Friday, July 27, 2007

Walk a Mile

I read a comment on Ann's Blog this morning from Carol D. O'Dell, author of Mothering Mother. Her words refer to her caregiving of her mom and the voluminous writing triggered by the emotions from that experience.

She wrote one sentence that clanged a loud, long-ringing bell of uh-huhs from me. "It took me, my husband, our family, her neighbors, relatives, and church community for her to maintain that 'independence."'

Such is the case with a mom I know. If her kids weren't so busy dealing with her and her issues, it would be pretty funny, you know, the 'I'm enjoying maintaining my level of independence' proclamations in her speech and letters, even while she is stewing because Lectured Yard Boy hasn't mowed the lawn, Hen-pecked Neighbor hasn't repaired the wood shed, Church Man She Can't Stand Who Drives Her to Church During Stormy Winter Months drives too fast, and Son Who Lives 200 Miles Away And Has a Job and Family of His Own doesn't visit enough i.e. walk in the door to be handed a long To-Do List from an 'independent mother'.

Independence bought and carried at the cost of others' independence.

I tell the kids, "If I ever get like that, slap me upside the head." They only nod slightly, give each other a look, and smirk.

I know I know, walk a mile in her orthopedic shoes.

It's part of life, the caring for elderly parents. Ann is an example I look up to of gracious care-giving, even through the exasperation, frustration, and melancholy. To achieve her level of patient loving-kindness is my goal. As you can tell I am far from it.

Kudos and props, Ann.


Cassie said...

Don't worry Momma! If you ever get like that I will slap you upside the head! : )

And thanks for putting that video on your blog. (Carolina in the Pine) What a great song to get my Middle name from!


Cherie said...

Geez, thanks Cassie. What a relief!

Glad you like the MMM video. He's so great - and so are you!

tshsmom said...

I've had this same discussion a LOT! I've also told my kids that they have my permission to shoot me or stick me on an ice floe if I get that bad.

The kids said they'd just lock me in a room and shove pizza and pancakes under the door. ;)

Cherie said...

Are our kids in cahoots, Tish? Mine have mentioned the words Ice and Flow waaaay to many times......

I like the pizza pancakes under the door. Your kids are so merciful!

Marianne Elixir said...

Mothering teens and adults seems terrifying. I don't even know what ice and glow mean, but I'm scared.

tshsmom said...

Cherie, if all else fails, you can share my "retirement" room with me. Maybe the kids could shove us a few board games under the door? ;)

Ann said...

Oh Cherie, thank you. I seldom feel like a very good example. Mostly I just soldier on, supported by a loving and generous family (& kind friends like yourself). Excellent guides are available in abundance, but until becoming a caregiver, one doesn't altogether "get it." It will probably take hindsight to reach any kind of real understanding, but until then prayer helps a lot, too.

Cherie said...

M, I misspelled the type of floe I meant. As in ice floe. My kids have learned that in old times the Eskimos used to put their elderly who were unwell on ice floes and cut them adrift to perish on the open seas. That's what they threaten to do with me when I am particularly unpleasant. :-)

tshs: yes, yes, let's go the 'retirement room' together when the time comes and play John Denver and the Eagles, and rock music, and eat pizza pancakes!

Ann - This is good wise advice that I will hold onto, Ann, as my days of being a caregiver are fast approaching, I think. Praying - yes - a must. Thanks, Ann.

Marianne Elixir said...

Well, I guess the promise of global warming will at least remove the threat of an ice floe. Our children will have to be more creative.

Cherie said...

Good point, M.

Sadly, the kids also know the ancient Native American ritual of leaving the elder in the wilderness, alone, to fend for herself when the time comes. (What the kids DON'T know is that tshs and I can hack the wilderness just fine, and we'll be watching every move they make...hehehe...while eating pizza pancakes. Right tshs?

tshsmom said...

Yup, my kids KNOW that I could survive the wilderness experience!
I just got off the phone with my daughter. I needed to rant about my mother. She replied that I'd better not get like that. Then I told her about our discussion here. SME said she'd gladly give us board games, but she wants our "retirement room" soundproofed. I think she's afraid that we'll start singing along to our music. ;)

Cherie said...

Kind, compassionate SME, giving us board games and music and our very own soundproofed room! Ha! Made me laugh. We would sing, that's for sure, but I doubt the soundproofing would keep our lovely, lively, 'mature women' voices from being heard.....hehehe.

Thanks, SME, wherever you are!