Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So why is it?

During Christmas vacation we spent two days at my Mama and Daddy's house. On the way home, I related to hunky hubby that I was worried about my Mom.

"What do you mean? She seemed fine to me other than working too hard for a 79 year old woman."

It's true. She is my Grandmother's (who is 104.5) caregiver, bill payer, chauffeur, property manager, secretary, battering ram - y'know. She's everything. My Grandmother (who is 104.5) does not think of her daughter as a 79 year old woman, or if she does, my guess is that from her perspective that's a spring chicken. She has that syndrome that our seniors get sometimes; the one that is seated firmly in entitlement due to age, wisdom, experience, and maybe most of all, weariness. It's someone else's turn to do for them. Know that one?

So my Mama, who really should be the recipient of some caregiving of her own, "works" full time. Now, Mary Ellen wouldn't have it any other way. She's doing what she feels she's supposed to be doing with her life and for her family. But it takes its toll.

During our visit, Mama pulled out sausage balls and announced that we should warm them and put them on the table to snack on. But. She pulled them out of the pantry. . . NOT the refrigerator.

"Mama," I said. "Do those have meat in them?"

"Yes baby. They're sausage balls."

"Mama," I said. "How long have they been in that pantry?"

"Since yesterday when I made them."

Still nothing. I needed a stronger prompt, I guessed. Or maybe just an all-out, blatant one.

"Mom. Shouldn't they have been stored in the fridge?"

"Oh. I guess. I didn't think about that. Here. Put them on the table."


I changed tactics. I simply whispered a warning to each of my other family members to stay away from the sausage balls.

After dinner: "Wellll, nobody ate the sausage balls! Weren't they good?"

Now you understand why I'm worried?

The next morning, my Mama called me from Grandmother's. (She rises at 5:00 every morning and goes next door to her Mom's house, feeds her breakfast, helps her get her bath, and then begins the general housekeeping and chores.) "Honey I got waffles for the kids for breakfast, and there's bacon ready to be panfried, too."

"Ok Mama, I'll take care of it."

The frozen waffles were nowhere to be found - that is, if you were looking in the freezer. Guess where they were. No really, guess.

Right. The pantry.

Guess what WAS in the freezer though?! The bacon. Ready to be cooked? Don't think so. Ready to be thawed maybe.

During our visit there were a few other similar incidents. None of them were dangerous - well, unless you consider eating day old meat that hasn't been refrigerated dangerous. But you know what I mean. She wasn't driving down the wrong side of the road or anything. Not that she hasn't before in her life, but that was thirty four years ago when she was just ditzy.

So, my hunky husband reminds me, she's always been ditzy. Why is it you're worried now?

I don't know, but I am. Her responses are different than the lifelong ditziness we're accustomed to - they have a different tenor, a different underlying ummm - I don't know what.

So, my hunky husband reminds me, she's almost 80. Peoples' 'tenor' change with age.

Mind you, he's not trying to minimize my worry. Well, he is, but for altruistic reasons, not dismissive ones. He's trying to rationalize, to make me feel better, to help me put into perspective something I can't get ok with yet.

Only now, two days later, in the middle of the night, have I recognized why I'm worried now. She's my Mama and she's 79. Yes, genetically she may very well have a good shot at living another twenty five years, but I guess I am facing the thought, the very real idea, that sometime in the future, the relationship my Mama and I have will change. For good.

There aren't many things I'm afraid of. Really there aren't. Losing my Mama however, is high up on that short list. It's a totally selfish fear, for she knows where she's passing to when she passes, and she isn't afraid. She has a deep faith and a strong and committed Christian heart.

So why is it I'm worried? She does ditzy things and I worry she's displaying signs of dementia instead of the regular ditziness that's been a part of her personality always. It weakens my argument that I can't describe why I'm worried or give objective examples or reasons why I think recent occurrences are more serious or forboding than the ones we've always laughed about, shaken our head and sucked our teeth and looked at each other with glances that say, "Ohhhhh, that's just Mama."

My greatest hope is that I'm wrong. I haven't given thought to what life will be like without my Mama, and I don't want to give thought to such a thing. Maybe I won't have to for a couple of decades.

1 comment:

Allie and Pattie said...

Oh boy. You have just given voice to what we're going through with my Dad- and it terrifies me because my Mom is in complete denial. I worry every time he gets behind the wheel that this will be the time he finds himself " in the pantry". It's so hard to navigate these changes