Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

U - Unaware

U is for Unaware

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

When my mom mentally began to fail in her late 70s, I was unaware of what was ahead.  I was unaware of exactly how much energy if would take of me to be her caregiver.  I was unaware that I would have to break promises I made to her regarding nursing home care.  I was unaware that as her brain failed her, I would find myself at times short of patience.  I was unaware of the total sacrifice of my personal health and emotional well-being I would have to make to care for her until her last breath.

I was unaware of so much.

What I did know was that I could not turn away, put her care in the hands of someone else at the first sign of problems ... not until I tried, until I had no choice.

Mom lived with me for 5 years and then 3 years in Assisted Living and Nursing Home Care.  At our first family meeting with the facility's disciplines of Nursing, Social Service and Life Enrichment, I marveled on how giving, caring, patient and engaging the staff was with my mom.  There was never a harsh or impatient word with her or any of the residents (and I visit a lot and watched a lot.)   I commented that I understood very intimately how hard this elder care was - because I had walked in their shoes for 5 long years.  I will never forget the Social Worker's response to my observation ... "Well, of course, we can do this well.  There are many of us and we work 8 hour shifts.  There was only one of you, and you worked 24/7."  I struggled to keep from tearing up in front of this stranger.  She was aware of the price I paid every single day - she knew very well the sacrifice that was needed.  For the first time in 5 years I felt understood.  Until that moment, rightly or wrongly, I felt I was surrounded by people who were unaware of what I gave of myself for my mom.

I believe that all caregivers who take on this vocation are unaware at some level and underestimate the personal expense it will demand.  It was an isolating life, and it is truly a 'marathon' with no finish line.

It has been 12 years since I moved mom into my home.  When I think of that decision and how unaware I was of the effort I was taking on - I look back and think ... would I do it again?

The answer is - yes!
The other "choice" I could not live with.
I have no regrets.

Would I want my children to take on this effort - on my behalf?
No.  Never.  And I have already told them so.
I know the cost.
Mothers protect their children.
They are unaware.



Michelle said...

Bless you, Elaine, for caring for your mother and for freeing your children from the same.

Marie Smith said...

I don’t know that I could have done what you did in looking after your mother for so long, Elaine. You took on a lot but without regret. Priceless.

Wendy said...

I have told my children the same thing. It probably helped that my Mother was not "unaware" as she had cared for her mother and told me not to do the same for her. It was still difficult though.

John's Island said...

Hello, Your reflections on senior care are excellent. I don't think people can appreciate what's involved here until they are faced with it in their own lives. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thank you for recently stopping by my blog and leaving me a comment.

Seeking Serenity said...

you know it. I also cared for both my parents alone- at the same time in separate residents. suffered so so greatly.. then my mom got so that I couldnt leave to care for dad & he ended up going to the hospital & losing his bed and ending up in a terrible home. I had multiple mental breaks, pushed ahead-but I have never recovered.
I dont have any children so i am sure i will be a ward of the state one day