Caring For Mom
Always Caring For Mom
CARING FOR MOM
Now that I am over fifty I can really look at things through my Mother’s eyes. Today we took her some beautiful flowers. My Mom always loved fresh flowers she will always be alive in my heart. There are times that I miss her dearly; but I have peace knowing that she is resting and happily present with the Lord. I can look back and be thankful of all the time I spent with her.
In her later years my Mom gradually began to say what I now call a "slow goodbye".
My Mother was a very loving, strong willed woman. She was dedicated to the Lord! I was her only daughter among my many brothers. I will always remember how she reminded me that she prayed that the Lord would give her a daughter. She named me after Deborah the only woman judge in the Bible. It was actually just abreast of her fourth decade in life that I was born.
I believe that by this time she had a pretty good handle on being a parent since I was her ninth child and as I said before her first and only daughter. My parents also had ten sons!
My handsome Father worked diligently many hours away from home providing for our family. First for the San Francisco Municipal Railways as a Street Car Driver then Night Supervisor. Then he became one of the first bi-racial men of color to manage and own a Richfield Atlantic Service Station. He was organized, skillful and liked everything in place. He was raised by a Methodist Woman Minister of God. My father was always kind to me. One thing he was firm on I was not to ever pump gas. Or spend much time at the Service Station unless I was in the office. Back then there were only male uniformed attendants to service your automobile. Whenever you purchased gas they checked your oil/ water and washed your windows. My how times have changed. He also enjoyed fishing and going out on the lake in his boat.
My Mother adorned me with all the girly trimmings for as long as I can remember. Frilly Priscilla curtains festooned my bedroom windows and a big tall white wrought iron bed. I think I wore pink linen and organza dresses with embroidered flowers with matching bloomers and pink satin ribbons to adorn my hair seems like forever for special occasions. Along with Gloves. Let’s not forget to mention how I had to stay up while she pinned curled my hair with bobby pins on Saturdays for curls on Sunday. This was almost until I was thirteen years old. I eventually was able to turn in my white ruffled dress socks for cinnamon colored stockings and patent leather french heeled pumps.
My Mother was born in the early 1900’s and that was the thing to do way back then for a girl child. Especially since, as God's child and her only daughter I should always look my best! Not to impress but because it was important that I was raised to be a lady among many brothers. I was especially elated that she spent many hours laboring at her much lavished Singer Sewing machine fabricating me a plethora of uniquely designed everyday dresses. When school started there was one for each day of the week. I can remember her up and about praying & sewing more nights than I remember her sleeping and resting making more dresses all throughout the year. I received my first pair of genuine cultured pearls at (8) eight years old. I remember going shopping for a double breasted wool & camel hair coat and accessories for each winter. She even had a particular shoe salesperson that would fit my narrow feet for oxfords and patent leather dress shoes at Sommer & Kaufman. It was not so much the clothes but the care, concern & love. I am thankful for the parents the Lord gave me.
All of my life I have been a part of God's Church. I confessed Christ right before i turned (5) five, continually growing in His Grace... I cannot remember not knowing GOD. I realize as long as He has me on this side of Heaven there is always room for more spiritual growth. I was regularly a delegate to the Annual State Church Conferences. Sunday School, Choir, Usher board and Christian Youth Fellowship. Taught Vacation Bible School and even taught her Sunday School class from time to time. I received my 1st certificate for religious studies when I was thirteen years old. I was a part of the academic Gifted and Talented Program throughout school. I am comfortable in the background or the forefront. Took photography and Classical Piano. I now realize the many sacrifices my Mother made for me and the love my parents had for me... My mother instilled perseverance within me and an ever increasing LOVE for the LORD. I was taught it was more important what GOD knows about us rather than what others think? This was my legacy. Coming from humble endearing beginnings makes you really appreciate the preciousness of time.
Time in fact is really a precious priceless gift.
Years later on another occasion I can remember the day my husband asked her if he could marry me. He will tell you while dating that me, him and a brother went to the movies. And a brother often accompanied me to the High School Football games. Since we were so young I was a bit queasy as to how she would respond. He had graduated early from high school at sixteen. He would assure her we both would certainly continue on to college when he spoke to her... So I had chosen not to be present. My Mother was in her late 20’s when she married my father. Here I was a mere 17. I could only wonder what she would say. She had planned that I go on a college tour and………. But whatever my then, husband to be said to her, he surely won her over. It was at that time that they bonded. He became another son to her. We married the following year after a year of engagement. I had an elegant hand intricately long embroidered wedding dress from Joseph Magnin and she personally fabricated and hand crafted me a Vogue sheer long sleeved floor length satin heavenly aqua colored gown with delicately trimmed rhinestones and sequins for our reception.
To our delight we had a beautiful bubbly smiling little girl first! She was so elated! When our very own daughter was born she too adorned and lovingly fabricated her with the same delicately made pink and pastel colored embroidered dresses. Each time my children were born (we had four more sons) she came to our home for an extended visit. We spent many nights just enjoying the company of one another. I always appreciated the way she enjoyed, respected and loved our children and my husband. They loved and respected her. She was so proud that my husband loved the Lord and was a great father. He became a 1st generation upper level Executive Corporate Technology Manager, when he was but (21) twenty one... She was thankful that we both worked together in our Business and Ministry as well as raising our children...
I knew somewhat, but it was not really until her “Home going" celebration that I realized just how special her relationship was with my husband. My husband paid a tribute to her by playing one of her favorite hymns. His Eye Is On The Sparrow! (She had always reminded me that the Lord was watching over me...) It was at that moment he shared with the many guests that were present, that in over thirty+ years there had never been a cross word between the two of them. I don’t know many son-in–laws that can say that! Especially since my husband is also a very strong willed Man of God. These are just a few of the many precious memories that I cherish to this day. There are so many many more. My Mother taught me to be tender yet strong.
Little did I know until much later on in life how those memories would get me through the changes, challenges and transitions that her life encountered. Age has a way of creeping up on you. It gradually robbed her of all her much adored independence, gifts, talents and strength that she profusely exuded. My Mom was always a strong figure in my life. I always felt as a child that she was stern. She raised me to be strong, autonomous, cautious and responsible. This of course is understandable since I was her one and only daughter. No doubt she was protective. She was a very intelligent an educated woman. She was well respected by her academic colleagues. It was when I was in Jr. High that she entered into teaching. She wore many hats as a wife, Mother, teacher and actively took on many roles and a list of responsibilities at her place of worship. She was favored and known in the community. She was A Stewardess, adviser and confidant to many pastors and people of all ages. Let’s not forget her excellence as a seamstress, gourmet cooking skills and passion for gardening!
Age can creep upon you!
I said all of this to give you a poignant illustration of what was. … I can remember her telling me how she was beginning to feel strange in this body of hers. That that person looking back at her in the mirror was beginning to be quite interesting. How her body just would not do the simple tasks as she wanted. After she retired and well into my adult years she continued to sew, cook and garden. But slowly and surely her strong physical stature begins to slightly so ever slightly bow. I would drive up and spend the day with her often. I can remember her equilibrium suddenly changing and her many falls. Osteoporosis gradually began to take its toll on her ever shrinking frame. Her once tall and grand stance resembling a bit shorter humbled bowing position. The bruises on her arms and head from her abrupt falls... But thank God no fractures or broken bones! She would jokingly say her hard head now came in handy. But she remained determined.
I can remember her trying to open the garage door, and it abruptly falling on her. I asked her “What were you thinking of? You don’t even drive!" Here our roles begin to reverse. My Mom loved to write and journal her daily thoughts and dissipating activities. Her journals and her Elementary Primers are my most treasured remnants. It was in her journals I have her recorded memories of her much expressed LOVE for me, her long gone sister, brothers and parents. Who all went on before her, of her many friends and acquaintances, my brothers and especially her loving relationship with me, my husband and our children.
My Mom as I said was articulate and had no problem expressing herself. in anyway. She was a strong woman of color. Beautiful from the inside out. She could even discuss the sports statistics, baseball & football with my husband; as well as profoundly discuss and exegete & conversant excellently upon God’s Word or any current or past News topic. Her home lovingly cluttered with memorabilia and a wealthy library of books along with an assortment of various live nursery foliage inside and out. As time began to take its toll she asked me in a very cognizant moment to promise to allow her to stay in her own home until the Lord called her home. She did not want to loose that part of her independence. Her home was a place for any and all to come to and enjoy her excellent cooking and company.
I lived an hour away so she would come for weeks and stay and visit with my family. But no matter how much she enjoyed herself “there was no place like home." Her door way always open to all. My mother never learned to drive therefore she had to be chauffeured and transported. My husband also took her on a few driving lessons. I spent many hours up and down the freeway taking her to the Dr, shopping and taking her out on errands. I had a brother who lived right around the corner from her, one that lived not to far, and one that actually lived with her. But since I was her only daughter that would not always do. At times it was okay. I did not mind because that was time I looked forward to spending with her. She often thanked me for always being there for her...
As time passed her health began to decline. Her physical condition began to deteriorate to the place that she sometimes lost control of her bodily liquids. Rendering the necessity of subscribing to adult disposable undergarments. My adult son who lived fifteen minutes away would frequently drop off a supply for me from Costco and visit with her. He would also give me an update on her condition. Gradually she had succumb to cocooning and not venturing outdoors much. Her many falls finally made her yield to a cane. I can remember taking her to the Dr. for therapy so they could assist and teach her how to better use a much dreaded walker. They stressed how she should try to walk uprightly as much as possible.I share this candidly because many do not have compassion and can be insensitive to their elderly parents. A Blessing from the Lord awaits when you treat them with respect!
I can still remember the day when I was taking her to the car and she suddenly began to fall. I knew that I would not catch her in time. I immediately lowered myself under her to brace her impact with the driveway. It was then I knew that there would have to be more changes. Her eyesight began to dim and arthritis began to painfully embrace her hands. She had already told me that when her time came if I was strong that everyone else would have to be strong. Then came her eye surgery, and....... Sewing and needlework gradually had to be set aside. I can see in her journals the gradual shift in her once brilliant almost flawless penmanship. I can see etched on the pages fragments of broken words painfully scribed and thoughts left arrested in mid air.
After her series of mini strokes her posture also changed again along with her hymn singing and speaking. Her voice used for the many altar prayers now quieted, and her singing voice now only emitting a brittle scratchy throaty noise. The walker now obsolete and the need for a much needed yet regretted wheelchair. Along with a shower and bath chair and all the other paraphernalia that are needed when one cannot easily attend to all of the personal hygiene necessities. I purchased a padded desk lap pad to try encouraging arts and simple crafts, along with a mini water fall to solicit a tranquil environment, with soft soothing music in the background. Her living room now begins to shift from her antique furniture to a padded sofa for her to look out the window at her once lovingly attended garden. Her bedroom now housed a hospital bed that she just could not get used to, her physical position gradually shifting from flowered bed linen. Life and her many once enjoyed pastimes gradually became a thing of the past. Her once strong frame now frail. Only a mere silhouette and her limbs delicately extended on her now almost immobile body. Although often smiling a mere slight puzzling frown surfacing at times. I share this because she was one to always help others...
Hopefully this will help you if you have an aging parent, love them now so you will have no regrets when that day comes when they say goodbye! You will know that at His appointed time the Lord will call them home.
She would light up whenever I saw her. No longer was she able to call or I call and talk to her on the telephone. This is when her slow goodbye became a reality. It was not to after she transitioned did I realize just how much she had been holding on to give the family time to prepare.
Must my Mother come live with me? The doctors are now giving up on her she is now in her late eighties. I can remember how impressed they were with her intelligence she could sail through all of their mental alert tests. She would tell them her name the date and current news. How many children she had and where she was; then names all the presidents of the United States. But now gradually the signs of Alzheimer’s had begun to replace her many cherished memories. The Doctors now recommended that she be placed in a home. My live in brother now getting more and more frustrated. Which was really his warranted fears seeing our Mom gradually disappearing. The visits now fewer by her many friends. She can no longer attend her much loved worship services. She no longer enjoyed the walks around the block as I pushed her in her wheelchair. So she stayed inside more and more gradually cocooning in her much loved abode. All besides her family who knew her were able to somewhat remember her as she was. Although there were a few who could see that this once articulate poised woman was beginning to wear like a fine fabric. Her appetite had begun to diminish significantly as well. I got her a nifty bed table to straddle her lap. We would prop her up with pillows on each side. There were times when she just wouldn’t eat without assistance. How ironic after all those years of serving others. So it became a challenge to see what would suit her palette. Well we all will just have to gently help her. Yes again the Dr.’s have now given up hope. But yet Mom is still holding on. This is why I said she had really begun to say her slow goodbye. Whenever she was ready she already knew that the Lord would receive her.
I, along with much anxiety and ambivalence begin to go and look for a care home for Mom at my many brothers insistence. One closer to me so I could see her daily. I now know that some care homes are just dreadful. They seem like human warehouses. Some are seemingly peaceful on the surface. I really did not want this for her. I knew within moving her would only hasten her good bye. Her once strong voice was echoing in the corridors of my mind “There is no place like home." I reluctantly wrote the much dreaded family letter to inform all of my brothers that this is where we are. What do we do? They have wanted me to put her in a home for sometime. A few had ideas but none came to fruition of course. My live in brother would now oversee her household finances. Since he never married or had children he opted to vacate his varied careers. Therefore Mother was his occupation. He could do as he pleased and Mom had a family member there in the evenings. Whatever else she needed I would accommodate her. He would always call me and let me know her status when I was away. Sometime it worked and sometime it didn’t. So what do you do? I just wanted her to be as comfortable as possible.
Now again it is time to make more changes? My brother does not want an assistant in the house full time. What do I do? I am not able to care for her in our home there are just too many stairs. The Dr. says her care could run into the thousands and and ….. So what do I do? Mom must have known that that was one decision that I just could not make nor did I want to make for her. That was one decision that I know she made with the Lord. So it was in her sleep, in her home late that night in January when my brother called and said; “Mom is gone." I’m like, “gone where?" I suddenly remembered one day a few months earlier when she told me she wanted to go back home.
She pointed out her window and told me she wanted to go home. “Mom you are home." She wanted to see her “Papa." Her Dad Mr. Iverson was a strong old fashioned gentleman she adored. They called her Mother Miss Lanie. They both had transitioned many years ago when I was almost three so I knew her timing was off.
I thought about when I had taken out a huge atlas I had purchased for her and showed her she was in California at home and Arkansas was very far away. She just looked away. Then it dawned on me. “Mom’s gone" my brother said again. I knew that Mom had starting leaving a little bit at a time. She was just trying to give everyone a chance to adjust. I knew now that she had made the transition. She had gone on to be with the Lord and all of her other relatives that she had been missing. She had slept away at home peacefully; just like she wanted. Now she was at rest with the Lord. She always assured me that come what may the Lord is always there for us through Eternity! Everyday now will be Mother's Day because I always carry her with me in my heart! I know without doubt that God's Love is Eternal!
The day my Mother transitioned to the Lord our (7th) seventh grand daughter was born. Her name is Zoe` Mary Elizabeth. Zoe' means Life! I always say one went to Heaven and one came from Heaven. What was most interesting was (7) months after my Mother transitioned my Mother- in-Law also transitioned home to be with the Lord. Yes, now both of our Mothers had finally said Good bye…....
There are many issues around taking care of an elderly parent or parents. Who does what and when? Just enjoy them as much as you can while they are here. Try to let them make their own decisions for as long as they can responsibly do so. Treat them with respect although they can become childlike to a degree. In the last days of course you will have some regrets?
If you patiently treat them the way you would want to be treated you will have peace. Remember you never know how your latter days will be? But they will and can be overshadowed by the many many cherished memories You have shared with them. So remember to work on building good memories! And yes of course you will always miss them. So shower them with LOVE while they are still on this side of HEAVEN!
I am THANKFUL and have no doubt that both of our mothers and fathers too are at Peace with the Lord in Heaven. "Absent from the body present with the Lord!" At HIS appointed time there will be a "Sweet Heavenly Reunion!"
Thank You Lord for "Your Peace that surpasses the understanding of man!"