So recently I moved my mother from what will probably be the last house that she will ever purchase again, into a 2-bedroom senior apartment. The down-size was fast and furious and the release for her was glorious. I have wanted her to do this for years upon years. But she has always been an active member of any community that she has been a part of. So a quick get up and go would not be easy. And as a blessing for her only daughter (me), she stayed in a home far beyond her means to allow her only grand-daughter the privilege of going to the high school of her choosing thru til graduation. Her decision allowed me to work on the building of a mobile business that has provided a corporate free life for over 6 years. The difficulties with all of our choices never swayed her from the sacrifices that she continued to make week, after month, after year. There are no words or deeds that can repay what she has done for me and my children. And in my efforts to be a better daughter, I stopped my life for several days on several occasions to help her get done what was necessary…just as she has numerous times for my brother and I over our lifetime.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where the rolls of parent and child take on a reversal. The feeling of its beginnings crept up on my shoulders this past week as she has begun to settle in. Not just on the surface, but deep down inside, I have a stirring to be prepared to meet her needs and stop my life periodically. I’ve been observing how the changes of life have taken its toll over the last 30 years…on her…and on me. It reminds me of a song I’ve loved by Bonnie Raitt called The Nick of Time. There is a portion of the lyrics that go like so:
I see my folks, they’re getting old, I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me, And it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself, It’s what we all go through
Those eyes are pretty hard to take when they’re staring’ back at you
Scared you’ll run out of time
When did the choices get so hard?
With so much more at stake
Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste
Hummmm Scared to run out of time
These few lines reflect the reality of the inevitable transformation of man/woman from one phase to the next and what we can expect by simply looking into the same face we have from the day we were born. It’s a pleasant, spectacular, beautiful and mortifying experience at each perspective phase, and at times, all together at once. So here I am, not at the end, or even near the end, but much closer than I was the last time I considered it. Yet even though I am at a very freeing and liberating place in my life, and the first thought that comes to mind when I consider my future is how my mother will do in her new environment and life that she has created for herself. As well as the effect of the medical difficulties that have taken hold of that which she has considered her “normal” life for so long. Praying in silence that the newness will have healing effects and restore her to someone closer to the woman I am use to calling “Mom”.
However, the reality of my current situation is that of many at my age, this clarity is one that creates a kaleidoscope of views on, not only the present issues at hand, but on how my mother must have viewed things at this age with the multitude of decisions that she had to make within the larger perspective of her own personal struggle and the complexities of that which she knew her own life to contain. My heart goes out to her former self in ways that I cannot explain without thorough apologies following. The depth that comes with all of this is a pool of cold stunning water that would leave one unprepared with a quick case of mental hypothermia. It’s fascinating to me how the simple thing of helping my mom move into a new home that, in itself represents a new phase of life for her, has me thinking about things. Not so much mortality, in as much as I have never believed that we would live forever. But instead, the steady, never ending flow of life itself. The fact that no matter how you plan for other things, that This Little Thing Called Life will continually run its course regardless of plans made or eagerness anticipated.
I grow more and more appreciative for the time that I still have with mom. I am also more focused on the things that I have had a strong desire to do for years but never accomplished. About what things I can do to bring pride to her while she is still here with me. I remember a time when she said to me, “Don’t bring me flowers when I die. How can I appreciate them then?” A fair question to be sure. So I aim to bring joy to her heart now while I have the opportunity to see it on her face myself, instead of wondering how bright her smile might be behind the clouds.