Caring For Mom

A lovely lady died last week. Her name was Kitty and she was a mom, grandmother, and great grandmother.

I met Kitty through her daughter many, many years ago. It is this daughter and her family that triggered this subject on my blog today. It was the devotion of this family that garners my respect. They kept their mother in her home through difficult circumstances until her death last week.

Kitty always had a smile and a kind word for everyone. Her devotion to her family was undeniable. She leaves a legacy of two daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom were by her side at her last hours even though some had to travel a distance to be there.

When Kitty’s health began to fail her oldest daughter left her life to move in with her mother to take care of her. She was there 24/7, only taking a few days here and there to go back to her home. There is another silent hero in this and that is my friend’s partner of 30 some years who supported her actions. This wasn’t just for a few short weeks but for a few years. The entire family rallied around Kitty to keep her happy, comfortable and in her home even as some confusion set in. It was not an easy task but their love for their mother fueled the decision.

Today I would like to honor this family with my words of respect and awe in the way they handled this difficult time in their lives. They honored a woman who gave them life, and they gave her life with their time until God chose to take her home.

Having lived in a household where my mother took care of her ailing mother I know the sacrifices that are made. The same thing happened in my husband’s family when they took care of his elderly grandparents with dementia. There are nights of no sleep, patience stretched slim and household chores, plus heavy lifting when loved ones can no longer carry their own weight when moving even a few steps.

The hard but easy choice for this family might have been a nursing home. Many of us make that decision and it might be the right choice for our loved ones or for ourselves. Each of us knows our limits and what we can or cannot do. We shouldn’t let anyone tell us the choice we make is wrong. We know ourselves and our family the best. Kitty’s family felt home was what they wanted for her.

Today our culture has the benefits of utilizing places that care for our elderly. Our parents and grandparents are cared for with staff who know how to navigate the road of old age. My mother and mother-in-law lived in these care facilities. I did not have the stamina to bring them into my home full time. That is why I  admire families that make a commitment to those they love.

Before nursing homes and assisted living the young took care of the old. They took parents into their homes and blended them into their life. Growing up I didn’t give it a thought that we lived with my grandmother, or that my uncles lived with my other grandmother. I just thought it was the way it was. I had other relatives whose grandparents lived with them too.

We all have different journeys. We all make different choices that are right for us and those we love. It is your journey and you will know what is best for you.

There are many studies that prove the elderly love longer with strong family connections. In other cultures, it is not unusual for grandma and grandpa to live with their families. According to the Blue Zones by Dan Buettner, grandparents who look after their grandchildren have a lower risk of death. Mixing the young and old is healthy and this appeared to be true in Kitty’s case with her last smiles an indication that she felt loved with her family by her side.

Kitty you will be missed.

Mother’s Day Musings

Sunday is Mother’s Day. Advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts are peppering my social media feeds and filling up the inboxes of my email. I have a feeling of loss as I read the ads, as I am sure so many others do because our mothers are no longer with us.

It is another holiday celebrated, but which brings mixed feelings for many mothers and children out there. This year I will admit, holidays have been hard for me. Life is very different than I expected it would be. I do not know why we have this fairy tale idea of life, because in reality, life is messy. Relationships are messy, especially with families. It isn’t always a Hallmark moment. That is what makes Mother’s Day and families so special because they persevere together through the muck of life, held together by love, even though it isn’t always front and center but hidden, ready to come out at unexpected moments

In the 52 years, I had my mother,  I never missed a Mother’s Day with my mother. I might not always have been able to spend the entire day but I always made sure I visited her at some point in the day. I always made sure I gave her a gift whether it, large or small. It wasn’t a chore, it was something from the heart I wanted to do. We didn’t always have a great relationship and didn’t communicate things to each other in a positive way but the love never died.  I miss spending Mother’s Day with my mother.

I think my parents taught me Mother’s Day was a day to take the time to spend with the person who loved me and raised me. My dad, my mom and I always visited my dad’s mom on Mother’s Day. She only lived until I was six but that is one thing I remember. My mom’s mom lived with us, but my mom always made it a special day for her and my dad made sure we did that for my mom too. It was a celebration. It was a day for families to take time to be together.

It is 2019 and families are spread out far and wide. Many moms will spend the day alone because of various reasons. I will be one of those. Life is busy for families and getting together isn’t always an option. Some will be spending Mother’s Day alone because children and parents have been separated because of strife and disagreements. And so this holiday might be one of those that some want to pass over and not acknowledge it is happening.

I would give anything to spend another Mother’s Day with my mom and my mom-in-law, Dorothy. I am sure there are moms who have lost a child that would give anything to see them again on Mother’s Day.

It isn’t the presents, mothers want on this day, but the presence of their children in their lives, whether it be a phone call every week or a visit. The love of a mother never goes away.

I will visit my mother this Sunday at her grave. And then I might take myself to a movie and laugh a little. I will celebrate being a mother because I have three successful, healthy children. So if you are alone on this day, treat yourself. Take time to remember those who are no longer with us and then take the time to celebrate you because you deserve it.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom.



A Mother’s Hands

imageI have my mother’s hands. When I look at my hands today I see my mother’s hands. How did it happen? Where did the time go? My hands have aged into my mother’s aged hands that I remember.

My mother’s hands were not the hands of many women of her day or of today. In her older years her hands were gnarled with arthritis and bumpy from broken fingers and broken bones and wear earned during her years of hard work. My mother had a worker’s hands. She wasn’t afraid to use her hands to dig in her garden, help take care of the farm animals and scrub floors or do other tasks. She often wore gloves and she used lotion religiously, but still her hands were dry and cracked, and her skin as she got older thinned out and bruised easily. I remember looking at her hands and listening to her explanation that nothing she did to take care of them made a difference.

I don’t have worker hands or at least I don’t work as hard as my mother did at manual labor. I too use lotion and try and do the best I can to take care of my hands, but they are my mother’s hands. The skin has thinned with age and they bruise easily. My knuckles show the signs of aging and creaky bones. It doesn’t matter how much lotion I use, if I skip a day my hands become dry and bleed easily. When I look at my hands and see my mother’s hands, it brings me comfort and the blessing of memories.

I was an only child. My mother and I didn’t always see eye to eye. I didn’t understand her and she didn’t understand me. I didn’t always treat her the way she should have been treated but there is one thing we both knew through all our trials and that is our love bound us together through the good and bad.

Mother’s Day is this week, and I miss my mother on Mother’s Day. I don’t think I ever missed a Mother’s Day with my mother. I might not always have spent the entire day with her, but we did see each other on Mother’s Day. And even through my busy life and move, we talked every week — a couple times a week.

My mom didn’t really care about gifts. What she cherished the most was seeing and hearing from her grandchildren on her special days and during the week. To her those were her gifts.

As I ponder Mother’s Day in 2016 I want to offer a little advice for those younger whose busy lives lead them in other directions away from home. I have heard the words in conversations with others, “Oh, my kids are busy. They don’t have time to call. I understand that because they are busy with work and family. They have their life. It’s OK because I want them to be happy and they are so stressed I don’t want to add to it.”

Those words are words of love from a mother’s heart because that is what mothers do, they sacrifice for their children even after their children have left home. Mothers put aside their feelings because they love their family. Until you become a parent and reach older age you might not understand the love it takes for an older parent to put aside feelings on special days because they want their children to have it easier.

As a daughter I would give anything to be able to pick up the phone each week and talk to my mother. I would give anything to be able to ask her about her day and her week. I would give anything to be able to tell her I love her and I am sorry for all the times I didn’t take time to listen to her if only for a few minutes.

The best gift you can give your mother on Mother’s Day is the gift of a call and the promise you will take time to call regularly throughout the year. Ask her about her life and what she is doing. Show an interest in her day-to-day activities. Even in our older age we need someone to be interested in what we are doing. That’s all a mother wants is to be shown a little love and given a little time, even if it is a few minutes on the phone. The next time you think about telling your mom you haven’t called because you are too busy, remember that time waits for no one and there will come a day when you call, and she is no longer able to answer.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. I wish you the gift of feeling loved and cherished because you had and have the most important job in the world, that is raising up children in the way they should go.

As I look at my hands and remember my mother’s hands I still feel the love of a touch, the hands on my brow when I was sick, the feel of her hug and the squeeze of her hand giving me assurance. Happy Mother’s Day in heaven, Mom. I love you, and I love the heaven line to talk to you. It is never busy.