Going Downhill—I Wish I Meant Skiing.
The downhill slide reminds me of skiing, except there’s no cold air on your face, snowflakes flying by, the exhilarating speed, or soft snow when you fall. Instead it’s watching mom get weaker daily and my aching back.
Mom looked forward to Thanksgiving, knowing all the kids were coming. We alternate years with our daughter-in-law’s family. This year is our house for Thanksgiving, their’s for Christmas. With Thanksgiving over, the air went out of Mom’s balloon. This week she can’t stand or walk. It’s like she has given up. I had to order a hospital bed today.
Moving In, Moving Out
The bed will come tomorrow so I’m scurrying about rearranging furniture. This means moving lots of “stuff” out of Mom and Dad’s room. My dad is not on-board with this plan. He’s the dog you take walking, who sits on his hindquarters refusing to move. You pull the leash but his feet and backside stay planted. You’re forced to drag him or carry him because he won’t walk. You’ve probably never had a dog like that, but I have.
Dad’s already upset because we moved a chest from the foot of their bed. This chest has been empty for six years, since I gave away the double-bed sheets they brought from their old house. There hasn’t been a double bed in this house since we moved in, nearly nine years ago, but God forbid we get rid of anything! We might need it. The sole use for that chest is a repository for old newspapers and magazines–on top, not in the chest. Wait until he finds out I’m moving his TV! Not to mention getting rid of all the VHS tapes and DVD’s they’ve never watched.
Fallout and Failed Landings
I’m bracing myself for the flack headed my way. It will be OK because I’m already stooped over from a sore back. It will fly over my head. When I got mom up two nights ago in the dark hours of the night we had problems. Transferring her from the wheelchair to her bed, she grabbed the wheelchair arms with both hands and would not let go. I was holding her and the wheelchair suspended in space, saying “let go of the chair now” to no avail. I finally heaved her and the chair up on the bed. It was either that, or drop them both. Once in bed, I disentangled parent from wheelchair, but my right shoulder and back are still protesting. She has no idea why she wouldn’t let go. Being confused, she thought she was falling. No amount of, “I’ve got you, you’re safe” penetrated that fog of confusion.
I told Mom, moving her now felt a bit like caber tossing in the Highland Games. She asked, “What’s that?” I explained grown men in Scotland, tossing tree-length poles for sport. Her reply, “Well, the Scottish are dumb to do that.” Spoken like the true McFadden, Scotch-Irish she is, with a hint of her old sense of humor.
I forget our home isn’t set up like a hospital. You can’t call a colleague for help. We don’t have all the equipment available for moving those too weak to move themselves. Doggone it, we don’t have daily laundry services and housekeeping either. I never appreciated those folks enough.
Moving Forward, With a Glance Backward
Well, I must keep moving. My husband is busy trying to find mounting hardware to put the TV on the wall. I still need to get XL twin sheets for the hospital bed. Too bad that old chest didn’t have twin sheets.
The last time I bought XL twin sheets were for our sons’ dorm rooms–and I thought those days were hard. Little did I know. They were hard, but in a different way. It’s hard to watch your “babies” leave the nest, but you’re proud of them. You’re excited about the possibilities awaiting them. It’s bittersweet. Watching your parents waste away is bitter and sad. There’s not much sweet about it, at least from a human perspective. Thankfully, our hope is in an eternal perspective.
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
It’s that thought of transformation, making broken, hurting, bodies into glorious eternal bodies that gives us strength to endure this time. The thought of my mom living without pain, tears or sorrow reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s poem about hope.
Have a good caregiving day and a hopeful journey,