aging, broken hearts, parenting your parents, Enlighten Me, Hard to Label, parenting

Smile though your heart is breaking…

My sister and I have spent the last week thinking that my mother was going to transition to the next life. Right now, it looks like she’s going to stick around for a little bit though we don’t really know how long.

I’ve had some issues with my mom in the past because we both thought we were in charge of MY life. Then we worked those out; I learned to listen and quietly do what I wanted to take care of my own needs and wants. And now we have occasional issues again and I realized that it’s because we both think we are in charge of HER life.

Funny…not in a haha sort of way because neither of us is in charge right now. Byron Katie says there are three types of business: your business, God’s business, my business. Clearly, my mom’s health is God’s business.

My mom worked as a banquet waitress until she was 82 years old.  Her mind was sharp and clear, but now she thinks it’s still clear and everyone else is confused…that the hospital stole her home, moved it, and reproduced all her furniture, pictures, and possessions in an attempt to fool her into believing that she was living at home.

She sometimes thinks she’s in her childhood home in West Virginia with a big Blue Ridge foothill in the backyard that housed wild cats and black bears and copperhead snakes. These things were true once upon a time, but not now.

She sometimes thinks my father sold their home to pay off some kind of debt to some nefarious individual and she sometimes thinks that my sister and I are plotting against her.

She spent days in the hospital promising to go home and bake raisin-filled cookies.

She told one of the nursing home residents that at the last hotel she was at they had put a bomb under her bed.

I think at one time in my life, when I was four or five and still believed in magic, in Santa, in ghosts and goblins, she dealt with my delusions and now we’re dealing with hers.

It’s fair, I suppose.

What isn’t fair is that my parents tried to maintain solid finances and a nice home so they could pass something on to us and they probably won’t be able to keep those things because getting old is very, very expensive.

My father blames the Republicans for that but I heard a report on NPR about a month ago that causes me to believe it’s a worldwide issue. In Japan, the report said, the prisons are becoming overcrowded with the elderly who can no longer afford to live at home or in a nursing home. One man in his late 70’s tried to get arrested for stealing bicycles but couldn’t get more than a lecture so he took a kitchen knife to a nearby park and threatened young women. He said he had to threaten quite a few with the knife, and beg a few more before one of the women finally called the police.

It’s a sad business, but if you’re smiling right now imagining a small-framed Japanese septuagenarian with a butter knife begging women in the park to be frightened and call the police, know that I am also.

If we don’t continue to smile, our smile muscles will atrophy.

If we don’t continue to find the humanity, our empathy muscles will disintegrate.

If we don’t continue to see the humor, we will totally lose our way.

 

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