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maintaining sanity

by Judy
December 13, 2012 

Such a changing landscape; one minute I am in communion with my mom. She is lying so peacefully in the early morning hours; dark outside as the rain comes down and it’s so sweet with her… and now I feel like screaming inside. She is moaning and groaning as she lies on a bedpan; her choice not to get up and go to the bathroom. It’s so hard to listen to her groans. I can’t distance myself from that as much as I try. It pierces consciousness.

Nearing the end of life aint always pretty. People live longer; pacemakers, bypasses, medication, oxygen tanks…on and on it goes to keep people breathing, but what happens to the quality of life. Mom said to me this morning her friends are disappearing. She doesn’t have many left and they don’t call that often. She wants company when she is awake all the time. She doesn’t want to be alone.

And at the same time she has such good fortune. She is not in a nursing home and the women caring for her are so loving. She could not ask for better care. And she has me as well.

What can I communicate that will lift us all up? I’m not sure. So many people are going through this: those who are nearing the end of life and those who are caring for them and those numbers are getting larger as the pre-boomers live longer and the boomers give care. People didn’t live so long years ago and families were extended. Life conditions change; cultures change; values change.

This morning I am off to Lenox, MA. Six days away. Mom said this morning she hates for me to go. I said to her at one point I only wish her to be happy and she said that my being happy makes her happy. I know fundamentally there is this woman, my mom, still in her and a lot of the time it doesn’t shine through. This morning when I went for a swim I thought, I need to maintain my sanity and that means getting away sometimes, swimming even when mom is suffering and fundamentally that is what she would want. I thought of all the caregivers who so easily can get burnt out; it is a stressful situation. That’s just the way it is, but to remember that even when those we care for don’t show the qualities that were there before “everything changed” we still need to honor that for their sake and for our sake and for the sake of humanity. I know at the best of times, my mother would not want me to give up my whole life for her; where I am burnt out and drained, and at the same time right now in her condition she is so self-centered; so self-absorbed in her pain and suffering that this side of her does not shine through. She does not have that ability to put herself in other shoes most of the time. And sometimes she does.

(Originally written August 4, 2012)

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