My mom and I had been through a lot together in the years leading up to her stroke. I was her fierce advocate in the healthcare jungle, her memory when she needed it, her caregiver, and her daughter. The day after her stroke, I sat down close to her bed, and asked her the hard question: Did she want to fight, or was it time to let go? I told her that either way, I would be right next to her the entire time. She thought, and decided she wanted to fight. OK, I said, and sprang into action.
Meeting with doctors, nurses, OTs, PTs, and STs – my sister and brother holding me up so I could keep going – I rallied the troops and we tried. Actually, she tried. With grace and humor, she tried to swallow, she tried to sit up, she talked, she worked with tenacity and fervor. She charmed everyone who came in contact with her – with a joke, a kind word, or a simple thank you.
It’s hard getting old. Hard to retain your dignity as you lose your independence. Hard to remain in control of yourself as incontinence sets in. Hard to hold your head up as your body deserts you. Hard to let caregivers diaper you, wash you, and clean up your messes when you become paralyzed. I don’t know how my mom did it, but I swear to you, she did – with unflagging dignity and grace. Maybe we were blessed, because she had such loving women caring for her, swaddling her as she had once swaddled us. Speaking softly and kindly to her when she was afraid and alone – after we had left for the night.
My mom was remarkably courageous in adversity, facing it head-on and putting the best spin on a truly untenable twist of fate.
Thanks for joining me on this journey of recollection. More to come tomorrow.