Friday, April 1

getting on with it

It is interesting how long it can take to accept, get used to and just get on with things. For me, anyway, it can take a long, long time. Lately, tho', it has been easier just to get on with it-whatever "it" may be. And this in spite of the constant distraction and problem-solving of the build for my mom's new rooms (nearly there...will share soon!). Bath day is a good example...I don't know why I tended to dread it until very recently. In the early days with Mom, it was nerve-wracking working around the broken wrist, her wobbliness in the shower, the challenge of helping her to stand up after a bath. Now, we are old pros at it...showers only, accomplished as quickly as possible before she tires, all the shampooing and washing rituals firmly in place.

I have learned to respect Mom's shyness about the whole process, and the fact that she can't remember that we have done this week in, week out for more than a year. So I repeat the same instructions and assurances as we go through each step...most steps of which she can still do herself, which is something I don't ever take for granted. The one part of "bath day" that I do completely is the flossing of her teeth. But we have that down to a quick and not-bad-at-all process with flossing sticks and yummy natural mouthwash.

And throughout the process are moments when Mom breaks into little songs that she make up about some phrase I have spoken-"step over carefully" or "sit down on the toilet". It is sweet. She always expresses her appreciation of how good the lotion feels when I massage it into legs and arms and back. 
Tho' it is a strain for her to hear me while her hearing aids are out during the whole bath-time, I jolly her along with jokes and reminiscence...reminding her, for instance, when I encouraged her to try to throw the crumpled tissue in the trash-basket (it hit the rim!), that she was called "Dead-eye" in high school for her basketball talents. 

A few weeks ago as I was sitting on the rug at her feet, rubbing lotion onto her legs, Mom said "I used to do this for my mother." I stopped in surprise...Mom hasn't remembered anything about caring for her mother (which she did for the last ten or so years of my grandmother's life) for many years. I asked her what she did for her mother. She replied "helped her to bathe". I found this very moving. And it is these little "rewards" of memory, insight, humor and connection that help me to keep on with a little more ease and energy than I might otherwise have.


*These photos were taken a few weeks ago when I took my mom on a walk to our old orchard to see the asian pear tree in bloom. She didn't enjoy it as I had hoped she would...the air was too cold, the earth too rough for her, but she perked up when she saw this "fellow" in the tree. We laughed at his forlorn face, and for once, I wasn't spooked by what she "sees" in the trees and fields. For once, I could see it, too.*


J. Chapman said...

Oh Lesley,

each of these journals where you share in the day to day duties with your mom and the joys you witness are wonderful. They remind me of my dad and other wonderful older people that I have heard about as their days unfold and they encounter "new" things and tasks that they need assistance with. Your mom is so lucky! God bless you all! Missing you today at the spring show. -Julie

melissa said...

This is so encouraging to me because with me grudgingly helping my mother, it's good for me to see others in harder circumstances. Puts it into perspective. My mom is still at her own home, but still I fuss and bother.

My attitude needs growing up, I know. It's hard, though, to make the change from seeing a parent be independent and suddenly more child-like. Guess I wasn't prepared.

Thanks for sharing your love for your mom. You are a sweet daughter.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post, in every way. You're an amazing photographer!

I wish my mom would let me help her with her teeth. It's a hurdle we haven't been able to get past yet. She insists on doing it herself, but always misses half her teeth, and the results have been disasterous - I've lost count of how many cavities this year.

sarah said...

in your kindness and care, you are such a heroine.

Anonymous said...

This is a very nice post - it has a gentle feel to it. I helped my mom shower on occasion when she was in assisted living. Mom often resisted when staff tried to help her. I always enjoyed it for some reason. I ended up soaking wet most of the time. But there is little more intimate than showering one's mother, I guess, and I found some sort of solace in that task. I wish I had thought to use lotion - she probably would have enjoyed that a lot. And how interesting that it brought out a memory for her.