This is the last entry in a continuing series called
Through My Caregiver Eyes.
The full story of 8 years as my mother's caregiver
can be found under the label "Through My Caregiver Eyes."
(Label Section to the right of my blog posts.)
My mom was 88 years old at her death.
The rocky path from independence to living with me, then assisted living
and finally nursing home care is documented in this series.
While our journey together is peppered with joy-filled moments,
it tells of many losses for her and sadness for me.
For anyone who is a first line caregiver of a loved one,
you may see yourself in my story.
A last letter to my mom.
How I miss your sweet smile.
Every day I think about you and wonder how you are doing. Every day I think it is time for a visit with you and then remind myself, you are no longer on this earth.
My time at your side began 8 years ago when you moved into my home. Neither of us fully understood how difficult this last journey would be. Thankfully we didn't dwell on what could happen. Life is a process and we just kept moving forward through it.
You were there during my growing years when living in a dysfunctional family was very hard - and I was there during your declining years when increasing age took so much away from your joy of living. There is no one I have shared more of life's struggles with than you. Through it all you showed how to keep moving forward through the hard stuff while still enjoying the simple pleasures. I feel so much in your debt.
I am changed by this whole experience. How remarkable is it that my personal plans and desires could be so dramatically altered by taking this journey with you. Nothing I could have imagined for myself would have equaled the the importance of what I learned at your side. The real diamonds of life are time with family and giving of yourself when it would be easier to walk away. I wasn't born knowing that stuff - learned it from caring for you.
Oh, the last 8 years were not without our personal disagreements. Those bumps in the road were rocky at times. But it never derailed you and me. I lived the last 8 years knowing this day would come when you would be gone. I worried that I would look back and wonder ... could I have done more or something different. My motto became - Have no regrets! I have looked back. There was nothing left undone or unsaid between us. I loved you, mom, without reservation or conditions. I accepted your strengths and weaknesses and learned from them. I met every challenge and pushed every boundary on your behalf. No regrets. I am now at peace.
I know you would be happy to know I am fine today. Sometimes missing you suddenly catches me unawares and the tears begin to fall, but that is normal. You have moved on and so must I.
Thus we part company in this life.
You are loved, mom. You still hold a place in my heart that no one will ever dislodge. You were there when I took my first breath at birth and I was there for your last breath in death. I hope when I take my last breath, you will be there with that sweet smile to help me find my way.
Love you always,