I’m back from 10 days of transforming myself into mother, daughter, sister, and BFF for my mother. It was a busy working trip for me but well worth it to see the smile on her face.
I returned home yesterday, and wondered where the real me had gone. I suppose I have a special affliction (you could call it a gift), where, when I’m with my mother, my empathy takes over. I give up my introversion and desire for solitude so that I can bring a bit of joy into people’s hearts.
Mom’s living in an assisted/memory care home, and most of the people there are suffering from either brain damage of some sort or physical disabilities where they’re in wheelchairs or using walkers. The other day everyone was sitting around watching Lawrence Welk, their faces expressionless and unengaged, and I went in front of the TV and started dancing. That gave everyone a giggle, and it made me feel good for giving people at least a momentary smile.
The facility tries hard to make life stimulating. There is a small outdoor courtyard, and they have regular group walks through the hallways, The other day they were making flower bouquets.
Still, no matter how much you try to engage someone who hasn’t the ability to communicate, many, like my mother, just won’t respond unless they’re given special love and attention. There are too many residents and too few staff for everyone to get that special attention.
When I arrived, my mother had no toilet paper or soap. My brother, I suppose being a man, apparently never noticed. My mother was using disposable hand towels to wipe herself and tossing them into the toilet. It surprised me that it didn’t clog the toilet. I bought her some clothes, toilet paper, soap, flowers, and a new walker that she likes a lot better than the cheap walkers they have in their supply. I’m not sure why she doesn’t like the cheap walkers. Maybe the wheels don’t roll freely.
We took lots of outings — I gave her a manicure and pedicure, and we got our hair cuts, went out for hamburgers, and milk shakes, and drove one of those motorized carts around the grocery store. Mom really enjoyed the outings.
Will this be me one day? Locked in a building with a bunch of people whose quality of life is reduced to watching Lawrence Welk and staring at people slobbering all over their meals at mealtime? I suppose it’s my responsibility to give it some thought before I get to that point, and try to find a place where I can grow old and die happily.
On the day before I left, Mom, who is speechless most of the time, told me “Don’t go.”
“Why?” I asked her, stooping down in front of her so she could see my lips and taking her hands.
“Because I’ll miss you.” She broke my heart when she said that. The dharma part of myself reminds me that there are some things in this world that can’t be changed, and that the only thing I can do is change myself to accept the flow of life and then be at peace with knowing that it’s okay if I can’t fix every single thing by myself.
The really good news is that my travelling obligations are over for the foreseeable future, so I can settle back into my own life and home and restore my well being.
Of course my poor writing muse has gone away on vacation too. Hopefully she’ll be back when she notices I’m back to meditating, exercising, and doing my yoga again. I won’t put pressure on myself or her. I’ll just enjoy life for a while and let her come back in her own time.
I stopped at a Denver pot dispensary and bought a pre-rolled joint, and a container of wonderful cinnamon candies. I took the joint apart and vaped it, little by little, every night until it was gone. And the cinnamon candies along with the marijuana capsules I had brought from Massachusetts were enough to help take the edge off of some of the tough moments of my time there. Unfortunately, sleep was next to impossible in a strange place with a strange bed and cold air conditioner air blowing. By the time I left I was taking 3 sleeping pills. Now that I’m back home, I can get back down to taking just the one pill I’m supposed to be taking.
Omg, where am I? I’M HOME!! Who is that sleeping at my feet? IT’S MY DARLING POOCH!! We had such an amazing love-in last night. He had missed me so much he whined for a long time, and I whined right back at him. It seems like I’ve been gone for months and months, and the 6-inch stack of mail sitting on my desk only enhances that feeling.