    My parents are 77 and 79, and I'm beginning to see them as "elderly." It's tough to feel like I'm switching roles, taking care of them.

    So I read your post with much sympathy.


  2. I am praying for you and your mom as you journey together on this unknown path.

  3. Thank you for this. It's a prayer I will have in my heart. Much love to you and your mama.

  4. I have been through your mixed blessing of watching your mother age. What I can tell you that might help is, it has been 17 years and it feels like yesterday. You will never lose the love for each other. God Bless You, Cathy. And your mom.

  5. Thank you for your thoughts Cathy. It reminded me of thoughts I had with my mother's illness. Will remember you and your mother in my prayers.

  6. Cathy, We never imagine the day when we will be "parenting our parents". We took care of my father in law for the last 4 years of his life with Parkinson's in our home. Now my parents are in their 80's and getting very frail. When our last child leaves home next year we may be faced with moving my parents in with us. Thank God you are willing to be a true daughter to your Mother. It is a true role reversal that isn't easy to adapt to, but I think it is the natural and true progression of love and family. Blessed Mother's day.

  7. I really like your take on "is she leading me places I do not want to go?" ... we sometimes take such an 'in-charge' view of the idea of leading.

    But I think your mom, in her frailty, in her aging, in her very presence, does indeed lead you.

    And you, in turn, lead others. Bless you both.

    Much love.