If you’ve read the last chapter in my book, you remember that one of my concerns was what it would be like for us when the time came for Mom to transition from underwear to Depends…..
We’re about to find out. On Mom’s 86th birthday yesterday, I brought her first package of Depends. For the past couple of weeks Mom’s had a couple of accidents, and the clever woman that she is, she thought she’d “fix” the accident issue by hiding her soiled underwear anywhere she think of to put them. Out of sight out of mind right????? She’s been walking around “free”, rationalizing that if you aren’t wearing underwear you can’t have accidents… Hmmm, I can get that…
So after the birthday cards and presents were opened, I explained to Mom that she’s going to be wearing a different type of “pull up” underwear called Depends and that now there won’t be any problem or cleanup if she can’t make it to the bathroom in time.
She thought for a moment and then said “well you know I only wear white underwear so they have to be white”. I assured her that Depends come in white. “Then I guess it will be ok” she said.
A minute later she asked if I wore Depends. I said I didn’t wear them because I could still make it to the bathroom in time. And then making a connection I didn’t see coming she said “I Depend on you and you take care of me!” Wow!! I said “yes and I’ll always take care of you. And when I’m not here to help you in the bathroom, you’ll have your pull up underwear.”
“I know”, she said “that’s why they call them Depends!” WOW!! There are so many moments with this horrible disease that she “gets it” and this was one of them. Still fiercely independent though, she then declared “I’m going to the bathroom now, BY MYSELF!” I promised her that I’d wait until she returned and she happily left me sitting in her room. As Mom walked away, I thought instantly of my three year old granddaughter Kendal who when asked if she wants help in the bathroom typically responds “No I can do it BY MYSELF!”
At opposite ends of the age spectrum, Mom and Kendal have two very important things in common. They are two of the most important people in my life, AND they want to have the freedom to Depend on themselves, and we have to let them, as long as it’s safe for them to do so. Love me some Mom and Kendal and all the lessons I learn from them.
What a beautiful, poignant life’s vignette. Your closing words – “At opposite ends of the age spectrum, Mom and Kendal have two very important things in common. They are two of the most important people in my life, AND they want to have the freedom to Depend on themselves, and we have to let them, as long as it’s safe for them to do so. Love me some Mom and Kendal and all the lessons I learn from them” – are priceless and powerful. Thanks, Loretta, for this post. Just this morning, I read a review of Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal”. Your recount of this moment with your mother and your reflection in relation to your granddaughter strikes me as mirroring marvelous one of Gawande’s points about being honest about aging and doing our best to make decisions that bear the fruit of meaningful living for our loved ones. Yes, “they want to have the freedom to depend on themselves.” Amen to that!
Thanks Paul!! Such special words coming from you and I treasure them. One of the reasons I think I’ve done so well with Mom’s disease is the fact that Kendal is such a big part of our lives and it’s so amazing to watch them go in different directions, in a parallel-type fashion. I’m just in awe!! I love them both so much I want them to know that they CAN Depend on me when they need me, but that it’s OK for them to Depend on themselves too! Thanks too for your reference to “Being Mortal”, I’ll have to check it out!!
OMG! You DID in fact warn me that I’d need tissue! Her moments of clarity are like PLATINUM!!! What an awesome way of acceptance.
The parallelism between them is amazing. Both fighting for their independance, but they both also know and trust that they can depend on us to be there for them.
Experiencing Kendal declare her independance is quite the lesson for me as well. I have to learn to ‘let go’ and allow her to try while simaltaneously, I am losing my ‘baby’. The joys (and challenges) of doing everything for her did more for my heart then I ever realized possible and now watching her blossom is both beyond gratifying and meloncholly.
Conversly, watching Your Mom fight to maintain independance is both difficult and gratifying in ways too. Having the ability to give back so lovingly and do for her as she did for you is a tremeandous blessing, but the circumstances with which you are doing so are quite difficult.
What an awesome position you sit; Watching two of your greates loves at different yet similar points in their lives. There is a book about this coming, I am sure!!!! Rightly so, too.
I pray this Easter they are a le to re-kindle their games of hunting eggs and tossing a ball!
Love YOU and LOVE this post!
YES I’m planning on our Annual Easter get together!! Praying it will be warm enough for them to play outside again.
You and I will have LOTS to share in the future…. More wonderment and awe of what Mom and Kendal can do, AND sorrow and frustration when they may need our help but don’t want it. We can laugh and cry together whenever we need to. After all, we can continue to Depend on each other as we, and our lives, grow and change in the future!! So glad you loved the post!! LOVE you too!!!!
Awesome Loretta. Just awesome.
Thanks Tim for all your love and support with Mom and with Kendal!! You’re awesome too!!! I really love writing my blog!!
I whole heartedly agree with Tim! Awesome, Loretta and my Cousin Doris, too! Upon reflection, I so wish I had more time to have spent with her years ago. But, being on two different coasts made it very difficult. At least, you and I have what I missed with them. Love You.
Thanks Winnie!! We do indeed have that deep family connection and I’m so grateful for it!!! Yeah I do wish that you had gotten to know Mom better and I wish I had been able to interact more with Uncle Walter, though I remember him clearly! The cool thing is, Mom really remembers him too!! Love you too!