My mom Betty lives in a nursing home. She has dementia and at the age of 87 doesn’t have lots of conversation left – most of the time! Sometimes there are incredible breakthroughs and they usually arrive from left field. Her husband of almost 65 years died at the end of March. He had a great death but she misses him. She doesn’t talk about it a lot, but often she’s sad. As she said to me last week: “This is a horribly solitary life.” …Pause… “but I can bear it.”
It’s hard losing your mom like this. But if she can bear the loneliness, I can bear the loss. In the meantime we have a sweet and wonderful relationship. I sometimes feel it’s like having a child – in reverse. She certainly cuddles into my arms and takes love and nourishment confidently from me. But she’s disappearing not individuating. Thankfully the love isn’t going away. I don’t think it ever will. Before Daddy died, it was what he was most concerned about… that I would love and care for her. So, I do. For him and for me. Because I’m lucky enough to have been a well loved child. Loving back is my sweet reward!
Betty was a wonderful artist. From time to time you’ll see some of her artwork in the blog. She raised three children 2 daughters and a son in small town Pennsylvania. She was and she remains very social. She adored her Sammy, my dignified thoughtful daddy, Sam.
I am with Mommy almost every day, usually at a meal. She eats much better if I am there. As she eats, I am coming to know the other ladies (and the few men) who eat on the early shift. I want to tell you a bit about these wonderful women and the men, their quirks and personalities, the food and their families, and the caretakers who love and tend them.
I want you to get to know her compatriots and find out that life isn’t without its richness, even in places like this. Forget the horror stories, although there are certainly places that aren’t perfect. This is where your parents are being cared for. The more you know, the more you expect, the better care they’ll get.