Have you ever been so hot, you just sit and sweat? So hot you just want to sit in front of a fan and do nothing? Well, that’s been me over the last week. My preference is to never live in a really hot climate permanently. Florida is somewhat pleasant from October to April—and then it gets hot. August is unbearable.
Yes, I'm now in Florida, and have been since 17th January. I came over to give my sister some respite from caring for my Mom.
Last October Mom became ill—to the point my sister thought Mom was on the edge of dying. Mom contracted an infection that began as a urinary tract infection and escalated into an infection in the blood. Mom was in hospital for several days. When she became to improve, it was evident that Mom was now affected by dementia. She told me over that phone that Mom’s memory had been affected, and her personality had been significantly affected. After a few weeks in a rehab facility, Sissy brought Mom home.
Mom requires much more care—from a mental as well as physical aspect. Mom tends to get confused, has memory losses and can get un-cooperative when she is in pain. We have to monitor her pain level, as well as track her blood pressure and blood sugar. Mom can manage to ambulate very short distances on her own—but she is in a high-risk fall category. We try to make sure we are always with her when she wants to walk; most of the time, though, we set her on her walker (which has a seat) and roll her to the toilet or lounge/living room. Lately, she’s been known to totter from the bedroom to the bathroom by herself—like when I’m taking a nap. When we have to take her out for appointments, we use a wheel chair.
Getting Mom to eat is another major challenge. Some days she eats really well. Other days we have to depend of supplement drinks to get any nourishment into her. To complicate things even more, many of the foods she used to like she no longer likes. This is not uncommon in older folk.
I knew coming over that this would be a very challenging time, with many adjustments required on my part. I’ve had nights of prayers and tears, reaching out to God with all my heart to accept the changes in this woman.
There have been a couple of times when her thinking has been very clear and I could ask her about cooking questions, people from her past and places she remembers. Other days I have to answer the same simple questions over and over.
Some days I have had to struggle through with only three-or-four hours of sleep because Mom has had a bad night. My patience is gone, my fuse short and I don’t exercise kindness, tenderness. I am moved to frustrated tears and my sister has comforted me.
This trip has made me think a lot about my own life and when I am old. When I see Mom, “Why” echoes through my mind—and I know that the answer is the God sees the bigger picture, knowing the end as well as the beginning are well within His view and His hands. In His grand scheme of things, He has reasons for allowing us to go through the circumstances.
I love this woman I am serving now. But she is not “My Mom-Mom”, the woman who gave birth to me, the Mommy of my youth and “Mom-Best Friend” through my days of singleness. She isn’t the Mom I knew even a year ago this time. However, this “Sweetheart” is now a woman who deserves my attention, devotion and diligent care. It makes me realise that we are born needing care and we age into needing care.
This trip has deepened my love, concern, respect and appreciation of my sister and all she has done for my Mom. She has carried this load for over nine-years with only three times of respite relief from me. I believe she had done an excellent job and wonder how she does it, since her support system is almost non-existent.
Besides the times of frustration and resentment (at the situation), there have been moments of laughter. There have been moments of fun. There have been moments of tenderness, the kind that creates memories I will cherish forever.
My three-month stay ends 17th April. I will be glad to return home to a cooler
climate, my own bed and my dear, sweet and supportive husband. In the meantime, I’m going to keep in front of the fan as much as possible.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,