Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Foundations and Transitions

Mom is in the hospital with a urinary tract infection.  She had had an accident in her bed that morning and was very out of it.  My brother and sister-in-law came and got her and, along with my niece and nephew, took her to the hospital.  Mom was very confused and still doesn't understand why she is there.  She seems to think she was put in the hospital to take a shower (as my sister said, "That is one expensive shower!") and is quite annoyed that none of us will take her home.

Mom went into the hospital on Sunday, and actually my sisters and I felt it was kind of a blessing in disguise as I think it has spurred my brother to realize she should probably be moved to the assisted living facility as soon as possible.  We spent this evening filling out the paperwork to get Mom moved in, and I anticipate that by the end of the week she will be in her new place (and I'm sure she won't be the least bit thrilled about it, either).

I've been able to detach myself from the emotion of it and just deal with the practicalities for the most part.  The only time I was getting a little wistful was when my siblings were talking about which of Mom's pictures to move to the facility (because she has a lot of them and won't have room for all of them; that made me kind of sad).

I still wish we could afford to put Mom in the first facility we saw, but it is way out of our budget.  The place she'll be going to is fine, but it's not my favorite.  But I still feel good enough about it.

Saturday night (before we knew she had the infection) I was feeling down and anxious about Mom because of her particularly odd behavior (and it turns out that the infection may have exacerbated her dementia, although I still think it's best for her to be moved).

Suddenly, I received a phone call.

A voice started sing/speaking, "I just called to tell you I love you."

It was Jonah's mom.  She was actually trying to sing the Stevie Wonder song, "I Just Called to Say I Love You."  Mainly, she had called to invite over for lunch on Sunday and to attend a 25th anniversary party for their church.  But I was so touched that her first word were, essentially, "I love you."  That meant a lot coming from a woman who I neither knew or particularly liked just two years ago.

I've actually developed a good relationship with Jonah's parents.  I think they both like me and have basically treated me like a member of the family.  His mom and I were on the phone for a while talking about Mom, and I was very grateful for her words of support.  It was a nice and needed conversation.

Jonah's mom had invited Jonah and I over for lunch and to this 25th anniversary party.  Jonah couldn't go because he is volunteering as head of wardrobe for a local community theatre company.  I decided to go, however.  Much of the time I was on the phone talking to various family members about Mom and her condition and prognosis.  A selfish (or maybe not-so-selfish) thought went through my head that wished Mom's condition was serious enough to take her from us early.  I know that might sound awful, but the thought of having to watch her slowly waste away and live the rest of her life in assisted care is not one I relish.  But I have a feeling Mom is going to be with us for a while.

Jonah's parents and I had a really nice lunch.  I think I've mentioned that his mom is a terrific cook.  We had some time to kill before the celebration party, so I sat in a chair to read a book about America's independence called 1776.  I'm not that far into it, but it's pretty good thus far.

There was also a telenovela on TV that I got sucked into even though I couldn't fully understand what was being said.  I also zonked out for a few minutes.

Jonah's brother, mom, dad, and I went to the church.  We were pretty early so we sat there for a while.

I think I've mentioned that Jonah's family are Pentecostal.   I can appreciate the faith and love the members of this church have, but I could also tell that the Pentecostal faith and style doesn't quite gel with my own.  After the meeting, Jonah's mom said, "I bet we have a very different speaking style than Mormons do."  I said, "Oh, yeah.  You guys have a lot more fire than we do."  There's also a sort of impromptu style that Mormons don't have.  Mormonism seems very structured; there isn't much room for ad libbing or unscheduled interruptions.  The Pentecostal religion (at least this one) seems to encourage and celebrate off-the-cuff moments.  And that's cool.  I'm just not used to it.

I do like their music, though.  And, truthfully, Mormons could use more spirit in their celebration.  Sometimes LDS meeting feel more like...well, meetings than worship services.

The presentation was talking about the church's past, present, and future...how it went from being this small church to growing a large international church.  It was cool to hear about all the miracles that went into building this church, and it dawned on me that God probably doesn't really care what religion you do or don't belong to...He blesses any of his children who are anxiously engaged in a good cause...and even some who aren't.

One man talked about foundations of buildings - how important foundations are, but how nobody buys a house or building because of its foundation.  Nobody says, "That is an awesome foundation!  Let's get this house."  And yet, without the foundation, the house wouldn't be able to stand at all.

And I thought about the foundation my parents have created.  My siblings and I would not be who we are without the foundation my parents created for us.  And I thought about how much my mom has given me all my life and how much I am who I am is largely due to her.  Even if she is gradually slipping away from us mentally, she has left a legacy that will outlive her by far.

I miss who my mom was, but I have also found much joy in who she is.  I know watching her deteriorate the remaining years of her life will be challenging at times, but I celebrate who my mother was and is: a good woman who did her best to raise her children right and who was and is kind and loving.  There are days when she can be difficult or challenging to deal with, but the essence of her is still there.

I love my mom dearly, as you all know.  I wish I could be there more during these remaining years of her life.  But I am also grateful for the relationship I am building with my dear husband and with his family.

This is a time of transition.  All I have ever wanted is to love and protect my mom and keep her safe and healthy.  Moving her into this facility is what is best for her at this time...and, frankly, what is best for her family.  Just as she took care of us all our lives, now we are trying to take care of her the best we can.  No one ever wishes this for their parents and often children promise their parents they will never move them into a home.  But some promises can't be kept and sometimes an assisted living home is what is in the parent's (and the child's) best interest.  As my sister says, it's time to stop being Mom's caregivers and just be her children again.


LCannon said...

I love your analogy on our foundation. I love this post. I'm glad you have a good relationship with Jonah's parents.
Good for in-laws really. All four of mom's in-laws have rallied around her. It was Sunny and Roland who filled out the majority of paperwork. It was Sunny and Roland who went around the house marking pictures.
I'm not looking forward to this transition either. She already holds a grudge against me for the DL (LOL)

James said...

Just a suggestion for what to do with your mom's pictures. Have someone scan them and then upload them all to one of those digital picture frames that automatically scroll through each of the pictures sort of like a PowerPoint.

Sorry to hear about her illness, I know it must be hard to watch her deteriorate like this.

Dean Scott said...

This is one of your most beautiful posts even though there is sadness for what your mom (and you and your family) are experiencing. It is nice that the family is working together. My sibs, their spouses, and I grew closer because of our shared love and involvment with our mom's senior years. Best wishes, again.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Sis.

Yeah, we do have a great support system with the in-laws.

Gay LDS Actor said...

James, that is an absolutely beautiful idea and one I never thought of. I will definitely get on that.

Dean, thank you so much.