Crazy as a Loom

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just a few words.

Washing my mother's hair, in the shower.  She is sitting on her shower chair, wash cloth to her eyes, head forward, while I lather up her hair.  She winces as the water hits her, even though I have taken great care to test the temperature.
It is never just right.  I try to accept that I cannot get this, like many other things, just right.

As I gently massage her head, I smell the shampoo, feel the silky suds between my fingers, and I imagine that this woman was once a little girl,  an adolescent, a teen, a young war bride, a young mother.  In those few moments, a kaleidoscope of images of her,  both imagined and remembered, transport me.
I forget that she has arrived where she is today.  I forget that her body is giving out, that now, she is not in so many ways the mother I have known my whole life.
I remember my Mom, the one who was always there for ME.

But then the shampoo, and the shower, are over.  She is stepping out onto the mat, and she starts to cry, frustrated that her recently broken arm still hurts her so much.
And the nurse in me, though I wish her gone forever, appears.
I assess, and question, and assess, and as patiently as I can, direct her to the exercises she has neglected, hand her the pain meds and the glass of water, as she tries to evade me.
But I am a good Nurse Ratchett, and I get it done.
I serve her a cuppa tea, and leave her to her TV.  This somewhat short exchange has exhausted me on a level I can't identify.
While I knew that it is a basic truth, that you are never ready to lose your mother, now I know even more, that you will always long for the mother you knew.

That's really all I have right now.


Hilary said...

Hugs to you. That's all I have right now.

Anonymous said...

The seasons just keep on turning and time, as they say, marches on. I'm sorry she is still hurting. No one likes to hurt. :-(

Sue said...

your post made me cry, I was where you are not too long ago. When my Mother died, I had a hard time with the loss, but I had been grieving for years over the loss of my sweet Mother on many levels, as you now. Blessings and peace for both of you.

Deb said...

Part of you will always want your mother. The mother that you were so proud of. I lost my mom after a battle with cancer and it was the worst pain to watch her life come to an end. There is no pain like that. I understand how you feel and I know too that we are always their child while they are here with us but our duties change and it's never easy to make that change. Mine was short-lived and yours seems to be going on for awhile now. Talk out your feelings with the rest of the family so you don't feel like you are going through this alone. They will understand, sort of. At least I'm sure they will try their hardest. Hugs to you. Deb

Linda said...

I can easily see how it would be exhausting considering all the emotions that must be tied into the task of bathing your mother. It is hard!

linda said...

I hope that it helps you to talk it best friend and I are both nurses. We simultaneously nursed a parent through the last months of their lives. Her dad, my mom.

If I didn't have Vik to vent to I would have gone stark staring mad. If you need a shoulder to vent on, you're in the right place.

Your mom appreciates you more than you know.

Bonnie said...

So true. More challenging than we can imagine from a distance, I'm sure.

The exhaustion comes in part because apart from the obvious - you are grieving the loss of what you once had, the permanent loss to come, and some part of you cannot help but anticipate life when it brings you to the same place as your dear mother is now.

Perhaps this is how life prepares us for our eventual demise. It is so hard to wrap our little minds around, that nature gives us a vivid picture of it with the life/death of our parent(s).

As linda says, it is so good for you to be able to process/talk/write about how it all affects you here in your blog.

Your Mom is very lucky to have a courageous, competent daughter like you.

Rain said...

Hillary-This pulls at my heart so-because I am there where you are and it is so hard. Your words are helping me too.

Karen said...

You will forever feel peace because of this time you are giving her now. As hard as it is in the moment, you will be glad for it down the road.

Sharon said...

I've just started reading Anne Rivers Siddons latest book and it just about this, we women and the living three generations. I just finished reading Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer, and realize that there are cultures who don't live long enough to know what we are even talking about.

kelley said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you as I am in the same sort of spot with two elderly parents...make sure you get some time for yourself no matter what...

claudia w said...

Oh are such a special lady. My heart goes out to you and your Mom. My prayers are with you both as well.

Anonymous said...

Hilary, you are not Nurse Ratchet! You are a kind and thoughtful person who is doing the best you can with the situation that was handed to you. Hug Roy Boy and go for a walk, you will feel much better. Hugs....

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Wow, I can so relate, but I know my sister can even more than me. Since mom moved to Alabama where my sister lives, ten years ago, she has been the one to endure seeing mom deteriate from Alzheimer's the past few years. My sister is a RN, but works from home for the VA in an administrative position now after working with patients for years at the VA clinics and nursing home. She says it's so much more difficult to care for your own mother, because of all the emotions and memories.
I love early fall too, and am looking forward to cooler temps and a trip to Alabama!

Anonymous said...

Hilary, you're killing me. I can so relate. My mom passed on about 7 yrs ago at 84. She died of lung cancer but really I think it was just her time. The last 4-6 yrs of her life were tough on me but tougher on her. You see she never lost her mind, she was well aware that our rolls had reversed and she was not happy about it one little bit. Hang in there girl. This too shall pass. My fear is that I am headed to the path that my mother and her mother before walked. As my mom always said, "Getting old is a b-tch!".

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