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  • December, 2009- Reflections of Mom
    The last four months have been a turning point in my way of responding to Mom.

    Before April, I was feeling pretty comfortable with my present role of caretaker with my brothers picking up a lot of slack, plus Mom seemed to be loving her new home and recovering well from last years’ toxicity crisis. I, on the other hand , felt I had learned a vital lesson on how to be and not to be the messenger in my family.

    However, no sooner did I take off for a little trip to Denver with no reservations about Mom, she had a stroke and has been having mini-strokes (TIA) since her first one which actually fell on her 87th birthday and Easter Sunday, if that isn’t like Mom.

    With each stroke another body function was lost. First her ability to clearly process information and /or retain short term info. Next, her eyes lost at least 1/3 of her overall vision, and most recently her ability to swallow normally. She continues to loose weight and her energy level is mostly sleeping, moving slow, and working hard to retain what little she has left in her ability to live each day.

    It has been very hard to watch this process unfold and even harder in being mindfully present in Mom’s struggle versus taking her extreme moods personally or over reacting to her helplessness.

    What I have found in me is more patience and less need to defend myself or my choices. I also find that nothing has ever truly interfered along my 12 yr journey with Mom and I talking honestly to each other in ways that have helped us both learn how to respond more lovingly to each other.

    The last few years was probably the hardest times for Mom and I, but by going through those hard places, it has made our conversations through some pretty scary subjects much more trusting and helpful.
    Mom talks to me about her deepest confusions, fears, and frustrations, but now I can listen without a need to interject my opinion or try to fix it.

    I am much more able to accept my brothers participation based on their expectations and not mine or mom’s. As for my sisters, I have been able to keep them informed of mom’s progress over the years, and now her present failings. This has always been the place where I must grow and learn how to accept my siblings response to my information without feeling anxious, defensive, or doubted. Each of us have our own personal relation with Mom and in no way can I interfere or for that matter truly understand their needs and perspectives related to their relationship.

    I guess my biggest test is yet to come. Though Mom has all the pieces in place for after her death, my greatest fear is yet to be faced. My family’s grief and my responses. This isn’t about jealousy or distrust; it is about all of the pain and woundedness each of us carry to Mom’s grave. I pray that I can be a silent support to each; keeping my own opinions to myself; and seeking to accept each of our processes of letting go of Mom as unique, individual, and worthy of being honored.

    It is now two months later and 6 months since Mom’s last big episode in health crisis. In the past five years, she has had four major medical events. Each one has taken its tole on her overall ability to function normally. I know she is aware of her limitations which only makes it more painful for her to notice all that she is loosing in the way of cognitive, physical everyday skills.

    It is as though her life is shrinking in front of her. Each day less choice to read a book, talk to a friend, see the light and dark of the day. As an observer I feel both great pain for mom’s losses; yet, selfishly I see and fear this same unfolding of old age. To loose gradually all my faculties and to live in a place that there is little or no interaction with others because it is just to hard.

    I feel great pain for Mom’s loneliness and wish her release from this limiting existence. However, another part of me feels that all people meet death as individually as we meet life and how I perceive her present situation is based on my feelings, not hers. To her this could be exactly what she wants and needs and I am here to love her and support her gently on her way to what ever is next.

    My only intention at this time is to be as present for her as I can without judgement or guilt. To find ways to make her laugh and enjoy the time we spend together. To not feed into her worry and look for ways to distract her from fretting. To find my own life in this without feeling resentment for its unpredictability. Knowing always that this is Mom’s journey and I am only here to walk with her a while longer.

    November, 2010
    Hospice is now a part of our process, thank God! When Mom said "I fear change, they said "it can also be opportunity!" Mom said "Write that down, I like that!" We hung it on the wall, it became our mantra.

    All our dreams of how this final stage would unfold are melting away, unfulfilled. New ways of seeing the journey ahead. Two weeks at home with me for the holidays, then off to the Nursing Home next to our beloved mountain home. A centralized location for all to be near, for any and all to participate, to be present for her story to unfold.

    Six months later and daily visits by all she died with the sun shining through her window and the birds singing her song.

    May 17, 2011-last entry
    It has been a most amazing journey Mom, thanks for sharing so much of you with me. My life has truly become more joyful and synergy abounds. Each morning as I watch the day begin I hold you close to my heart and once again say thank you for sharing your journey with me as I ring our familiar Tibetan bell and lite our candle of love never ending, only evolving.
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