AFTER THE FALL by Rebecca Platt
Some facts about my mother, the subject of this post. She is eighty-nine and maintains her own home. She’s a size eight with a figure most women fifty years younger would envy. I am not kidding. When she wears her snug fitting jeans, yes, I said jeans, and a fitted shirt, I look at her and think to myself, “This can NOT be the body of an eighty-nine year old woman.” She’s never exercised or dieted a day in her life and eats whatever she wants. She had a facelift at seventy. She only has an eighth grade education and worked at a local factory till she retired. Despite low wages, she has invested wisely and is probably better off financially than people with high paying jobs.
She is stubborn, opinionated, vain and outspoken. So am I. Yet we have a great relationship. We argue. We laugh. We discuss lots of issues. She’s well-informed and a good conversationalist.
We are fast approaching the first anniversary of her “fall”. There always seems to be the fall, doesn’t there? This fall was at my house. On my concrete sidewalk. From the top step of my porch. The very day my husband and I began tearing up the tile on our living room floor. It was a tough recovery process and not just for her, I might add. Fast forward to last week.
I visit my mom almost every day. I stopped over last week and couldn’t find her anywhere. The doors to her garage were open; the door to her shed was open. I didn’t yell for her because she is almost deaf and seldom wears her hearing aids. (More about that later). Finally I found her at the end of the house trimming a big bush. She was underneath it with large pruning shears and good-sized branches were scattered everywhere. I watched for a few minutes trying to decide how angry I was going to be. How was I ever going to get her to listen to me about safety issues?
We’ve had a running battle this past year, about wearing a safety alert necklace, using a cane, not going up and down the basement stairs, her hearing aids, etc. I’ve lost every battle except two. She’s agreed not to drive and I now manage her medication. Anyway, I kept watching her until she noticed me. She looked a little sheepish like a child caught in the act of being naughty. She tried to get up and couldn’t. You know what I did?
Instead, I said, “Well, mom, let’s see how you’re going to figure it out”. She did. She used a rake and when I asked her what she did when she didn’t have a rake, she said, “I crawl till I can find something to hang on to.” Okay then. I knew she’d been digging up plants and transplanting them and I had wondered how she’d been managing. Now I had witnessed it for myself. I was impressed. I was conflicted with feelings of pride at her efforts but sad to see her struggle so.
Here’s the big message.
Our aging parents deserve to live the life they want for as long as they can. (Driving being the exception). I’ve fought with my mom all year and she has won. Thank goodness.
So as of today, I quit. She is going to do what she is going to do. The stubbornness that has frustrated me beyond belief is that same stubbornness that has kept her going. When I saw her yesterday thoroughly enjoying her day, when I saw her figure out a way to get up, I knew it was time for me to back-off and let things follow their natural course. I realized that I want her to do as much as she can for as long as she can. She is probably going to fall again. I don’t know how that will turn-out. There will come a time when she won’t be able to live the life she wants and we’ll deal with it then. But I respect her too much to continue to “manage” every part of her life. I am so proud of how’s she managed this past year.
So, Happy Anniversary mom. It’s almost been a year since you fell (Sept. 28th) and you’re doing great. You’re a survivor. Hey, you survived me!
Bio: I am a former hospital chaplain, a research analyst, conference and retreat speaker, bible teacher, writer, and blogger at http://depressionsgift.com