You only have one mother…..

1597122_10152669845145031_1421512996_oMy mum isn’t well. She is unwell in that way we refer to those who are, officially, really old; ‘well she is 86 dear’; ‘things are just wearing out’; ‘well none of us go on forever’. Diagnosis? Why bother with one? It is ‘old age’ and if we are lucky, perhaps, it comes to us all. So let’s just watch her legs swell up, sense she can’t quite catch her breath, and listen whilst she tells us of something that worries her – over and over again so that very worry is reinforced, and dwelt upon until conspiracy theories take over from reality and there is the inexorable descent into an anxiety state that takes more of her breath, more of herself.

Perhaps she will rally, again. But she has started those sad little conversations that begin ‘don’t be upset when I go dear, I’ve had enough’, and at some point, in the natural order of things, we will lose her, my sister, brother and I.

But I have to admit I am struggling, desperately hoping she will once more be her ‘old self’, flashes of whom we still glimpse as we watch her wolf down dark chocolate, then complain of indigestion, or hear as she describes the behaviour of a friend who is ‘lovely, but…’

My mum dedicated her life to bringing up her family and caring for her husband, our dad, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinsons before any of us,his children, had left primary school. She has been a widow almost as long as she was a wife and has had to deal with what she would describe as a ‘basin full’. She has a strength of character that can be both tender and downright scary, and of her three children I am the one whose ‘buttons’ have been pressed for maximum effect, with emotional consequences for us both. But recently, as her short term memory has deteriorated and her longer term recall become more selective, we have enjoyed some great laughs, and hours of simple fun playing games on the iPad, discussing who are our favourites on Strictly Come Dancing (‘I can’t bear that Katie Derham, with that smile…’) and talking about her family history. No competition, no manipulation, just love.

10862706_10153454611380031_6347351552373342626_oI know in my heart that I am hoping she stays with us not for her sake, but for mine. I am scared – of being ‘top of the tree’, of no longer being, physically,  someone’s daughter, of being cast adrift from that last link with all those memories, of feeling alone (despite having my own lovely family).

We are a lucky human being if we get to our eighties as fit as a flea. Our society desperately denies death whilst worshipping youth, and the elderly are seen as a demographic time bomb, a problem to be solved, a drain on our national finances. Why are we so keen to stay alive, when at the same time we are casting age and experience aside?

Perhaps I am affected by national as well as personal events. The world seems a scary place at the moment. Am I alone in thinking someone has taken the brakes off and our lives and events are spinning out of our control? Mum has been ever present, a safety blanket, the tap root from which much of my life has taken strength. Too much? Possibly. Perhaps I am just afraid to acknowledge myself as an adult…

At some point I have to acknowledge myself as a root from which my own children have branched out and become the lovely folk they are.

I am no longer a child, but I will always be the child of my mother.

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This entry was posted in Childhood, Family, Family History, love the universe and everything, Parenting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to You only have one mother…..

  1. Viv says:

    This moved me almost to tears; very powerfully written and relevant to me, as well. xxxxx

  2. It is very emotive post that you have written. My Mum passed away last February. I can’t tell you how unprepared I was. The rational bits of our brain tells us that our parents would be there forever, but nonetheless, we find ourselves in denial for a time as we look to a different future. I have no suggestions other than to say, enjoy every day with your Mum, continue to make new memories together.

  3. Susan Scott says:

    What a lovely heart felt post Suzie. Enjoy and love her while she’s alive –

  4. Lynne Earthy says:

    Such a lovely piece Suzie, just wish l had that relationship with my own mother. Xx

  5. Nienna says:

    This moved me and I feel for you.

  6. Sally snaddon says:

    Thinking of you Sue. Give my love to your mum when next you see her. Can still picture us sitting back to back, and Jane and Janet sitting back to back in their turn while your mum pushed us through the flooded path on the way to school, with Phillip, then a baby, in the big old carriage pram. Lovely memories.

  7. ahiggins2013 says:

    It’s very hard. I know. My mother died at age 95, 5 years ago. She had some dementia, and was almost totally blind with macular degeneration, and almost totally deaf, and incontinent and unable to walk…but she knew me… and I was with her when she died,blessedly gently, of congestive heart failure. The last five years of her life were hard, more for me than for her, for she was in a skilled care facility where she was very well loved and cared for. I came to be with her every Sunday , and felt confident of her care during the intervening days. But I do know what you are going through. As one friend told me, “You will never regret the care you took of her.”

    • keatsbabe says:

      Thank you for your kind words and your friend is very wise. My sister and I are just keen to spend as much time s possible with her. We want to know we did everything we could to support her.

  8. Pingback: ‘After great pain’…On loss and grief and working my way through it… | No more wriggling out of writing ……

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