No… you won’t find me on the front page of the STAR!
This is a story about role reversal and the challenges that come with it.
First of all, most of you know that I have finished the job of raising my children. All four of them are out of the house, married or not, and are all beautiful and caring individuals. Both my husband and I are proud of each and every one of them.
I lost my dad in 1996 to a heart attack and I knew all along that I would eventually have to take my mother into our home because she would lose her central vision due to Macular Degeneration. This is a debilitating eye disease that comes on slowly and causes you to become legally blind. She lived by herself in NJ for a number of years until she was diagnosed with colon cancer, which is when she had to leave her home of 47 years, which she loved so dearly. She left her friends, her belongings and pretty much her life in the little town I grew up in and I was left to clean out the house and sell it for her. It was a trying time for all of us and the adjustment of having my mother move in with me after being totally independent since the age of 18 was a whole other world!
You don’t realize it until you are a parent yourself I guess, that you never really stop worrying about your children. And to this day, my 95-year old mother wants to know where I’m going, what I’m doing and when I will be home. AND to this day, I’ll never stop losing my temper about it. If I’m an hour late coming home from someplace because of a delay or other issue, the proverbial “Where have you been?” arises and the hair on the back of my neck stands up. I try not to react after the 12 years she’s been living with me because in my mind I know that she is just being a mother the same as me. I also know that her world has shrunk to Books for the Blind and listening to the TV because she can’t see anything anymore. She is housebound and has many medical ailments. Worst of all is the depression she suffers because she doesn’t want to be alive any more. I understand this. I am also very fortunate to have a caring husband who welcomed her into our home and helps with many things for her.
A lot of people don’t understand why I keep her with me. Well you see…. I literally grew up in Leave It To Beaver Land! I had a wonderful childhood, I grew up in the country part of NJ, I went to a great brand new high school and I was encouraged to excel in whatever path I took into adulthood. My dad worked an 8-4 job. My mom was a stay-at-home mom who sewed our clothes and baked cookies. She was a great mom. So the thought of putting her in a nursing home never crossed my mind.
But the trials of being a caretaker for a blind, profoundly deaf, elderly parent don’t come without its challenges. She has many medical problems and I have had to act like a nurse many days. And sad to say I have lost my temper plenty of times with this poor woman and wish I had the patience of a saint to make her last days as good as they possibly can be with her limited world.
So I guess I’m writing this as a confession to put into words the feelings of guilt that overcome me some days. I truly love my mother and I don’t know why the last years of her life have been so difficult for her. I guess it’s true that bad things happen to good people. I wish I could give her back the sight she lost. It would make all the difference in her world, but I can’t. And I guess that’s the toughest part for me also, because I feel like that parent again when a child hurts and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.
She was a great mom….
She still is.
And I love her.