Monday, May 24, 2010

A sister's point of view

My youngest sister, who is Mom's main care-giver, wrote this on Mom's birthday. I meant to include it with our round-robin emails, because she didn't have time to write much that morning when the rest of us wrote our...anyway, here it is now.

Today is my mother’s 80th birthday; she sits in a wheel care in a nursing home, her cognitive powers pretty well gone. She has Alzheimer’s. She made it to 80, but if she knew she would hate this existence. She lives each day in her chair, can’t do anything for herself, even eating has become something others help her with. She can’t communicate, enjoy, even hugging doesn’t come naturally anymore.
She was always proud of her intelligence and that she was a professional. She asked us to use our brains and do our best. She was always teaching, that was her profession; but even after she retired she continued teaching; at church, her grandchildren, even her own children. Even when the dementia first started, she read and learned and worked to stave it off.
She was not the perfect mother, but she was our mother. We have not been perfect children, but we are her children. And now her shell of a body lives on, our mother is gone. There are pieces of her in all of us, even in our children. All our children have a love of learning, just like both our parents, most of them love to read, that they got from Mom. She started reading to them as infants, just as she fed my babies ice cream first. She loved her children and grandchildren.
Even our parenting has pieces of our upbringing, some of it as different from them as could be, but some of it very much the same. The value of family, the importance of relationships, the chance to gather for celebrations, the actual “making” of celebrations; all things we got from our parents. The importance of education/learning, the idea of finding what were good at, the need to help other and make things better for those who follow; all things our parents taught us. I should also add respect for other and moral uprightness, we all have and learned very young.
And I care for her, not in my home, but I do. It was the way we were raised to honor our mother, care for her. Dad asked us on his death bed to be there and help her. The pain of this day has been intense, as my sister said, “in another situation we would be having a party for her this weekend, people would be coming, we would be planning”. Instead, I took her a colorful balloon, sat with her, sang her the birthday song, prayed for her, tried to tell her we are all thankful for the life her and Dad gave us, that we love her, that we are sorry for this. She dosed, smiled a little and held her stuffed animal. Happy Birthday Mom.

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