This morning I had to stop by a farm to check on some possible work. As I was waiting for the hubby to finish doing chores, I asked his wife if her mom was still living with them?
She teared up instantly.
The words just tumbled out…
“Up until now we’ve had a bath aid coming in two to three times a week, but starting next week, I asked for help every day. I just can’t do it any more…”
I listened. …and the words kept coming….
“I promised her I would never put her in a nursing home..but….but you have no idea how hard it has been.”
“How is your mom mentally?” I asked…
“Ever since her stroke, she’s gotten worse. Right now, she probably has the mind of a 5th grader…..
She’s lived with us seven and one half years…..”
I (DM) remembered when her mom first moved in. I assumed she was still with them, but you never know. Her mom reminded me of my mom, the first time I met her….about the same age, body build, both have a twinkle in their eye. I sensed she (the mother) had mixed feelings about moving in with her daughter, and yet, due to circumstances outside of her control, there was no other option….
Tonight as Mrs DM and I were out on a date, I thought back to this mornings conversation. In the past an interaction like that would have left me feeling uncomfortable, but it didn’t.
I was humbled she trusted me enough to be vulnerable and tell me what she was really thinking.
Raw, unguarded pain.
Come to think of it, I had four different conversations like that just this week.
And in none of those conversations, did I feel any pressure to say something wise or helpful.
When a person is really hurting, the most helpful (and hopeful) thing you and I can do is to listen. Really listen. Not fill the moments of silence between the two of you with words. Yes,
there is may be a time to speak, but mostly, just the act of listening, (or asking a question) does more that anything else to communicate hope.
I really do not have a clue as to what it’s like to be a full-time care taker for more than a few hours at a stretch.
Some of you do.
My dad, who is in his mid 80’s, will occasionally put it like this…“Once a man, twice a child.”
Not so sure I want to do the childhood gig a second time.
Told my wife this night I am going to ask my brother-in-law Loren to take me out moose hunting when I start to fail… wait until it’s good and cold, prop me up against a tree, out in the middle of nowhere and call it good. We laughed, because first of all, I don’t hunt, and second of all, Loren is my mom’s go-to person when she needs to dispose of a pesky critter. I know this is not the politically correct (Christian) way to talk about aging, but, if I am granted a long life (and there are no guarantees) I do not want to fritter those last years away, stuck in some room, needing to have my diaper changed every few hours.
So, if you ever hear me talking about going moose hunting, you’ll know something’s up….