My Mother

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

On Freestyle Fridays, we talk about whatever happens to pop into my head—or any suggestion you may have made for a topic. I’ve missed you guys while we paused to celebrate Christmas and New Years. Good to be back with you.

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything about my 96 year-old mother, but since I just got back from visiting her, she’s sorta on my mind. Please bear with me while I talk about her.

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Mother and me on her 95th birthday a year and a half ago

Mother lives in a small assisted living home—one of five residents. She gets good care there from the caregivers kept on-site 24/7, so I don’t have any real concern about her well-being. I do, however, have a real concern about her quality of life.

Mother was always a very active person. She was always the one who jumped up to get whatever anyone needed. She always loved people and wanted to be with someone, or several someones, she could converse with.

She also always read the newspaper, worked crossword puzzles, and watched a fair amount of television. These were things she could “connect” with when there were no people around.

Somehow, in the last decade she has lost the use of her knees. She can’t stand, which means she can’t walk. So she can’t get up and down and move around like she always has.

A series of TIAs or some other villain has robbed her of her memory. She still recognizes me, but I frequently have to remind her of my name and our relationship—sometimes every five minutes. This severely limits her ability to visit with the other residents of the home or the caregivers.

Macular degeneration has almost completely taken her vision. Sadly, she can no longer see a newspaper, book, television or crossword puzzle.

Mother has worn partial plates for years as various teeth had to be pulled. This past summer we had to have the remainder of her upper teeth removed, forcing us to have a full upper plate made. She hated it and would not leave it in her mouth. Then she managed to lose the lower partial, so now she has a total of four teeth remaining, all lowers. Since she won’t keep the plates in her mouth, she goes without them all the time, which makes her look even older than her 96 years.

I love my mother and am glad to have her still here. I feel like no amount of care on my part could make up for all the things she has done for me through the years. But I’m conflicted.

There is no quality to her life. She gets up in the morning when a caregiver comes to awaken her and dress her. She eats when a caregiver wheels her to the table in her wheelchair. Other than that, she pretty much sits in a chair in the living room with nothing to do. She spends most of the day carrying on a sotto voce conversation with herself—when she’s not singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”

Other than the eyes, memory and knees, her health is astounding. She has never had any cardiovascular trouble or any form of cancer. I could easily see her living another decade. To do what? Sit in her chair and stare blankly?

I have absolute faith God knows what He is doing. There must be some reason she’s still here—some purpose I can’t see. I’m not in a rush to see her go. I just wish I could see some enjoyment in her life.

Do you have a parent or grandparent who has begun losing mental or physical faculties? Are you the child or grandchild who looks after that person? How do you feel watching this deterioration?

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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13 Responses to My Mother

  1. Kelsy says:

    To us it may seem like she is lonely, however, she may be perfectly content. If she has to be reminded every few minutes who she is visiting with and why, she probably doesn’t realize the times that she doesn’t have anyone to talk to. It is a sad part of life and unfortunately all we can do is hope that deep down she isn’t suffering.

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  2. Jane Merrick says:

    Yes, David, it does hurt to see Aunt Baba like she is and it saddens us. I agree with you in that I know God still has a purpose for her life and He may be reaching others for Him through her that we know nothing about. She does seem happy which helps us all some in this situation. I love it that she sings to the Lord. Loved being with you and Sharon. Love, Jane

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  3. David, I am so sorry for the condition of your mother. My mother-in-law is in a similar condition. My husband is in pain every time he leaves her. She lays in bed, and they feed her. She doesn’t know who he is, even if her tells her. She can’t read as was a passion. Conflicted? My husband and I have had many conversations over the exact thoughts. Why? What is the quality of life? Maybe to support the elderly care facilities and create jobs? Not sure. And then… God knows best? But what if intervention of feeding tubes, and blood pressure pills, etc., are intervening in God’s plan? Not sure. Maybe elderly parents are there for “us” to care for, and not put in a home because of something we must learn… and we are not. These questions and discussions could go on forever. But know that you are not alone in conflict over this one.

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    • Thanks, Karlene. Sounds like your mother-in-law is in worse shape than my mother. Scary thing for me is, I’m not that many years behind some of the people in these homes.

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  4. Once again, David, you are not alone. So many of us are living through the same conflicts and sadness. Fortunately my mother lived a very active life with a memory far better than mine until she was 92. Macular degeneration did affect her vision but talking books saved her and I shall eternally thank all authors who make audiobooks (hmm – I should be looking into that myself!). However I hear stories just like your dear mom’s from many of my friends and it certainly fuels the discussion of how best our lives can be served as our bodies and minds fail us. It’s a topic that needs to be heard. Your mom is fortunate to have such a caring, supportive family helping make her life the best it can be. {{{hugs}}}

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  5. Dawn says:

    I can completely relate to this story about your mother. Last March my mother-in-law passed, but the decline of her overall health before she died was very similar to your mother’s. It is so hard to watch our loved ones deteriorate – and even more difficult to reconcile our respect for life with our desire to ensure comfort and quality within life. In the end we decided to try and make my MIL as comfortable as possible during her last days and feel confident that we were able to fulfill that commitment. Maybe this is the best we can hope for? I don’t know.

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    • Thanks, Dawn. I’ve never been a fan of Dr. Kevorkian, and I don’t believe in his “assisted suicide,” but I do see where he and his followers are coming from. It’s painful to watch the decline of a loved one.

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      • Dawn says:

        YES! That is exactly how all of us felt as we watched her health decline and she slipped into the person she feared she would become when she grew old. It’s a very strange place to be. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Peace be with you.

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  6. Barb Estinson says:

    Oh, David ….. you have poignantly written just how I’m feeling about Mom. I don’t understand either what is in God’s plan for her. I can hardly bear to think of how lonely and bored she is. The little bit of pleasure she gets when someone comes to visit … which she promptly forgets … hardly seems to balance all her loneliness. My heart hurts for her. And … of course … I can hardly stand the thought that if I live as long, I could easily be in the same predicament. I know that you and I both wish we could help her in some lasting way. Love you. Barb

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