These days I drive up each afternoon to my parents’ home to help put my mom to bed. It’s more than that, though–we talk and we laugh at old jokes and memories, and I rub her feet while we talk.
It becomes harder for her to remember each day that I am coming over; I call her from the road and she is so surprised and happy that I am going to be there.
She has limited time on this earth, and the metastatic breast cancer that is slowly taking her life makes her mobility and pain a little worse each day. Some days toward nightfall she is a bit confused. Hers is a gentle form of sundowning, and we all roll along with it. We tell her that everyone forgets things from time to time, and that it’s all right.
Often she cries a little, and we get through that, too. During the days, she loves visitors and phone calls, and most days are good days. Her appetite is excellent, and she enjoys the lovely and thoughtfully-prepared meals that dear friends bring over for her and my dad. I myself have made more soup than I ever have before in my life. Much of our produce from our garden; fresh, crisp broccoli, jewel-like cherry tomatoes, larger peach-yellow tomatoes and zucchini, and soon (hopefully) some of our late-plants peas–ends up in their refrigerator.
My dad will be 91 this Saturday; seven years older than my mom. He wants to be there for her and care for her, as do I. Although we both know that the cancer will take her in the end, that end is not yet here. So while she is with us, we cherish all those minutes and hours and days. My dad and I are closer now than ever, if that’s possible; another gift of this time.
We do not fear death; my mom and dad and me. We know that it is simply a gentle call back home where we all will be someday. I have been told that people in my situation have “anticipatory grieving.” While I would rather just enjoy what time Mom has left with us, I still find myself flooded in tears imagining that last day.
I ask myself if I have done enough, am I doing enough now, have I told her often enough how much I love her, have I made her know that, because of her, I can stand alone in this life with confidence? Does she understand that it was she who showed me all that a person can be? Can you ever say “I love you” enough? I don’t know the answer to that, but I say it over and over and over again.
It all comes down to this–my being there for my mom is my entire focus. The time is soon coming when I know I will be staying there for days and nights on end; that’s all right. Bless the Crankee Yankee who, when his mother was dying at home, wouldn’t leave her side for a minute. He has lived through the sorrow of losing a mother; he knows that simply being there trumps everything.
So–here we are, my mom and dad and I, sharing one more life experience together. We have shared so much else together, all through the years, and this time is good time.