We are all on a journey. It is different for everyone. No one can prepare for this journey because what happens on it and where it takes us is completely random.
The journey of which I speak is the one we begin when our parents begin to fail. I don’t mean “fail” in the sense that they seem older, or look older, or act older. I mean when they actually have an event, which ages them quickly. Sometimes it is a fall, or a broken bone. Sometimes it is a heart attack or a stroke. Sometimes it is a disease like Cancer or Diabetes or Parkinsons Disease. And worst of all it can happen that they become demented in some way, generally from Alzheimers Disease.
When one of these things happen, life suddenly changes dramatically. I remember the first time something like that occurred with my mother. It was Memorial Day 2007, and she had had a pool party. After the guests left she was gathering wet towels to take to the house to be washed and she tripped and fell. She broke her hip. Lucky for her she was not alone when she fell. Her secretary was nearby and called an ambulance.
I heard about this by phone, as I was driving a car with my sister in law, as a passenger, somewhere near Great Meadow in The Plains Virginia. I remember it very well, because it was such a shock. To be told one’s 89 year old Mother has broken her hip is intense. And for many people that is the end of the line. They never really recover. They sort of give up. It crossed my mind that Mother might not come back from this, but immediately after that thought, I rejected it. NO! My Mother will NOT give up. I will go to the hospital and make sure she knows this is just an inconvenience.
SO off I rushed. I actually arrived before they wheeled Mother into the operating room. But I did not try to interfere and no one asked me for my opinion. Later we discovered that Dr Harris had given Mother a “partial” hip replacement, rather a total one. When I asked him about it, he said “I did not know your mother. All I knew was that I had a patient who was 89 years old, with a broken hip. Most people who are that age do not want to be ready to go to dances at the country club. They are finished. But, now that I know your mother, I know better.
When I saw mother after the operation she was doing OK, but she was worried. I stayed with her from then on, sleeping in her room on one of those horrid expandable chairs that supposedly become a bed. Ha!!! Horrible. But I stayed and coached mother day and night, about how she could beat the odds. I felt my job was to convince her that she would get better. That she would be dancing again, soon and that she was NOT DONE. I talked to her about it in an upbeat way, until I was blue in the face!
Everyone knows I can be a contrarian. In this case, every person I met was saying “such a shame about your mother”, as if she was dying. That just made me more determined to make sure she did not. She liked the idea that she would be better soon. She was willing to do the work. She did not let this setback defeat her.
Mother was by no means finished. She was in a hurry to get better. She got herself up to Newport, in a hospital plane. That was 12 years ago. She got better over the summer and was dancing by Labor Day. She resumed driving and she was just fine. She was back!!!
But, I was different. My trust in Mother always being healthy and alive, was shaken just a bit. She was such a great patient. She showed herself to be willing to do the rehab, and not be depressed. In many ways she was an inspiration. Today she is fast approaching 101 years old. Now my part of the journey is often sad. But Mother is still beautiful and healthy. She still wants to be where ever there is action.
Copyright 2019 Bonnie B. Matheson