I watch her go downhill. Her memory seems to fade more every day. She constantly asks the same questions and she mixes up her information. For instance, she’ll take part of something my brother says and uses it with what someone else has said and not get any of it correct. I’m afraid she is going to offend friends… she has, but being friends, they forgive her.
She can’t remember when and if she takes her pills, but when I try to help, she is so picky about how it needs to be done. She refuses what I suggest.
She tries to hold onto control by trying to dictate my actions. She questions my movements, my spending, and where I go. She never tells me to “have fun” and she always makes a snide remark as I am going out the door which darkens my mood. Throughout my day, I worry and hope that she’s okay alone. If I go off with the same person often, she no longer likes that friend anymore. She doesn’t like anyone who takes up my time… or takes my time away from her.
Her first words in the morning are always about some ailment or other or why she couldn’t sleep. I swear she is looking to find something wrong. I can always tell when she is not feeling well because she gets nit-picky and finds fault with everything and everyone.
As long as I am doing something of which she approves, then she is okay. She likes my photography and charcoal drawings. She’s very critical of my writing and although she never cared for my poetry, she is proud of the book I published.
I easily lose patience.
Then I feel guilty.
My current “easy” lifestyle is all due to her and my aunt. Yep, the strings are attached, and in her decline, she ties them tighter. I chose this life; however, even in the choosing, reality can be a bitter pill.
I consider my role. I DID say that I would care for her… I didn’t say that I’d give up my life for her. Somehow, somewhere she turned into the strict family matriarch who tries to run the lives of everyone in her realm. (Personally, I think she reads too many of those romance novels.) When friends come over, she sits back and enjoys everyone waiting on her.
There’s a part of me that understands. How scary it must be to not remember every day things. She has always feared sickness and now that her body and mind are failing, she clings to whatever she can. She has given up all hobbies and has lost interest in things she used to love. Her favorite word is “can’t.”
What makes me the most---frustrated--- is that she is NOT that bad off. There’s no reason why she cannot do some of the things she used to. Sure, she cannot do them with the same ease, but she could still be active. She could be busy and not be lying around all day thinking about what could be wrong.
She says that I don’t have to baby sit her, but the moment I go off to do anything, she goes to bed. She says she reads, though whenever I look in, she’s lying back with her eyes closed or just staring into space. She loves her bed.
The only thing that she likes to do is to talk. Unfortunately, not watching tv, reading newspapers, or listening to the radio, conversation is repetitive and when she runs out of things to say, she starts finding fault.
It’s sad. I don’t want to be negative and I don’t want to find fault. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. Part of this is very interesting and I wonder if I will be like her someday. Oh, I surely hope not! I think about her sister in the nursing home and the similarities. My aunt, after an active military career and subsequent civilian time, gave up and now I see my mother also giving up.
Is this part of what happens as one gets older? Maybe so… maybe the life energy just runs out. The mind and the body get tired. I wonder, in the teaching of Tai Chi and working with life energy, will my aging be different? Will there come a point in my life when I will give up? Will I become a cranky old lady who doesn’t remember how to be happy?
Naah, I don’t think so. Even when I do reach that time, my plan is to do so gracefully and peacefully. I will make a conscious choice to live life with as much joy as I can and even at times when I may seem negative there is that place in my mind that sees these situations as interesting. It’s all in what makes us tick, I guess.