No room for wimps
By Lindsay Bergstrom
My mom has said to me many times through the years that “getting old is not for sissies.” And you know what? I’m really beginning to believe her.
Oh, it’s not just because my knees hurt after I’ve been sitting at my desk too long. And it’s not because that 20 minutes of exercise I used to do have now turned into 40 so I can get half the results. It’s not even the shock I sometimes feel when I look in a mirror.
Nope, it’s watching her.
Almost two years ago, we brought my mom to live with us. Until that time she had been living independently in a retirement facility. But rising costs and declining health caused us to have to reevaluate, and this seemed the best option since I have the luxury of working from home.
I think it’s been an adjustment for all of us, her learning to depend upon me for her care and us having someone else to think about all the time. But it’s not been without its lighter moments, too.
Like the time I thought it would be nice to take her with me while I ran errands, just so she could get out of the house.
When we left, I neglected to close the door to her room, and found when we returned that my Great Dane, Stella, had raided her candy dish. And as if that weren’t enough, Mom then looked at her side table and realized her packet of jewelry that she “for sure” left there was missing.
Well, you can imagine the angst we all felt as we turned her room, and our whole house, upside down looking for it.
When we didn’t find it, Mom was then convinced that Stella had eaten it. So dutifully for the next week I went out with Stella when she did her business and examined thoroughly to make sure the packet of jewelry hadn’t passed through.
It never did.
So Mom next became convinced that Stella had taken the packet of jewelry and hidden it. Never mind that Great Danes — even though beautiful creatures — are just not that smart. Stella doesn’t hide things. But for weeks, Mom asked me if I was still looking for her jewelry, and I secretly suspected that she had thrown it away by mistake.
Then one Sunday morning, when I went to see if she was ready to leave for church, I found her wearing the missing jewelry. And when I asked her where she had found it, she pointed to her table.
Well, I knew it hadn’t been there the whole time, and when I said so, she replied, “I guess the dog brought it back.”
My family and I still laugh about that, although I would be laughing with more enthusiasm if I hadn’t been the one poking through poop.
Or the many times she has turned to me in the grocery store to ask if I know what she meant by an item she wrote on her shopping list. And as the guessing game begins, we both get a chuckle when neither of us has a clue.
Thankfully now she has mostly gotten past the frustration of not being able to think of the correct word, or the fact that she has to depend on a walker to support her movement. For awhile she could focus on nothing else. And in her frustration she would say, I hope this never happens to you.
But now she says she’s just tired, and wonders why “the Lord doesn’t take her home.” At 85, the once statuesque postmaster is now hunched with osteoporosis and arthritis, and she has a hard time making her mind work like it used to. She’s aware of her diminishing faculties and, thankfully, is accepting them now with more grace.
But I have to tell you, the old girl still has a bit more fight left in her, too.
She gets up every morning and dresses for the day, complete with jewelry. She makes a lap or two around the house to keep her legs moving. She insists on going with me to the grocery store to buy her own things. She wants to fold her own clothes, and even sometimes helps me with mine. And every Sunday we make the trip to Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church where we both get our spirits energized to make another week.
It’s there that I am reminded of why it’s important to do this. Even though it’s hard to watch her decline, I am thankful to have the opportunity to walk with my mom through these days, good and bad, so I can experience the true grace that comes from learning to give and receive. Jesus taught us how important it is to learn both.
And so when my time comes, I hope I can remember what I learned from my Mom about giving and receiving. And not be a sissie about it. Read More