Mom's Aging Experience
Mom's world is slowing shutting down. She has macular degeneration and an on-coming dementia. I've been living with her for almost three years and I can see the subtle decline.
I came to be with her because she no longer had a driver's license and it was getting difficult for her to get rides to doctors, stores, church, banking, post office, etc. When I first came, she wanted to go everywhere with me to do all the errands.
She was still interested in going to church and she was still able to take walks around the neighborhood. She could write checks, read the newspaper, and keep track of her appointments.
Now, she can no longer do any of that. Sometimes carrying on a simple conversation is next to impossible. I feel sad because talking is almost the last thing we can really do together. And now that is slipping away too.
Recently we were talking, and I was repeating the same thing over and over. She would ask a question, I would answer it and seconds later she would ask it again. When I asked her if she understood or even heard what I was saying, she told me that sometimes things I say just fly right past her. She made this little butterfly motion with her hand in front of her face. And suddenly that put it all in perspective.
I could visualize the words coming at her, and she hears the sounds, but she can't quite put meaning to the words and she literally sees them go past her in the air, not stopping to settle in her brain.
Her vision is closing out the physical world and her brain is closing out the mental world, and I can only stand by and watch it happen.
I came into this situation three years ago, angry, frustrated, and resentful. In watching her struggle in her decline, I have come to grow in compassion, understanding, gratitude, love, and acceptance. I realize that, for the first time in my life, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be and why I am here doing what I'm doing.
We all experience the beginning of life when babies are born. We watch them grow through all the familiar stages. But really being present for the end stage of life is a gift not to be missed. If I want to truly experience all the lessons life has to offer, I will embrace this time as an opportunity to grow spiritually and I will listen and learn from it.